LATE, LATER, LATEST, AND HIGHLY IMPORTANT FROM CHARLESTON - OUR SPECIAL DISPATCHES BY THE UNDERGROUND LINE.
[Editorial Note: The interval between Lincoln's election in November 1860 and his inauguration in March 1861 was filled with rumors of first one state and then another deciding on, or against, secession. The invention of the telegraph meant that these rumors appeared in Northern newspapers, often in the sequence in which they were received, almost as rapidly as they swept through the South. The "underground line" referred both to the telegraph and also to the "underground railway," as those who helped fugitive slaves escape termed their efforts. Many in the North were convinced that the "fire-eaters" in the Southern states were bluffing and that the proper policy was to "call" the bluff. This piece made fun of the credulity of those in the North, such as the abolitionists, who both called for an immediate end to slavery and believed the South would secede. How better to mock the dangers they foresaw than to picture Southern women and children in arms?]
Charleston, Supper-time, February 20th. --All the babies in the entire South are in arms, and many in this city are now employed at the breastworks.
Two and one half Minutes Later. --Hundreds of the noblest women of South Carolina are behind the breastworks, and they boldly express their determination to remain there.
Later Still--Three Quarters of a Minute. --A number of young ladies were in arms during the greater part of last evening, and many more are extremely anxious to follow the self-sacrificing example of their sisters. Shame on the young men!
One Quarter of a Minute Later. --We have learned from a reliable source that the study of military tactics will be introduced into the female schools of this State immediately, as the spirited girls declare their willingness to take charge of South Carolina 'Infantry,' which is to be raised.
A report from the interior says the negroes wear drilling, but it needs confirmation.
Still Later --Everybody is in a blaze of enthusiasm, and the gas company has suspended in consequence.