October 2012 MAINE COASTAL NEWS Page 21.
WASHINGTON COUNTY AND THE FIRST YEAR OF THE CIVIL WAR Maritime History
Part II By Amos Boyd
Charleston had been a strong United States military area, and when it was taken over by the Confederates; only a small unit of 75 men under the command of Major Anderson at nearby Fort Moultrie remained loyal to the Union. These men suddenly found themselves isolated, in enemy territo- ry, and vastly outnumbered. They had been refused reinforcements, perhaps because outright war had not yet been declared. It was said that Major Anderson decided that Fort Moultrie would be impossible to defend so he and his men spiked the fort’s guns and burned the gun carriages, then departed speedily for Fort Sumter. Their action enraged the already aroused Caro- linians who immediately surrounded the Fort with an estimated three thousand men, and demanded that Major Anderson and his seventy-fi ve men surrender. Major Anderson refused to surrender even though Carolinian numbers circling the Fort increased to about seven thousand and hot heads wanting a fi ght, steadily arrived from the back country.
The news about the Union men refusing to surrender Fort Sumter spread north like wildfi re New York went wild with excite- ment and admiration for the courage of Anderson and his outnumbered men. The suspense grew day by day, and in the north every bit of news was savored and repeated, but everyone worried and wondered what would happen.
Anderson and his men held out for three months, and were almost out of food, water and ammunition when they surrendered after a three-day bombardment. When they left the Fort, they were given the courtesy and honor of keeping their colors. Back in Washington Country great at- tention had been given to the request from the President for volunteers. Sacrifi ce was always involved. Washington County was a place of small farms and industries where work never really ended and the “hands” you used were your own. The loss of one pair of hands meant doubling the work of someone else.
This was opposite to customs in the South where the hands that did the work were black, and their bodies were bought and sold. The wealth of Southerners depend- ed on how many “hands” were owned, and those “hands” were expected to serve their masters even when those men went to war. Transportation and communication in
Washington County was slow and tedious, since farms were often isolated, making it diffi cult to organize widely separated areas, and it was some time before County volunteers were ordered to march to East- port. The march began at Cherryfi eld and stopped briefl y at the busy town of Machias
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where other volunteers joined them. When the group of boy volunteers left, a silence came over the town, and a feeling of great emptiness.
The volunteer’s march could hardly be called a march, since the road ahead was rough, full of loose rocks, puddles, holes and steep hills; when they reached Whiting and turned onto the Lubec Road, that was even worse. At Lubec however they were greeted by cheerful friendly housewives who served them good hot food while they waited for boats to take them across the bay to Eastport and Fort Sullivan.
The excitement of having the volunteer companies in Eastport did not change the tra- dition of celebrating June Day, a rare holiday for children who packed fi sh and worked in the sardine factories, and the children whose families were more prosperous. Every child, no matter how poor, had a June horn to blow, and blow them they did, a cacophony of sound that began at dawn, a shocking beginning of day, to recruits and townsmen alike.
The racket continued until wagonloads of children left for picnics outside of town where they searched for Mayfl owers. They returned happy but tired, with the noise of the June horns somewhat muted, though it continued until sunset.
The nearby town of Pembroke celebrat- ed June Day more quietly with dancing in the evening, but few of the recruits felt like dancing. They were accustomed to many types of hard physical labor, but marching a distance over hard packed dirt roads caused many blisters on feet more accustomed to yardarms and decks or fi elds and mossy woods.
Several weeks later diffi culty arose at Fort Sullivan when the volunteers learned their enlistment would be much longer than expected.
Three years seemed much too
long for the Cherryfi eld men all of whom left for home along with some of the Machias Company. At Washington, orders were being sent out to all collectors of Customs to prevent munitions from going south through the British Provinces. Washington County economy was
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heavily dependent upon its sea trade to En- gland, parts of Europe, and the Caribbean islands. The British were offi cially neutral, but unoffi cially dependent on cotton from the south for its factories. Warnings were issued to captains of merchant vessels who were going to the West Indies or the Gulf of Mexico to keep on the outer edge of the Gulf Stream where there was less danger of capture by armed Confederate raiders. The STATE OF MAINE, a 339-ton brig built in Machias was taken May 12, at Mississippi by the Calhoun. On July 4, two brigantines, the CUBA of Milbridge and the 245-ton MACHIAS of Machias, and the brig ALBERT ADAMS were taken by the Confederate Sumter at Cienfuegos, but the CUBA was later successfully retaken by its crew.
The schooner MARY ALICE of Ma- chias was also taken in July, possibly by the Confederate WINSLOW. On August 4, the brig ITASKA of Pem- broke was taken by the WINSLOW; and the CARRIE ESTELLE of Cutler was taken the same day.
The August 21 issue of the Eastport Sentinel brought news from Captain Elling- wood of the 196-ton brig SANTA CLARA owned in Eastport, four days out from the West Indies, the brig had been captured by a privateer and the brig and its $20,000 cargo of sugar had both been destroyed. Some such listings may be question- able but are included for future reference; schooner ROAN taken by the WINSLOW, the EMILY FISHER of Pembroke taken by the RETRIBUTION, 385-ton brig NIAD of Cherryfi eld taken by the SUMTER, the OL- IVE BRANCH, the 160-ton ABBIE BRAD- FORD, the steamer FANNY captured by rebels at Hatteras, and on October 10, the schooner JULIA was seized trying to run the blockade with a cargo worth $30,000. There were unarmed merchant sailing vessels captured by heavily armed rebel steamers which often used foreign fl ags at their mastheads to get close enough to capture unsuspecting vessels dependent on favorable winds. These losses of 1861 were just the beginning.
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