National Geographic : 1961 Apr
Aristocratic Charleston makes war a social event j GENERAL RIPLEY yesterday re " viewed the garrison at Fort Sumter. The review was witnessed by quite a number of spectators, including... Mr. F. Vizetelly... the correspondent of the London Illustrated News, and several ladies."-The Mercury, Charleston, S. C., January 20, 1863. Sociable Mr. Vizetelly and sociable Charles ton met on grim ground. He picked his way south from Richmond, determined to see the city where the war began, and arrived to find a Federal blockading fleet cruising steadily back and forth at the harbor's mouth, stitch ing one of the few remaining holes in the sack that slowly smothered the Confederacy. Charleston, aristocratic and assured, faced it all calmly. Ladies and their escorts and crowds of frolicking Negroes turned out on 472 April 7, when Adm. Samuel du Pont vainly hurled his ironclads at Fort Sumter (above). Vizetelly watched from a parapet of the fort. The garrison ran up its flags, a band blared "Dixie," and officers, playing Drake in the face of the Federal armada, finished dinner between the time the fleet advanced at 2 p.m. and firing began an hour later. Insulated from Federal armies by the breadth and depth of the Confederacy, and harassed but not seriously threatened by the blockading fleet, Charleston preserved some of the Old South's amenities and gaiety. The Mercury chronicled life in the city Vizetelly knew and loved so well. "Hibernian Hall. A Grand Ball and May Festival will be given by the Amicita Club this evening, May 1st. The services of the Celebrated Palmetto Band have been engaged for the occasion." Today, hoop-skirted girls and Citadel ca dets recall the spirit of the time in a Charles ton ballroom (right).