Timeline of Events

The Occupation of Castle Pinckney

The Rifle Battalion, under command of Col. J.J. PETTIGREW, assembled promptly upon the Citadel Green. They were substantially equipped in winter uniform, with blankets, knapsacks and revolvers. The battalion numbered some 150 men, and consisted of detachments from the Meagher Guards, the Carolina Light Infantry and the Washington Light Infantry. Shortly after four o'clock the word was given, and the companies advanced in double quick time, without music, towards the Cooper River. None of them, we believe, excepting the officers, were aware of their destination. They embarked on the steamer Nina, which immediately headed for Castle Pinckney, and the surmise soon became confirmed that the destination of the command was to take possession of that fortress. On nearing the fort, a number of men were observed on the wharf, one of whom, in advance of the others, was observed holding what appeared to be a paper in his hand. This was said to have been the Riot Act. As soon as the Nina touched the wharf, the storming party who had been detailed for that duty, sprung ashore and rushed round to the rear of the fortress, where the gate is situated. This was found closed, and a cry for storming ladders was soon answered by a detachment bearing a dozen or more of them. These were instantly planted, and under cover of the rifles of the battalion, the walls were escaladed and the gates thrown open.

On entering the fort it was found to be tenanted only by an officer of Engineers and a small party of laborers - none of whom made any resistance. The Engineer officer was informed that he was at liberty to leave, and remove his personal effects, and in a few minutes he set out in a boat belonging to the fort, accompanied by four other men. From the direction in which he steered, it was supposed that he went to Fort Moultrie.

The flag of the Nina, consisting of a white star on a red ground, was then hoisted amid loud cheers; and when our reported left, a strong guard had been mounted, and preparations for garrisoning the fortress were well advanced.

About seven o'clock the tramp of detachments from the artillery regiments was heard, and the Washington Artillery, the German Artillery, the Lafayette Artillery, and the Marion Artillery, making a total of two hundred and twenty- five men, rank and file, under command of Col. WILMOT G. DESAUSSURE, were soon embarked on board the Nina and General Clinch, and steamed away down the harbor towards Sullivan's Island. Among those on board were Col. CHARLES ALSTON, Aid to the Governor, and Capt. HUMPHREYS, of the Arsenal. On reaching the island these two last named gentlemen approached the gate, and the sentinel, in accordance, it is said, with orders, surrendered on demand. The troops then quietly took possession, and the Palmetto flag was soon waving over the time-honored fortifications. Three rockets (the signal agreed upon) were then sent up, to notify the people in the city that the fort was in the hands of the State, and then the newly installed garrison betook themselves, as best they might, to devising the ways and means of comfort and protection. Thus far had the affair progressed up to a late hour last night.

This transfer of the troops from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter is regarded as an outrageous breach of faith. For there was a distinct understanding with the General Government, upon the highest authority, that no such transfer would be made, no reinforcement of either of the forts attempted, and no transfer of arms or ammunition. Relying upon these declarations, the authorities of South Carolina had not taken the forts when completely within their power. They have acted with good faith, and expected it in return.

Major ANDERSON alleges that the movement was made without orders and upon his own responsibility, and that he was not aware of such an understanding. He is a gentleman, and we will not impugn his word or his motives. But it is due to South Carolina and to good faith, that the act of this officer be repudiated by the Government, and that the troops be removed forthwith from Fort Sumter.

REF: The Charleston Mercury - 28 DEC 1860

The Civil War in South Carolina