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November 19, 2015

By meriwether, Nov 21 2015 01:35PM

Greetings from Charleston -


Across the darkened, pre-dawn, star lit sky of April 12, 1861, a Confederate shell arched high above Charleston Harbor, exploding with a burst of light over Federal controlled Fort Sumter Island. It was 4:30 a.m. and the 85 Union defenders and their commander, Major Robert Anderson, surrounded by Confederate batteries ringing Charleston Harbor, knew that this was the beginning - the beginning of a Civil War - a war that would become the most cataclysmic conflict in our country’s history resulting in the deaths of 620,000 Americans, roughly equal that of all other American wars combined.


That opening starburst shell was a signal to the 19 Confederate batteries surrounding the island fort to begin their bombardment. It would go on for 34 hours and would rain down over 3,000 shells on the beleaguered Union forces.


Commanding those 19 Confederate batteries was Major Anderson’s former artillery student and assistant at West Point - and also a former friend - Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard who demanded the surrender of the fort. Anderson refused. And thus, the bombardment commenced. Amazingly, through that 34 hour shelling, not a single Union soldier died, probably due to the massive, three tiered, 5 foot thick brick walls of the Fort.


Still . . . shell shocked and realizing the hopeless situation of his men, Anderson made the decision to surrender his garrison. Given honorable terms of surrender, Anderson and his men lowered the U.S. 33 star flag, and boarded ships bound for New York.


Four long years of Civil War would ensue, and the Union would eventually take control of the batteries surrounding Fort Sumter, and in turn bombard the now Confederate held fort with over 50,000 shells over a period of 15 months, in effect, reducing the fort to a pile of rubble. (That pile would actually preserve the bottom portions of the fort for us to wonder at today!)


When Robert E. Lee and the Confederacy surrendered in 1865, a ceremony would be held on April 14 at Fort Sumter to raise the Stars and Stripes once again - four years to the day that the Flag had been lowered in surrender. An officer who knew the fort well helped to raise Old Glory back to its place of honor. The officer was General Robert Anderson. That very same night, 600 miles to the north, John Wilkes Booth would step into Abraham Lincoln’s box at Ford’s Theater and end the life the Man who had preserved the Union.


I’m here in Charleston, and my odometer has just turned over 3,000 miles. My visit to Fort Sumter was on a cloudy and breezy day, but the ride out to the mouth of Charleston Harbor where the Fort is located was truly enjoyable. Our small group spent about an hour at the fort . . . and I could have spent five as I did on my first visit a number of years ago. It is such an interesting place to experience, and the echoes of those thousands of falling shells are not heard, but seen in the remains of the preserved bottom tiers of the Fort. It was a well spent and quite fascinating hour!


Yesterday I volunteered with Charleston Habitat For Humanity on a small house being rehabbed in the downtown area. My plan was just to visit the Fort and continue south, but I’m glad I was able to help out on a Charleston Habitat project. We were a small group of volunteers doing some things like painting to get the small dwelling into good condition. My wheels will roll into Savannah next week, but with the Thanksgiving Holiday, not much will be going on, so it’s good that this week Charleston provided an opportunity to work with Habitat.


At this 3,000 mile mark, I again would like to thank all those who have supported my ride through your donations to Habitat For Humanity and Save The Children. Barney Stewart, who is a fellow volunteer at Maumee Valley Habitat For Humanity, has added his name to the list, and his donation put the combined donations for both causes over $7,000. But of course, all the donations have helped reach that point, and all are equally appreciated by this wandering cyclist! So with that in mind, a hearty Thanksgiving Thank You to all of my donors:



Scott Abrams

Barry Alcock

GeorgeAnne and Bill Baldridge

Mark Bodenmiller

Mary Baird

Holly Browning

Bruce Burgin

Mike Burke

Bernie Camp

Jessica Cheney

Sandy and Dino Ciolino

Katherine Collins

Gary and Pat Corrigan

Mike and Cyndy Cotter

Joe Cotter

Mike Coyle

Karen Cummings

Jim and Angel Dandar

Dave and Bonnie Dixon

Jim Fisher

Jim and Judy Galliers

Ron Greller

Bob and Judy Haas

Julie and Bryan Haas

Sally Haltoms

Chris Harrington

Cris Hastin

Jim and Diane Hermann

Eileen and Harold Hoffman

Dee and Brian Hyde

Pat Hyde

Amy and Brian Hoey

Jim and Sue King

Debbie Kimmelman

Gary and Sally Kranz

Tim and Joan Kreps

Sue and Ron Lang

Gail Latham

Mary Jo Lehmann

Kristin Low

Joan MacPherson

Harry McGovern

Don and Patty McGraw

Larry Martin

Michael Mihalick

Beth and Bruce Miller

Jerry Mills

Tom Moffitt

Kathie and Joe Myers

Mary Ann Oess (representing the Saint V’s nurses)

Kathy and Michael Peace

Philip (Flip) Purvis

Sue Rauhut

Linda Rogers

Janet Rogolsky

Jenny Saunders

Jack Smith

Jan and Tim Scovic

Barney Stewart

Suzanne and Jeff Storer

Dennis and Linda Studer

Di and Pam Allen-Thompson

Linda Telmanik

Janet Van Nest

Jeff Wagner

Dale and Vicky Wiltse

Ray and Kris Young


Can it be Thanksgiving already - and can I still be Proceeding On

1 comments
Jan 11 2016 10:44PM by Ed Pohlman

Thank you so much for sharing the history of our nation as you travel the highways and the by-ways. And for sharing your Habitat experiences. Both are inspiring!

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