ALS DAS LAND RIEF (DER ERSTE RUF/FORT SUMTER IST GEFALLEN)
(ALBERT WOLFF) (1861)
Tune: "Mein Gmüth ist mir verwirret" (Hans Leo Haßler) (1613)

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This German-American song recalls the fall of Fort Sumter, Charleston, SC, in April 1861.

With everyone a traitor, German-Americans are asked to stand for the Union. Their old fatherland across the ocean has exiled freedom-loving Germans who have found a "friendly new home" in the "land of the free." Therefore, as a gesture of thanks, German-Americans are asked answer the country's signal for help and to remain true to the Union when everyone else becomes untrue.

The tune used for this song is one by German composer Hans Leo Haßler (1584-1612) and first appeared as "Mein Gmüth ist mir verwirret" in "Venusgärtlein," Nuremberg, 1613. It was later used for the well-known hymn "O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden."

Manfred Helfert

President Lincoln had vowed to "hold, occupy, and possess" federal property, and Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor became a symbol of the North's determination. If Major Robert Anderson and his small force were to surrender Sumter, the North would be in effect recognizing the Confederacy and the disunion it had been denying.

But Anderson was short of food, and Lincoln had to decide whether to precipitate a crisis by provisioning the fort. He refused to be stampeded into a hasty decision -- not by a Cabinet that advised against sending supllies nor by a Secretary of State who proposed a foreign war to reunite the nation. Lincoln hoped to arrange an eventual withdrawal from Sumter that would keep Virginia in the Union ("A State for a fort is no bad business"), but he received bo promises from Richmond. And because Secretary Seward, acting on his own, had advised the Confederacy of Sumter's imminent evacuation, the South regarded Lincoln's ultimate decision to provision the fort as a broken promise.

On April 11 [1861], Anderson refused a demand that he surrender, saying that he would do so only when -- and if -- food ran out. He was then told that shore batteries would open fire. Early the next morning they did, and the Civil War began. The fort surrendered on the 13th, so festive Charlestonians watched the bombardment. None seemed to recall Andrew Jackson's warning issued during the Nullification Crisis of 1832: "Disunion by armed force is treason. Are you really ready to incur its guilt?"

The American Heritage Book of the Presidents and Famous Americans, Vol. 5, New York, NY, 1967, p. 429.

Fort Sumter ist gefallen
In der Rebellen Hand,
Sein Notsignal ertönen
Läßt das bedrängte Land.
Entfaltet hat sein Banner
Der schändlichste Verrat
Wer wird zum Lande stehen
Mit todesmuth'ger Tat?

Wenn alle untreu werden,
So bleiben treu doch wir,
Uns rufet nicht vergebens
Das Unionspanier.
Die stolzeste der Vesten
Auf freiem Boden steht,
Noch auf der Veste Zinnen
Das Sternenbanner weht!

Wenn alle untreu werden
Dem Land und seinem Recht,
Wenn gegen seine Einheit
Anstürmt ein falsch Geschlecht,
Und wenn dem Land der Freien
Verrath und Meuterei
Von seinen Söhnen drohen,
So bleiben wir doch treu.

Jenseits des Ozeanes
Das alte Vaterland,
Hat, ob wir sehr es liebten,
Feindselig uns verbannt.
Das neue Land gab freundlich
Uns eine Heimat neu;
Dafür in seinen Nöthen
Dank ihm jetzt - deutsche Treu'.

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