This Week in the Civil War - #1030
On the very same day--Friday, February 17, 1865—that Columbia, South Carolina was surrendered to Sherman’s attacking Federals, Charlestown was evacuated by her Confederate defenders. William Hardee’s Confederates abandoned the birthplace of secession in 1861 and what some saw as the spiritual capital of the entire Confederacy. The following day Northern troops under General Alexander Schimmelfennig accepted the formal surrender of Charlestown from its mayor. A Federal band played “Hail Columbia,” awakening wild enthusiasm, as one observer described, in the hearts of the city’s black population. Union troops also rowed out to occupy Fort Sumter, whose walls were now battered into rubble, to triumphantly raise the American flag over that fortification. On this day in 1865 the very soul of the Confederacy seemed about to be extinguished.