The Civil War in North Carolina

Reminiscences and Memoirs of North Carolina and Eminent North Carolinians

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James L. Pettigrew,*

        * This should be spelled Pettigru; the South Carolina branch kept the French terminal in their name.--ED.

he completed his law studies in his office. After his admission to the bar, at the instance of his friends, who wished him to have every advantage that a finished education could present, he embarked in 1850 on a tour in Europe, where he spent two years in visiting England, Ireland, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland, studying their civil and military institutions, their laws, and their forms of government. While at Madrid he was tendered the post of Secretary of Legation by Mr. Barringer, then our envoy to Spain; this he declined. He returned home and commenced the practice of his profession at Charleston, in connection with his relative, James L. Pettigrew. Although he enjoyed great success, yet his connection with the bar was but of short duration, for the excitement of politics had superior charms. He took an active interest in the convention of the State to send delegates to the Cincinnati convention, and in October, 1856, he was chosen a member of the Legislature from the City of Charleston. His career as a politician was brief, but brilliant and useful. He was defeated in the October election of 1858. This disappointment enabled him to carry out a purpose long cherished by him. He felt an irrepressible desire for military service; when a student at Berlin he had endeavored to procure admission into the Prussian Army. He again went to Europe and offered his services to the Sardinian Government; his application was successful, but on his way to join the army he met the news of the peace of Villa-Franca, which put an end to his journey. He devoted to study a few months in Spain, and returned home at the close of 1859, when he wrote a book, "Spain and the Spaniards"--a book of the greatest interest and the sole memento left of his talents as an author. Mr. Pettigrew returned from Europe and was convinced, as he long had feared, that the conflict between the sections of our country was only a question of time, and that, too, not very remote. With this conviction he had been desirous of experiencing active military service abroad on a large scale; therefore he closely studied works on military science in various modern languages. On his return he devoted himself to the improvement of the militia organizations. He was elected Captain of a rifle company, which he drilled in the zouave tactics--its efficiency he had seen exhibited in Paris. Events of great importance now crowded upon each other. The State of South Carolina seceded from the Union, and called upon her sons to rally to the support of that government which they had been taught to love and obey. Major Anderson had suddenly evacuated Fort Moultrie and secured Fort Sumter under cover of the night. Fort Sumter was fired upon and surrendered, and we were in the presence of civil war. The unexpected occupation of Fort Sumter precipitated events. Pettigrew was ordered by Governor Pickens to demand of Anderson the evacuation of that fort. The result of that demand we give in Pettigrew's own words:

"To F. W. PICKENS, Governor.

        "SIR: I have the honor to report that pursuant to the instructions of your Excellency, I proceeded this morning to Fort Sumter in company with Major Ellison Copers, Acting Adjutant of my regiment. We were courteously received by Major Anderson, the commanding officer. I stated to him in the presence of all his officers that you had been astonished at the reception of the news of his having transferred his garrison to Fort Sumter; that by the understanding between the State of South Carolina and the President the property of the United States was to be respected, and on the other side the military posts should remain in an unchanged condition. In a word, the question was to be considered a political, not a military one. I enforced strongly that we had performed our part of this agreement; that we had discountenanced and repressed every attempt of the people upon the property of the United States, and I demanded in your name that affairs should be restored to their previous condition. He replied that he was a Southern man in his feelings upon the question at issue, and had so informed the Department when appointed; that he knew nothing of the agreement mentioned; that he was the military commander of all the forts in the harbor, and did not consider that he had reinforced them in merely transferring his garrison from one to another; that he had been informed that he would be attacked in case the report of our Commission was unfavorable; that Fort Moultrie was indefensible against an ordinary skillful attack; that he had acted entirely on his own responsibility. He declined to yield to my demand.

"Very respectfully,


        All hopes of peace were ended, and each section
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