These 620,000 enlisted and fought in the US Civil War that began, they say, with the firing of over 3,000 shells weighing upwards of 128 pounds each, on what was, and remains known as Fort Sumter.
It was on the 11th and 12th of April 1861, and that was 159 years ago a few weeks past.
Despite the massive poundings fired by the Southern Confederates, the Union did not lose a single man from enemy action.
As shown in past blogs, here are pre and during bombing images of the Fort.
It was then that an Irishman became what many claim was the first death of the war. He was getting ready to fire off the 47th volley, but a spark blew the barrel up, tearing off the soldier's arm. Within hours he'd be dead!
About a half dozen others also were killed when the same sparks set off shells ready to be fired. The resulting explosions took their lives as well.
So the claimed first deaths in the US Civil War, were NOT caused by enemy action, but in fact by ACCIDENT.
The first fellow to die was a 36 year old soldier named Daniel Hough. His name is proudly displayed on the US Government sponsored plaque at the Fort Sumter National Monument near Charleston South Carolina. Here is an image of that monument.
These are the two commanders that faced each other at Fort Sumter. The Union's Major Anderson on top and the Confederates Brig. General Beauregard at bottom.
I wanted to bring you this tidbit three weeks ago but managed to get tied up with other matters at the time of the 159th anniversary of this famous Civil War event.
Moving along to another matter, I have been a proud member of a group of US researchers into all matters relating to the Medal of Honor. In fact I joined shortly after it first opened its doors back in 2009 and remain its sole Canadian member. My interest is mostly directed towards the Canadians that were awarded the Medal of Honor.
A matter most in Canada are oblivious to!
Over the years the society has been of much more benefit to me than I to it. However, we have worked jointly on a number of MOH related matters. One of the most attention getting was the collaborative efforts of it and myself in the Joseph Noil story covered many times in these blogs.
Our group is called the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States.
Here we see the society cover page logo for one of its numerous newsletters each year.
Both were on the USS Franklin (shown below) at the time. And both received Medals of Honor for their bravery in saving a fellow sailor blown overboard while the vessel was caught up in the strong movement of tides near Portugal's capital city of Lisbon.
The man was destined to drown if not for the bravery of these two heroes and a third sailor.
The Cumberland was sunk in minutes, taking over 100 lives to their watery graves. Of the survivors, one Canadian went on later in the US Civil War to earn the Medal of Honor. The sole loss of one sailor for the Confederates that deadly day was yet another Canadian. He was from New Brunswick. At least another dozen Canadians had connections with that famous battle.
One so important that a depiction of it appeared on the Union's medal of service for all those who served in the navy on Union side during that famous war. Images of the medal are shown in earlier blogs.
In the early days General Orders were often issued that listed all the men receiving a Medal of Honor. Here is the one covering the actions at Lisbon.
Then something incredibly brave happened. The ship's captain realized that any vessel coming to their aid would probably result in some of them actually dying. He then discussed it with his crew and actually took a vote to wave off any attempts for their rescue knowing full well that all on boards would then be doomed.
All the man agreed and the flag was lowered. But in the confusion the rescuers still came forth. But by then several men on the Cleopatra had drowned. John Handran being one of these. For a whopping 2 cents you could buy the Boston Daily Globe on 29 December 1885. And therein, actually on its first page, you will find this brief notation...
A heartfelt thanks from those of us in Canada who know of our Medal of Honor connection to the US, and to all those yet to waken up to the role we on both sides of the border shared in protecting a peace that is so much in need of attention as I write and you read.
A huge thanks also to those that in our society and the extended Handran family for helping to preserve this man's story for all to enjoy and learn from in the days and weeks and months and years to come.
I will be off on other duties this coming Sunday but should be back in this space on the 15th.
Thanks to all, and please take some time to tell others of the work this blog is doing.
In the mean time, your comments are most welcome on this site.