Sunday, November 13

This Week in The Civil War: Sunday, Nov. 13

Port Royal aftermath, Seizure of Southern envoys

Detailed accounts by The Associated Press and others of the Battle of Port Royal, S.C., are reaching newspapers around the divided nation in mid-November of 1861. AP reports that Union forces off the South Carolina coast had captured 55 cannons, some 500 muskets and "any quantity of ammunition" during the attack. The dispatch also reports "Thirty dead rebels have been found, and more are being found, having been hastily buried in the sand." The New York Times reports on Nov. 14, 1861, that Union Brig. Gen. Thomas Sherman landed at Port Royal and issued a proclamation to "the people of South Carolina," the state where a Confederate artillery attack on Union-held Fort Sumter opened the war in April 1861. Sherman writes that federal forces have arrived "with no feelings of person animosity; no desire to harm your citizens, destroy your property, or interfere with any of your lawful rights." Yet the proclamation adds: "The civilized world stands appalled at the course you are pursuing! .. You are in a state of active rebellion against the laws of your country ... waging a ruthless war against your Constitutional Government ... "The Times reports new accounts of the battle, that federal warships delivered "raking broadsides" on the two Confederate-held forts lining Port Royal Sound. It adds: "All our accounts concur in testifying that the rebels fought bravely and well. But our broadsides were overwhelming." This month sees another key development in the federal capture of two Southern envoys, James Mason and John Slidell, taken off a British steamer intercepted at sea by the Union warship San Jacinto. The detention of the envoys - who had been sent by the Confederacy to Britain in hopes of boosting support for the South - heightens Union tensions for weeks with Britain.

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