-- Aftermath --

Friday April 14, 1865

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Victory Turns to Ashes

Exactly four years to the day that he withdrew from Fort Sumter, Major General Robert Anderson returned to participate in a ceremony to raise the original flag. The war was virtually over. Richmond, the Confederate capital, had fallen in early April, and General Robert E. Lee had surrendered his forces at Appomattox Courthouse less than a week before this Sumter commemoration. The fort itself had been restored to the Union only recently, in February 1865, when its defenders withdrew under threat from advancing Union forces.

Anderson, now sixty years old and white-haired, had retired from active duty because of poor health. He spoke a few words as he raised the tattered flag he had taken with him four years before. The fort barely resembled the structure he had abandoned; intense Union bombardment had reduced much of it to rubble and debris. There were speeches, music, and a prolonged salute of guns, this time without incident, and the ceremony concluded.

That evening in Washington, not long after Anderson raised the Union flag over Fort Sumter, President Lincoln attended a play at Ford's Theatre. Shortly after 10 p.m., he was shot by John Wilkes Booth.

Bibliography: Swanberg, First Blood, pp. 333-39; Meredith, Storm over Sumter, pp. 1-13; Randall and Donald, Civil War, p. 452; Long, Civil War, pp. 639-40, 675-76.

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