Like many North Carolinians, Alfred Moore Waddell, editor of the Wilmington Daily Herald, was pro-Union before open hostilities commenced in 1861. He supported John Bell of Tennessee and Edward Everett of Massachusetts for the presidential ticket in 1860, but patriotically supported North Carolina’s defense and self-determination after secession on May 20th. The following is drawn from www.cfhi.net, “Alfred Moore Waddell, Enlightened Wilmingtonian.”
Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circa1865.com
Witnessing the Bombardment of Fort Sumter
“On the evening of April 10, 1861, the telegraph operator at the Wilmington office confidentially communicated to me at the [Wilmington Daily] Herald office a telegram that had just passed through from General Beauregard to Jefferson Davis at Richmond, saying that he would open fire on Fort Sumter at 4 a.m., if Major Anderson refused to surrender.
Thereupon I hurried to the old “Manchester Depot” opposite to the Market Street dock on the other side of the [Cape Fear] river, and caught the train for Charleston as it was passing out. I described the trip to a New York audience in 1878 in the following brief sentences:
“I shall never forget that, after a night of great anxiety, and when about twenty miles from the city, just as the first grey streaks began to lighten the eastern sky, and when the silent swamps were wakened only by the rumble of the train, there was distinctly heard a single dull, heavy report like a clap of distant thunder, and immediately following it at intervals of a minute or two, that peculiar measured throb of artillery which was then so new, but afterwards became so familiar to our ears.
The excitement on the train at once became intense, and the engineer, sympathizing with it, opened his valves, and giving free rein to the iron horse, rushed us with tremendous speed into the historic city.
Springing from the train and dashing through the silent streets we entered our hotel, ascended to the roof, and here I experienced sensations which never before or since have been mine. As I stepped into the cupola and looked out upon that splendid harbor, there in the center of its gateway to the sea, half wrapped in the morning mist, lay Sumter, and high above its parapets, fluttering in the morning breeze floated proudly and defiantly the stars and stripes.
In a moment afterwards just above it there was a sudden red flash, and a column of smoke, followed by an explosion, and opposite on James Island, a corresponding puff floated away on the breeze, and I realized with emotion indescribable that I was looking upon a civil war among my countrymen.”
(Some Memories of My Life, Alfred Moore Waddell, Edwards & Broughton Printing, 1908, pp. 53-54)