150 Years Ago: Oswego Reacts to Start of Civil War

The attack on Fort Sumter, captured in this Currier & Ives print.  Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
The attack on Fort Sumter, captured in this Currier & Ives print. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The Oswego Public Library sends along this excerpt from Oswego’s newspaper, the Oswego Commercial Times, announcing the start of the Civil War as Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina:



GRIM VISAGED WAR IS UPON US ! Our dispatched to-day disclose the fact that the rebel authorities of Charleston have assumed the bloody responsibility of opening a causeless and senseless warfare upon the government of the United States. The days of bullying are passed! The slaveholders who for the past ten years have kept this otherwise peaceful country in a constant uproar, have at last proceeded to the dire extremity of war, inaugurating a struggle which will end with the overthrow of their cherished institution and their own discomfiture.

MEN OF THE NORTH ! Are you ready to accept the issue ? The noble government of our fathers is assailed with armed force. Will you in this hour forget whose sons you are, whose inheritance you possess ? The rebel Confederacy who have thus begun the war have not the means of carrying on a successful struggle against the twenty million of loyal people of the Free States, who have exhausted every means of conciliation and peace. The die is cast ! However much we may deprecate the calamities of war, it is forced upon us and we must stand by the Stars and Stripes to the end. Our cause is just. We are fighting for a government which has been the admiration of the world and the benefactor of mankind. An Omnipotent God will approve our efforts on behalf of civil liberty. Our prophecy is that the first rebel shot fired upon Sumpter will knit together in unbroken phalanx the true men of the country, North and South. Let party differences be thrown to the winds. Perish dissensions when our country is in peril ! All together let us stand ready to accept the consequences, and to do our devoir like men in whose minds yet linger recollections of Bunker Hill, Yorktown and Saratoga. TO ARMS ! Down with the rebel flag – up with the good old banner which our fathers have carried in triumph on the road to glory !


Our readers must remember that the accounts we receive over the wires from Charleston are from rebel sources. Hence we may expect perversion and misstatement. …

Latest from Charleston.


The cannonading is going on to-day fiercely from all points – from the vessels outside – and all along our coast.

Fort Sumpter is on fire!


CHARLESTON, April 13– 10 ½ A. M.

At intervals of twenty minutes firing was kept up all night at Fort Sumpter.

Major Anderson ceased firing from Fort Sumpter at 6 o’clock in the morning. All night he was engaged in repairing damages and protecting the barbette guns. He commenced to return fire at 7 o’clock this morning.

Fort Sumpter seems to be greatly disabled.

The battery on Cumming’s Point does Fort Sumpter great damage,

At nine o’clock this morning a dense smoke poured out from Fort Sumpter. The Federal flag at half mast signalled distress.

The shells from Fort Moultrie and the batteries on Morris Island fall into Major Anderson’s strong hold thick and fast, and they can be seen in their course from the Charleston battery.

From Charleston Last Night.


The firing ceased for the night, to be resume at day light in the morning, unless an attempt be make to reinforce.

Only two men were wounded during the day.

The Pawnee and Harriet Lane are reported off the bar.

Troops are arriving by every train.


CHARLESTON, April 12– 6 P. M.

Dispatches from the floating battery state that two men have been wounded on Sullivan’s Island. Quite a number have been struck by spent pieces of shells and knocked down, but none hurt seriously.—Three ships are visible in the offing, and it is believed an attempt will be made to-night to throw reinforcements into Sumpter by boats.

It is also thought, from the regular and and frequent firing of Anderson, that he has a much larger force than was supposed.

There have been two rainstorms to-day, but it had no effect upon the battle.

WAR NEWS. – Nothing was talked of in town yesterday but the war news.—Everybody was eager for fresh intelligence, feeling that the telegraph is all too slow in such a moment. We are glad to say, also, that the sentiment of the people is unanimous, so far as we have observed.—Democrats and all others declare that the rebels have begun a needless war, and that there is no escape from a collision in which the whole power of the government must be exerted to put down the insane zealots who have assailed the Stars and Stripes.—There are few Secessionists in Oswego.—Her militia companies are ready at the call of their country to uphold the “flag of the free,” and there are numbers of men ready to volunteer if called upon.

Other news of the day

It is said that the negro Livingston, from Lockport, who is now in jail at Covington, Ky., will shortly be sold into Slavery to pay jail fees, unless two witnesses appear and swear that he is a free man.