|Harriet Lane (top, right) and the modern US Coast Guard cutter (USCG)|
The namesake of the vessel that fired what’s believed to be the first naval shot of the Civil War will commemorate the incident this afternoon near Fort Sumter, the US Coast Guard says.
In mid-April 1861, the US Revenue cutter Harriet Lane fired across the bow of a merchant steamship that attempted to enter Charleston Harbor in South Carolina without displaying a flag indicating its nationality.
The ceremony marking the 158th anniversary of the incident will take place at 1 p.m. at the Coast Guard’s Charleston station at 196 Tradd St. The crew of US Coast Guard cutter Harriet Lane, which is making a stop in the city, will fire a commemorative shot.
The Harriet Lane was part of a fleet President Abraham Lincoln had ordered to bring supplies to Fort Sumter. The ships were turned back by Confederate artillery fire from land and the Harriet Lane returned to the harbor entrance late on April 11 and into April 12.
“Later that morning the cutter observed the rapid approach of a steamer flying no colors. The revenue cutter ordered the vessel to come to and show her colors. The unidentified vessel ignored these signals and continued toward Charleston Harbor. (Capt. John) Faunce ordered a 32-pound cannon shot fired across the steamer’s bow, which turned out to be the South Carolina steamship Nashville," the Coast Guard says.
The Nashville finally raised an American flag and Faunce allowed her to pass into Charleston Harbor (the steamer later became an infamous blockade runner and Confederate cruiser).
Federal Maj. Robert Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter on April 13, 1861.
The Harriet Lane, a sidewheeler, served the Union until captured and converted by Confederate forces in Galveston, Texas, in 1863.
The modern-day Harriet Lane, a 270-foot medium endurance cutter, is returning to its home port of Portsmouth, Va., after “conducting a successful 80-day counter-narcotics patrol of the Caribbean Sea,” the Coast Guard said.