April 12, 1861
The Civil War wasn’t universally supported in Maine, largely because much of the state’s shipping industry depended on southern ports and particularly southern cotton for business. Maine ships commonly traveled south loaded with Maine-made salt fish, bricks, lumber, hay, and other commodities, and sold them in southern ports for loads of cotton bound for the factories of England.
So it should be no surprise that a Maine ship, the Samuel Tarbox, was the last northern vessel to escape from Charleston, South Carolina, as the war began. Her captain, Andrew Tarbox, of Bath, and the ship’s crew witnessed the initial bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, that opened the Civil War.
Tarbox, captain of the bark Samuel Tarbox, had just loaded a cargo of highly valuable Sea Island cotton when word came that the Union citadel was about to be attacked.
As he sailed his ship out of the harbor, the first cannon fired on the fort. Tarbox saw the flag of the United States hauled down the customhouse flagpole, to be replaced by the palmetto flag of South Carolina.
The Samuel Tarbox delivered its cargo safely to Liverpool, England. Andrew Tarbox would go on to become a leading and influential citizen of Woolwich and Bath. He died in 1889 at the age of 81.