Daily Update: Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

04-12 - Bombardment of Fort Sumter

With no Saints to honor today, we turn our attention to the events on this date in 1861, when the first shots of the American Civil War were fired by Confederate batteries in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, on Fort Sumter, held by the Union forces.

Construction of Fort Sumter had began in 1827, and the structure was still unfinished in December 1860 when South Carolina seceded from the Union. The fort was a five-sided brick structure, 170 to 190 feet long, with walls five feet thick, standing 50 feet over the low tide mark. It was designed to house 650 men and 135 guns in three tiers of gun emplacements, although it was never filled near its full capacity. On April 11th Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard sent a last delegation to U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson asking for the surrender of the fort. When no surrender was forthcoming, the next day Confederate batteries opened fire, firing for 34 straight hours on the fort. Edmund Ruffin, noted Virginian agronomist and secessionist, claimed that he fired the first shot on Fort Sumter; his story was widely believed, but Lieutenant Henry S. Farley, commanding a battery of two mortars on James Island, fired the first shot at 4:30 am. Contemporary accounts, such as in the famous diary of Mary Chesnut, describe Charleston residents along what is now known as The Battery sitting on balconies and drinking salutes to the start of the hostilities. The garrison returned fire, but it was ineffective, in part because Major Anderson did not use the guns mounted on the highest barbette tier where the gun detachments would be more exposed to Confederate fire. During the attack the Union colors fell; Lt. Norman J. Hall risked life and limb to put them back up, burning off his eyebrows permanently. On April 13th the fort was surrendered and evacuated. No Union soldiers died in the actual battle though a Confederate soldier bled to death, having been wounded by a misfiring cannon. One Union soldier died and another was mortally wounded during the 47th shot of a 100 shot salute allowed by the Confederacy. Afterwards the salute was shortened to 50 shots. The Fort Sumter Flag became a popular patriotic symbol after Maj. Anderson returned North with it, and the flag is still displayed in the fort’s museum. Fort Sumter National Monument encompasses three sites in Charleston: the original Fort Sumter, the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center, and Fort Moultrie on Sullivan’s Island. Access to Fort Sumter itself is by private boat or a 30-minute ferry ride from the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center or Patriots Point. I was at Fort Sumter as a child, and all I could (or can) recall of that trip was the boat ride; Richard and I visited Fort Sumter National Monument as my 57th National Park on September 29th, 2011.

Last evening Richard got online and got a room at the Bourbon Orleans Motel in New Orleans for next Wednesday evening for me (or for me and Julie); it’s a nonrefundable room, so even if Julie cannot meet me in New Orleans on Wednesday night or on Thursday I will still go down to New Orleans next Wednesday to use the room. Also, our New Orleans Pelicans lost their away Pro Basketball game with the Chicago Bulls by the score of 116 to 121.

I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. When we got to the casino we signed the Early Out list. When we clocked in, Richard was on $5.00 Minimum Bet Blackjack, and I was on Four Card Poker; but we were not at our tables long, as the Pencil had us out by 3:15 am. We arrived back home at 4:00 am, and I went back to bed.

At 11:15 am I woke up (again), after having very strange dreams. I read the morning paper, and at 12:15 pm Richard and I went out into town. We ate Chinese for lunch at Peking, and at Wal-Mart I got a new black belt for work and some other items, while Richard got some groceries. We then went to the bank, where we cashed the check that Richard had gotten for jury duty (he let me keep the cash).

Arriving back home at 1:45 pm, I reconciled the bank statement with our checkbook and my Checkbook Pro app (everything came out perfect) while Richard mowed (not “ironed”) the grass. I did some Advance Daily Update Drafts for this weblog, taking a break to watch Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm. I then did more Advance Daily Update Drafts, and at 7:30 pm Richard and I had dinner (baked chicken, boiled small whole potatoes, and canned corn). When I finish this Daily Update I plan to take a hot bath and to finish reading The Commodore by Patrick O’Brian. Our #9 ranked LSU Tigers are playing a single home Baseball game tonight with McNeese State; I will post the score of the game in Wednesday’s Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Martin I, Pope and Martyr, and the seven-year anniversary of this weblog.I will get up early to do my laundry and to do the Weekly Computer Maintenance. Late in the morning I will get a haircut in town, then head to Lafayette, where I will eat lunch, pick up Beneath a Marble Sky by John Shors at the Lafayette Public Library, and put in some comfy chair time at Barnes and Noble. Our #9 ranked LSU Tigers will play a single home Baseball game with Grambling tomorrow, and tomorrow evening our New Orleans Pelicans will play an away Pro Basketball game in the last game of the regular season with the Minnesota Timberwolves. (And this will be the last game of their season, as they are not in the Playoffs.) And the First Quarter Moon will arrive at 11:01 pm.

Our Parting Quote on this Tuesday evening comes to us from Brennan Manning, American priest and author. Born as Richard Francis Xavier Manning in 1934 in Brooklyn, New York, after attending St. John’s University for two years he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, serving overseas as a sports writer for the U.S. Marine Corps newspaper. Upon his return Brennan began a program in journalism at the University of Missouri. He departed after a semester, restlessly searching for something “more” in life. “Maybe the something ‘more’ is God,” an adviser suggested, triggering Brennan’s enrollment at Saint Francis Catholic seminary in Loretto, Pennsylvania. In February 1956, while Brennan was meditating on the Stations of the Cross, a powerful experience of the personal love of Jesus Christ sealed the call of God on his life. While in the seminary, he was sent to Columbia University as a graduate student in creative writing. Four years later, he graduated from Saint Francis College with a major in philosophy and minor in Latin. He went on to complete four years of advanced studies in theology, meanwhile being ordained to the Franciscan priesthood in May of 1963. Brennan’s ministry responsibilities varied greatly. He served as a theology instructor and campus minister at the University of Steubenville. He worked as the liturgy instructor and spiritual director at Saint Francis Seminary. He lived and worked among the poor in Europe and the United States. During a two-year leave of absence from the Franciscans in the late sixties, Brennan journeyed to Spain and joined the Little Brothers of Jesus of Charles de Foucauld, an order committed to an uncloistered, meditative life among the poor. Among his many and varied assignments, he became a solitary reflective, secluded in a remote cave for six months in the Zaragoza desert. The early seventies found Brennan back in the United States as he and four other priests established an experimental community in the bustling seaport city of Bayou La Batre, Alabama. Seeking to model the primitive life of the Franciscans, the fathers settled in a house on Mississippi Bay and quietly went to work on shrimp boats, ministering to the shrimpers and their families who had drifted out of reach from the church. The fathers restored a chapel that had been destroyed by Hurricane Camille and offered a Friday night liturgy and social event there, which soon became a popular gathering and precipitated many families’ return to engagement in the local church. Brennan then moved to Ft. Lauderdale, Florida and resumed campus ministry at Broward Community College. This was harshly interrupted, however, when he suffered a precipitate collapse into alcoholism. Six months of treatment restored his health and placed him on the road to recovery. It was at this point in his life that Brennan began writing in earnest. His first book was Gentle Revolutionaries (1970). One book soon followed another as invitations for him to speak and to lead spiritual retreats multiplied exponentially. His most famous book was The Ragamuffin Gospel (published in 1990, and re-issued in 2000 and 2005), a book about the essence of Christianity. Manning argued that Jesus’ gospel was one of grace, and that efforts to earn salvation are impossibly misguided. In his book he stated that the true meaning of God’s grace has been lost in society amidst a constant search to merely please God, as though the Almighty is only a “small minded book keeper,” who tallies sins and uses them against humanity. Citing numerous biblical references and utilizing colleagues’ stories, Manning illustrated the simple need for humanity to accept the freedom of God’s grace, and its power to change lives. He spent the remainder of his life traveling widely as he continued to write and preach, encouraging men and women everywhere to accept and embrace the good news of God’s unconditional love in Jesus Christ. His last two books were Patched Together: A Story of My Story (2010) and All Is Grace: A Ragamuffin Memoir (2011) (died 2013): “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians who acknowledge Jesus with their lips and walk out the door and deny Him by their lifestyle.”

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