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How Did Major Anderson help ignite the Civil War?

Discussion in 'Civil War History - General Discussion' started by Old_Glory, Apr 15, 2018.

  1. Old_Glory

    Old_Glory 2nd Lieutenant

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    Buchanan and his administration told Major Anderson to keep his backside in Fort Moultrie. Anderson decided he had better ideas like moving to Sumter. What could go wrong? Go ahead and throw him in their as well.

    The crux of Anderson's error came when he moved to Ft. Sumter and damaged Ft. Moultrie intentionally before he left. The guns were destroyed and the ammunition was set on fire which was visible throughout the city.

     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018

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  3. WJC

    WJC Moderator Moderator

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    Please provide the evidence you have that Major Anderson was ordered to stay in Fort Moultrie. Surely, as the on-scene commander, he had the latitude to choose which of two federal forts could best be defended.
     
  4. Old_Glory

    Old_Glory 2nd Lieutenant

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    Of additional note are these resources that have been posted before:


    Instructions from President Buchanan presented to Major Anderson at Fort Multrie:


    His Direct Orders:




    President Buchanan's reaction after hearing of Major Anderson's move to Ft. Sumter:

    John B Floyd Secretary of War reaction:

    Here is a South Carolina newspaper's account of the story

     
  5. O' Be Joyful

    O' Be Joyful Sergeant Major

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    From, Reminiscences of Forts Sumter and Moultrie by Abner Doubleday

    Chap. III PRELIMINARY MOVEMENTS OF THE SECESSIONISTS.

    http://www.pddoc.com/skedaddle/articles/sumter_and_moultrie-03.htm

    All bold is mine:

    On the 1st of December, Major Anderson made a full report to Secretary Floyd in relation to our condition and resources. It was accompanied with requisitions, in due form, for supplies and military material. Colonel Gardner, before he left, had already applied for rations for the entire command for six months.

    Previous to Lincoln's election, Governor Gist had stated that in that event the State would undoubtedly secede, and demand the forts, and that any hesitation or delay in giving them up would lead to an immediate assault. Active preparations were now in progress to carry out this threat. In the first week of December we learned that cannon had been secretly sent to the northern extremity of the island, to guard the channel and oppose the passage of any vessels bringing us re-enforcements by that entrance. We learned, too, that lines of countervallation had been quietly marked out at night, with a view to attack the fort by regular approaches in ease the first assault failed. Also, that two thousand of the best riflemen in the State were engaged to occupy an adjacent sand-hill and the roofs of the adjoining houses, all of which overlooked the parapet, the intention being to shoot us down the moment we attempted to man our guns. Yet the Administration made no arrangements to withdraw us, and no effort to re-enforce us, because to do the former would excite great indignation in the North, and the latter might be treated as coercion by the South. So we were left to our own scanty resources, with every probability that the affair would end in a massacre. Under these circumstances the appropriating of $150,000 to repair Fort Moultrie and $80,000 to finish Fort Sumter by the mere order of the Secretary of War, without the authority of Congress, was simply an expenditure of public money for the benefit of the Secessionists, and I have no doubt it was so intended. Forts constructed in an enemy's country, and left unguarded, are built for the enemy.
    (snip)

    To resume the thread of my narrative. The fort by this time had been considerably strengthened. The crevices were filled up, and the walls were made sixteen feet high, by digging down to the foundations and throwing up the surplus earth as a glacis. Each of the officers had a certain portion given him to defend. I caused a sloping picket fence, technically called a fraise, to be projected over the parapet on my side of the work, as an obstacle against an escalading party. I understood that this puzzled the military men and newspapers in Charleston exceedingly. They could not imagine what object I could have in view. One of the editors said, in reference to it, “Make ready your sharpened stakes, but you will not intimidate freemen.”

    There was one good reason why our opponents did not desire to commence immediate hostilities. The delay was manifestly to their advantage, for the engineers were putting Fort Sumter in good condition at the expense of the United States. They (the rebels) intended to occupy it as soon as the work approached completion. In the mean time, to prevent our anticipating them, they kept two steamers on guard, to patrol the harbor, and keep us from crossing. These boats contained one hundred and twenty soldiers, and were under the command of Ex-lieutenant James Hamilton, who had recently resigned from the United States Navy.

    The threatening movements against Fort Moultrie required incessant vigilance on our part, and we were frequently worn out with watching and fatigue. On one of these occasions Mrs. Seymour and Mrs. Doubleday volunteered to take the places of Captain Seymour and myself, and they took turns in walking the parapet, two hours at a time, in readiness to notify the guard in case the minute-men became more than usually demonstrative.
     
  6. Old_Glory

    Old_Glory 2nd Lieutenant

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    If that is Major Anderson's version of the story, it is grossly full of holes.

    He wasn't following orders already as he destroyed the cannons and the ammunition at Ft. Moultrie, so why would he then start following secret orders after going to Sumter? He already showed that he would act as he saw fit by moving to Ft. Sumter.
     
  7. O' Be Joyful

    O' Be Joyful Sergeant Major

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    I believe you are misreading the evidence to make it what you wish it to be.

    And I thought this thread and Anderson's orders that you presented above concerned Anderson's "unprovoked" (your insinuation) move from Moultrie?

    Edit: Would you point out the holes to me, please.
     
  8. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

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    Major Anderson was responsible for igniting the Civil War in the same sense that Abraham Lincoln was responsible for his own assassination by not staying home from the theater and hanging himself.
     
  9. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    This thread reminds me of a quote from Lincoln in his Cooper Union speech of February, 1860.

    "That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, "Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!"
     
  10. thomas aagaard

    thomas aagaard 2nd Lieutenant

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    He was holding an indefensible position and staying there risked a violent confrontation that could have resulted in both dead soldiers and dead civilians.

    At other federal facilities soldiers had already fired warning shots at civilian.

    By moving his men out of there, he made sure that the situation would not be escalated by mistake, by angry civilian trying to enter the fort. (and gave the politicians more control of the situation)

    And when he didn't have the ability to move all federal property and especially weapons and military supplies he did his duty and made sure they could not be sued by a hostile force.

    In short he did his duty.

    Just because the modern day US military expect unthinking obedience over using your own mind, don't mean that was the case back then.
    Orders and letters could take weeks to get delivered, so it was expected that commanders used their heads when the situation changed.

    And btw, the orders from the president is very badly written and both give him specific ordered and then countermand them in the next part. And it do include allowing him to place his men in what ever fort He think gives him the best ability to resist. And he did so.

    And his specific orders where:
    "You are to exercise a sound military discretion on this subject."
    and he did.

    Even the part you made Bold tell him to use his own judgement. And correctly judged that they could take a bombardment without loss of life. And when he judged they could do so no more, he surrendered as his orders allowed him to.

    You are showing very well hos he did exactly as he was ordered to do.
    ----

    And considering that John B Floyd joined the south, he is hardly trustworthy.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018
  11. Ole Miss

    Ole Miss Sergeant

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    Sir: It is evident now from the action of Commander of Fort Moultrie, that the solemn of the Government have been violated by Anderson. In my judgment but one remedy now left us by which to vindicate our honor and prevent civil war. It is in vain now to hope confidence on the part of the people of South Carolina in any further pledges as to the action of military. One remedy is left, and that is to withdraw the garrison from the harbor of Charleston. I hope the President will allow me to make order at once. This order, in my judgment, can alone prevent bloodshed and civil war. Signed John B Floyd Secretary of War”

    Having John B. Floyd commenting on "honor" is the height of absurdity, let alone castigating such a man as Robert Anderson. His recommendation to leave foreshadowed his behavior at Fort Donelson in February of 1862 where he showed his sense of honor. Integrity was a foreign word to Floyd.
    Regards
    David
     
  12. O' Be Joyful

    O' Be Joyful Sergeant Major

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    In support of your post, more from Abner Doubleday, Chap. IV concerning the "honorable" Mr. Floyd.

    A circumstance now occurred which to my mind was proof positive that Floyd intended to betray us and the Government he represented. I have no doubt it hastened our departure from Fort Moultrie. He directed Captain Foster to have the guns mounted in Fort Sumter immediately. It was plain enough, from demonstrations already made, that the moment this was done the rebels would seize the fort, and turn its powerful armament upon us. There was no one there to resist them. It seems to me that Floyd’s speech to the Secessionists of Richmond, made shortly after his flight from Washington, was a pretty plain acknowledgment that he had violated his oath of office as Secretary of War, in order that he might advance the interests of the Confederacy. He said on that occasion, “I undertook so to dispose of the power in my hands that when the terrific hour came, you, and all of you, and each of you, should say, ‘This man has done his duty.’”

    http://www.pddoc.com/skedaddle/articles/sumter_and_moultrie-04.htm
     
  13. Old_Glory

    Old_Glory 2nd Lieutenant

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    For the record, he was a Major General in the Union North Army. He deserves an opinion, but taken with a grain of salt considering the circumstances. There are many accounts of Confederates who felt there were a great many traitors to the country in the Union North.
     
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  14. Old_Glory

    Old_Glory 2nd Lieutenant

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    His evidence was not impressive to me. Just hearsay and guessing. He was sitting on a powder keg holding a torch. He was told not to do anything for a very good reason.
     
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  15. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    No different. What Anderson did at Fort Moultrie is irrelevant.
     
  16. O' Be Joyful

    O' Be Joyful Sergeant Major

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    And you do not believe that the fact that his liberal, let us say, orders from Floyd who later in Richmond proudly proclaimed that, “I undertook so to dispose of the power in my hands that when the terrific hour came, you, and all of you, and each of you, should say, ‘This man has done his duty.’”, had nothing at all with how those orders were worded? Is that one of the holes?
     
  17. Ole Miss

    Ole Miss Sergeant

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    Abner Doubleday was a man of integrity who bled the I Corps at Gettysburg to hold out long enough for Howard to form the defense on Cemetery Ridge. He assuredly was a better man than Floyd and Buchanan both!
    Regards
    David
     
  18. Old_Glory

    Old_Glory 2nd Lieutenant

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    Major Anderson knew that he was sitting on the most important fort in the harbor and could literally close the harbor down along with destroying critical property in the city.

    He states he would only do so in self defense, but that was his claim when he left Ft. Moultrie without being attacked.
     
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  19. unionblue

    unionblue Brev. Brig. Gen'l Member of the Year

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    So, in your opinion, Anderson moved from Ft. Moultrie to Ft. Sumter in a political vacuum, that there was absolutely no reason, no danger to his men or position, in order to move his command to Ft. Sumter?

    Really?
     
  20. Old_Glory

    Old_Glory 2nd Lieutenant

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    It was far more dangerous to move to Ft. Sumter and set the fort ablaze while leaving. Would you disagree?
     
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  21. O' Be Joyful

    O' Be Joyful Sergeant Major

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    http://www.pddoc.com/skedaddle/articles/sumter_and_moultrie-04.htm

    Anderson had been urged by several of us to remove his command to Fort Sumter, but he had invariably replied that he was specially assigned to Fort Moultrie, and had no right to vacate it without orders. Our affairs, however, were becoming critical, and I thought it my duty to speak to him again on the subject. He still apparently adhered to his decision. Nevertheless, he had fully determined to make the change, and was now merely awaiting a favorable opportunity. To deceive the enemy, he still kept at work with unabated zeal on the defenses of Fort Moultrie. This exactly suited the purposes of the rebel leaders, for they knew we could make no effectual defense there, and our preparations would only increase the prestige of their victory. We were not authorized to commence hostilities by burning the adjacent houses, and yet, if they were not leveled, clouds of riflemen could occupy them, and prevent our men from serving the guns. Under any circumstances, it was plain that we must soon succumb from over-exertion and loss of sleep incident to repelling incessant attacks from a host of enemies. The fact that through the provident care of the Secretary of War the guns of Fort Sumter would also be turned upon us, enfilading two sides of Fort Moultrie, and taking another side in reverse, was quite decisive as to the impossibility of our making a lengthened defense.

    Up to this time we had hoped, almost against hope, that, even if the Government were base enough to desert us, the loyal spirit of the patriotic North would manifest itself in our favor, inasmuch as our little force represented the supremacy of the Constitution and the laws; but all seemed doubt, apathy, and confusion there. Yancey was delivering lectures in the Northern States, as a representative of the Disunionists, not only without molestation, but with frequent and vociferous applause from the Democratic masses, who could not be made to believe there was any real danger.

    In making his arrangements to cross over, Anderson acted with consummate prudence and ability. He only communicated his design to the staff-officers whose co-operation was indispensable, and he waited until the moment of execution before he informed the others of his intention. No one, of course, would deliberately betray a secret of this kind, but it sometimes happens, under such circumstances, that officers give indications of what is about to take place by sending for their washing, packing their trunks, and making changes in their messing arrangements.​

    Without knowing positively that any movement had been projected, two circumstances excited my suspicions. Once, while I was walking with the major on the parapet, he turned to me abruptly, and asked me what would be the best course to take to render the gun-carriages unserviceable. I told him there were several methods, but my plan would be to heap pitch-pine knots around them, and burn them up. The question was too suggestive to escape my attention.​

    On the day previous to our departure, I requested him to allow me to purchase a large quantity of wire, to make an entanglement in front of the part of the work I was assigned to defend. He said, with a quizzical look, “Certainly; you shall have a mile of wire, if you require it.” When I proposed to send for it immediately, he smiled, and objected in such a peculiar way that I at once saw that he was no longer interested in our efforts to strengthen Fort Moultrie.​
     

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