Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Today In History... Sort Of.

On August 17, 1863, Naval troops under the command of Union Admirals DuPont and Dahlgren, in combination with ground forces under Brigadier General Quincy A. Gilmore, laid siege to Ft. Sumter, SC. The fort had been in the hands of Confederate troops since April of 1861.

The following 4-page tale is about the loss of Fort Sumter to the Confederacy in what would later turn out to be the first shots fired in the American Civil War.

Script by Raymond Marais, art by Jeff Jones- from The Phantom#25, September,1967.

Okay, so what does all that have to do with Westerns? Didn't that happen on the East Coast?

Well, yes, but the repercussions of that encounter in 1861 shaped the West in a myriad of ways.

The American Civil War saw the development of Railroads, revolvers, repeater rifles (the three R's of the Wild West) . Generals Philip Sheridan and George Armstrong Custer were celebrated commanders of the Civil War before turning their attention West to an all-out campaign against the indigenous peoples of this continent. Buffalo Bill Cody and Wild Bill Hickok were both scouts for the Union Army.

When the war ended, it left a lot of men with no jobs and a Hell of a lot of training with guns. Just like the rise of Caribbean piracy at the end of the 17th century, the West had an abundance of violent men looking for work. Some became cowboys. Others lawmen. Still others, such as the James Gang, used their knowledge of commando tactics to knock over banks and rob trains.

So, without the attack on Fort Sumter, the West would probably have been a very different place.


  1. The war between the states plays a part in lots of western movies (The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly)and western comics (Jonah Hex), and my favorite John Wayne movie is actually a civil war story! So this is a good story choice (especially in connection with the Ft Sumter anniversary); the fact that it features early art by one of my favorite comics artist (crude as it was compared to his later work) is just icing on the cake. Thanks.

  2. Today comicreadinglibrary.blogspot.com posts another entire issue of Charlton's Billy the Kid, complete with three stories drawn by the great John Severin.

  3. Anonymous: would that be "The Horse Soldiers" ?

    Also, thanks for the heads up on the Billy The Kid post!