16/06/2019 - NEXT MEETING - The Ironclad Attack on Fort Sumter – April 7, 1863 Rick Hatcher

“I have attempted to take the bull by the horns, but he was too much for us.”

In our June meeting we continue our conference theme ‘War in the Carolinas’ with a presentation from Richard W. Hatcher, former Park Historian at Fort Sumter.


“I have attempted to take the bull by the horns, but he was too much for us.”


With these words, Rear Admiral Samuel F. Du Pont confessed to General David Hunter on April 8, 1863 the failure of his attempt to seize Charleston Harbour the previous day. He had assembled a formidable fleet of seven monitors, one ironclad, and an ironclad frigate, totalling 32 heavy guns, to engage the over 70 heavy guns and mortars which held the harbour’s mouth secure. His ships had sailed confidently up the channel and engaged the defences with massive, concentrated fire, and the Confederates had responded with equal firepower. After two and a half hours, DuPont ordered his warships to withdraw. The first ironclad fleet attack in history by U.S. Navy had failed.

Fort Sumter had been struck 57 times during the attack. Damage to its five foot thick walls ranged from 2 inch chips to a crater 10 feet by 8 feet across and 2 feet 6 inches deep. Changes were made to the fort to meet future attacks and over the next year and a half, Sumter, once a grand masonry fort, was transformed into a massive bombproof, nearly impervious to federal shot and shell.




A native of Richmond, VA, Richard W. Hatcher III is a 1973 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University where he earned a BA in History. In 1970 Rick began working for the National Park Service (NPS) and has worked at seven NPS units, including four Civil War battlefields. He has been a volunteer, part time, and full time employee as a law enforcement officer, ranger, curator, librarian, and historian. Rick’s last full time assignment began in 1992 as the Historian at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. Though he retired in 2015, Rick has continued his association with the NPS as a volunteer and serves on the Fort Sumter-Fort Moultrie Historical Trust board as chairman of its History Committee.


From 1978 Rick has maintained memberships in Civil War Round Tables. He was a member and one term president of the Round Table of the Ozarks and a member of the Charleston Round Table. He is a charter member of the Fort Sumter Civil War Round Table, established in 2019, and is currently its 2nd vice president.


He is co-author of The First Shot (2011) on the 1861 bombardment of Fort Sumter, and his two volume history of the fort, Thunder In The Harbor will be published in 2019 by Savas Beatie Press. He is currently working on 100 Significant Civil Photographs of Charleston, also to be published in 2019, by Historical Publications. He is also the co-author of Wilson’s Creek, The Second Major Battle of the Civil War and the Men Who Fought It (2000) and Wilson’s Creek, Pea Ridge, and Prairie Grove (2006).


Meetings are held at the Civil Service Club London 1:00pm start