Fort Sumter (Continued)

Fort Sumter II

When we docked at the island fort, after receiving behavior from the rangers, we disembarked. I meandered through the fort, poking my head through the gun-holes and sighting down the barrel toward the detained Egyptian ship we had passed. I know the detained Egyptian sailors on board may be pissed, for they are truly victims of legal issues beyond their control, but imagine how the hundreds of arrested Northerners felt during the War Between the States when Lincoln suspended the right of Habeas Corpus. (Shades of Patriot Laws!) He really did that. In all, Lincoln arrested about 13,000 IN THE NORTH under martial law. It seems he was not open-minded about some things. I think 200 of them were newspaper editors who criticized him. Here’s a site where you can read Lincoln’s and Secretary of State Seward’s proclamation of that sad decision:

Of course, my view from the fort could only be partial. Fort Sumter was once much higher, with three levels—now it has only one. A good bit remains considering it was first pounded by the Confederates, followed by an extended pounding by the Federals, then by years of neglect, then remodeled a bit when it served as a WWII fort. I thought about the 400 or so Confederates stationed here during the war, and wondered how they stood it. I strolled through the museum, found a water fountain, then climbed as high as I could legally. I studied the sailboat regatta/beach party. I wandered through the tiring tourists. Within ten minutes of disembarking, some had already made their way back to the ferry. I stepped outside the fort to the smoking area, then because it was low tide, I strolled the beach. Returning inside the fort, I pestered the ranger with more questions. He seemed eager to talk, and as I said, was fairly knowledgeable. Five minutes before departure time, I joined the other passengers on the ferry. As we sailed back to the National Monument dock, I reflected on the trip, and I noticed that I hadn’t spoken to anyone other than the Tennessee worker and the rangers. That’s really not like me. I tend to be more gregarious and initiate conversations, but I guess at times I need introspective days like that, returning to that solitude that a writer must have.

I’ve got more words than I can put down tonight, more things I want to say about my Charleston trip. I’ve had a good bit of solitude the past few days. Maybe it worked.