James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

August 24

Twilight on Sumter

By Richard Henry Stoddard (1825–1903)

  • In the spring and summer of 1863, Fort Sumter, in possession of the Confederates since the surrender of Major Anderson, two years before, was bombarded by the Federal fleet, and by the artillery on Morris Island, until reduced almost to ruins.

  • STILL and dark along the sea

    Sumter lay;

    A light was overhead,

    As from burning cities shed,

    And the clouds were battle-red,

    Far away.

    Not a solitary gun

    Left to tell the fort had won

    Or lost the day!

    Nothing but the tattered rag

    Of the drooping rebel flag,

    And the sea-birds screaming round it in their play.

    How it woke one April morn,

    Fame shall tell;

    As from Moultrie, close at hand,

    And the batteries on the land,

    Round its faint but fearless band

    Shot and shell

    Raining hid the doubtful light;

    But they fought the hopeless fight

    Long and well,

    (Theirs the glory, ours the shame!)

    Till the walls were wrapt in flame,

    Then their flag was proudly struck, and Sumter fell!

    Now—oh, look at Sumter now,

    In the gloom!

    Mark its scarred and shattered walls,

    (Hark! the ruined rampart falls!)

    There’s a justice that appalls

    In its doom;

    For this blasted spot of earth

    Where rebellion had its birth

    Is its tomb!

    And when Sumter sinks at last

    From the heavens, that shrink aghast,

    Hell shall rise in grim derision and make room!