Lens-Artists Challenge #70 – Monochrome
“War is what happens when language fails.”
Last week, while hosting my brother and his girlfriend, we made a visit to nearby Fort Sumter, where the first shots of the U.S. Civil War were fired. The solemnity of the monument created a perfect opportunity for my response to Patti’s monochrome challenge.
“Listen up. There’s no war that will end all wars.”
While historians disagree on some of the causes, it is clear that slavery was a primary issue dividing the country. Ironically, the bricks of the fort were fired and its walls built by slaves – some bricks still house their fingerprints. Further, along with the Confederate soldiers, slaves fought in the fort’s defense during the Union onslaught. Imagine the stories these walls could tell.
“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.”
Because Fort Sumter protected the only entry to Charleston harbor (through which the south’s war supplies were delivered), it was attacked mercilessly. After a failed attack by sea, Union troops assaulted by land, reducing the fort mostly to rubble. Despite heavy damage Confederate troops refused to surrender. After 20 months of attack by land and sea, Union forces abandoned the effort and sent their men and ammunition to assist in the campaign against Richmond, Virginia. The Confederates finally evacuated the fort in February of 1865.
“We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other’s children.”
Sounds valiant, doesn’t it – after all, everyone loves an underdog. In reality though, the Civil War was friend vs friend, brother vs brother, neighbor vs neighbor. There is no winner in such a war, perhaps not in any war. 150+ years after its end, it’s only in the recent past that we have begun to address the horror of slavery and the injustice of discrimination.
“There are perhaps many causes worth dying for, but to me, certainly, there are none worth killing for.”
The partially restored fort is now a National Monument managed by the National Park Service. The only access is by boat via the one company allowed to dock there. There is a history museum at the point of departure and a park ranger on the boat as well as at the fort. There are tours at the site as well as a free, open-air lesson on the fort’s history.
“All war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”
The boat ride to the fort crosses Charleston Harbor, typically populated by large ships awaiting access, small fishing vessels and small sailboats. Gulls and pelicans soar overhead and dolphins can be seen along the way. For $23 visitors enjoy a 30 minute cruise each way, access to the museum, and an hour to meander through the fort with guides well-versed in its history. There are no restrictions on photography.
“The world is full enough of hurts and mischances without wars to multiply them.”
As shown in my opening image, on the day of our visit the fort’s flag was flying at half-mast in honor of Senator Elijah Cummings’ passing. How ironic that 150 years after those within Sumter’s walls fought to defend slavery, a black senator was being honored by its flag. No matter our politics, this was a moment to savor.
Many thanks to those who responded to my “Seeing Double” challenge. The variety of responses was wonderful; we enjoyed every one of them. Patti, Ann-Christine, Amy and I greatly appreciate your support and look forward to your Monochrome responses. To view and link to Patti’s original post, click here. And please remember to tag your post with our Lens-Artists tag.