From The Constitution, April 17, 1861 (volume 24, number 1216)

THE WAR HAS COMMENCED

The war has now commenced in earnest.  The first gun has been fired by the secessionists, on whom the whole responsibility of the conflict must rest.  Notwithstanding the forbearance of the National Government under repeated insults and wrongs and its refusal to take any aggressive steps, the secession rebels have steadily advanced in their purposes until now, when they have commenced the tragedy of civil war.  They have suffered no injury from the Government, and they certainly can have suffered nothing from the Administration which has been in office but six weeks.  Without provocation, without the least show of reason, they have assaulted the National Government, and are now endeavoring to break up the American Union.

The issue now before the people of the United States is simply this : SHALL THE GOVERNMENT BE SUSTAINED, OR SHALL IT BE OVERTHROWN ?  There is no other issue in this war.  Party questions are for the present forgotten.  No one should be known as a republican or a democrat in this contest.  The question for every man is: —Are you for the Government, or are you against it?  Let every patriot rally under the stars and stripes—the flag of his country—a flag which has never been disgraced, and which, under the guardianship of the AMERICAN PEOPLE, never will.

THE SURRENDER OF FORT SUMTER

We publish the accounts of the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter as they have come over the wires.  As the means of communication with Charleston are wholly in the hands of the rebels, it is probable that they are not in all respects correct, but the principal facts are generally regarded such as reported.  Fort Sumter has fallen after a brave defence by Major Anderson.  The fleet did not enter the harbor, or offer any relief or assistance.  This looks a little singular ; but it is supposed by those capable of judging in such matters that events have happened in Charleston harbor very much as was expected by the Government.  By a masterly policy, Major Anderson, with only seventy five men, has attracted and concentrated around himself almost the whole military force of the southern confederacy, and has thus given time to the Government to strengthen itself and make its preparations for future operations.  No sooner is the Sumter question settled for the present, then the Charlestonians find their harbor blockaded, Fort Pickens reinforced, and a powerful fleet in southern waters !  Public attention will now be directed to Pensacola Bay, and the operations around Fort Pickens.

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Washington, March 14

Stirring news is expected every moment from Charleston, and after that from Pensacola and Texas.

Washington city was quiet all night, notwithstanding the military excitement of Wednesday.

Sherman’s U. S. artillery, from Fort Ridgeley, ordered to Newport but countermanded, and two companies of cavalry, are expected here to-day, without horses, which will be purchased here.

Lieut. Talbot and Mr. Chew, back from Charleston, report to headquarters that access to Fort Sumter was denied, and that the ultimatum of this government, regarding provisioning Major Anderson, was laid before Gov. Pickens.

According to rumor, Jefferson Davis is considering the propriety of going to Charleston, now that Fort Sumter will be the great strategic point where the issue was to be tried as to the power of the Confederate States.

The President gives up all expectations of peace now, though yesterday expressing a hope that the unarmed vessel would not be fired upon.

The Vincennes, at Boston, is ordered to be got ready for the coast of Africa, and the Jamestown, at Philadelphia, for the coast of Brazil.

It is proposed, on account of the scarcity of Junior Lieutenants in the naval service, available for sea duty, to graduate immediately the senior class at the Naval Academy, and order them to vessels now going into commission.

How the News Was Received Here

The utmost excitement attended the reception of the news here [i.e., Middletown].  The feeling was intense—crowds filled the streets on Saturday and Sunday, besieging the telegraph office and every place where news might be obtained.  Denunciations of the southern traitors were loud and earnest, and very few expressed any sympathy with secession.  The almost universal sentiment was that the Government must be sustained.

Measures have already been taken for the enrollment of volunteers.  The Mansfield Guard, which is one of the most efficient and best drilled companies in the State, raised the U. States flag on Monday morning over their armory, and gave it three cheers.  This company is now filling up its ranks with a view to public service, and the Armory is open for drill during the evening.

The Artillery company displayed the national flag, and is also enrolling new members and preparing for effective service whenever duty shall call.

The American flag was displayed from the republican flag-staff, where it waved proudly in the breeze.  Other flags are flying throughout the city, among the most prominent of which is one from the flag-staff on the College grounds, and another on the premises of the newly-elected Lieut. Governor [Benjamin Douglas].

Middletown will be found true to the Union and the Government.

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One of our most prominent citizens, who has heretofore had no sympathy with the republican party, said yesterday, as he pointed to the stars and stripes floating from the tall flag-staff in Main street—“that is my flag, the national flag—no party about that—every patriot will rally under it.”

Trade Between This City and Charleston

There has just arrived here from Charleston, a schooner with lumber for one of our enterprising business firms.  We are not informed as to whether she carries the Palmetto flag.