Newbie, novice, rookie Lincoln beats 35 year Veteran Davis like a rug at Fort Sumter mind games.

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jgoodguy

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The provocation of dispatching warships to the harbor. An act the General In Chief and Secretary of State warned against.
Robert Anderson, commanding Fort Sumter, knew what it meant. So did Jefferson Davis. It seems like Abraham Lincoln was the only man who did not think dispatching warships to Charleston Harbor was in any way provocative.

We shall strive to do our duty, though I frankly say that my heart is not in this war, which, I see, is to be thus commenced. - Robert Anderson, April 8, 1861​
Lincoln certainly needed Davis to initiate the war, though, to garner support. A calculated move.
Very calculated. There is no way that Lincoln was in any way so naive as to think sending these ships would not be provocative. Everyone else could see it, and of course, so could he.
I don't fully agree.

I mean clearly it was a risk, a possibility. The last ships sent had been fired upon lol, so clearly the South was prepared to initiate aggression. So I think he was prepared for that possibility, even one that might spin towards his own benefit... though I think it's too dangerous to look back at events that resulted in an outcome and predict everyone had to have known it would happen that one way.

I think it could have just as likely happened differently, the South could've not chosen to preemptively attack and just watch closely prepared to attack and the orders would've likely just have happened as instructed and only subsistence provided and the goal post moved to a later date.

I mean we can now have the other benefit of hindsight and see that the orders given were consistent with Lincoln's message, that no aggression or military reinforcement or resupplying would be done unless the subsistence was prevented. So I think it's quite likely things could have gone a completely different way.

With that said I think Davis and the Confederacy made a calculated choice, that this was a key moment to prove to the World they were a fighting force prepared to use violence and aggression to maintain their newly found Nation. Letting this opportunity slip by was possibly too much of a risk.

I mean the result was Lincoln calling for troops (pretty predictable when you fire dozens of canon balls at someone in a fort lol) and that forced places like Virginia to finally make a call and side with the Confederacy. All you have to do is read Gov. Pickens message to the Virginia Secession Convention to get that spin even before Lincoln called for troops. Basically we have started this war so come on over.

http://secession.richmond.edu/docum...31&order=date&direction=ascending&id=pb.3.740
----
Received your despatch. It is true that Fort Sumter was bombarded all day yesterday, after refusing to evacuate, and four vessels were off the bar with troops and supplies waiting for the tide to come in, and the Fort was in signal with them.

President Lincoln sent a special messenger, and informed me in writing that supplies would be put in, but asked no reply. Not a man at our batteries was hurt even. The Fort was furious in its fire on us. Our iron battery did great damage to the Fort in the south wall. Our shells fall freely in the Fort; it is not known exactly with what effect, but supposed to be serious, as they are not firing this morning. Our Enfield battery dismounted three of the large Columbiads. We will take the Fort and can keep sixteen ten-inch mortars all the time on it, besides heavy guns which will give no peace, night or day. We can sink the fleet if they attempt to enter the channel. If they land elsewhere we can whip them. I have here, now, nearly seven thousand of the best troops in the world, and a reserve of ten thousand on our railroads. The war is commenced, and we will triumph or perish. This is my answer to you. Please let me know what Virginia will do, as I telegraph to you candidly. F. W. PICKENS.

----


Both sides were making calculated choices. I honestly think Lincoln probably thought his action would be somewhat more likely to not lead to what happened and I think the way the Confederacy played it may look bad in hindsight but actually benefitted them far more. I think their attack was the ideal counter to Lincoln making a peaceful play. If they didn't get Virginia in what chance would the Confederacy really have.
 
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jgoodguy

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Seriously most the way we look at Sumter is looking back. Looking forward from both leader's perspective Lincoln is by for the least experienced, he takes the strategy of cautious assertion of sovereignty. Davis by comparison was much more experienced, but since the Mexican war, has been involved in administrative and political roles. He is also more self assured. Less cautious Davis orders the attack. Not knowing the future his reasons are reasonable and rational, but even in the time and place not optimum.

Lincoln gets lucky and the North unites behind him. It could have gone another way with the Union disunited and the South having the initiative Davis goes to victory.
 
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civilken

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now now getting a little sarcastic are we. I love it nothing like a catchy title to bring them in. If you're like me and you believe Lincoln was one of our best presidents you have a title even Lincoln would appreciate if not cut out the newspaper and put in his pocket. Just to take it out and smile. Of course if your southern you'll be saying there they go again taking on my heritage. Anyhow thanks for the smile I received reading such a provocative title from a serious historian.
 

jackt62

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New York City
I give Lincoln more credit for shrewdness. He was a canny political operator, despite his homespun folksy image that we all seem to have of the man. But Lincoln had to find a way to ensure that the Union did not fire the first shot in order that it appear that the federal goverment was simply responding to an aggressive act by the confederacy. So Lincoln outmaneuvered Davis in the Ft. Sumter affair politically and militarily.
 

MattL

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Location
SF Bay Area
I think it all depends on how you look at it. For example

Scenarios

1)
Goals

Lincoln: Start the war without first attacking, to gain the moral upper ground, maybe in hopes that it would sway people to the Union's side.

A lesser version might be Lincoln believing the war was inevitable based off the Confederacy's direction, so figured he'd maximin the above scenario whether or not he wanted to start the war.

Basically keep pressure on in a way that gives him the higher moral ground. For Davis's hand.

Davis: Only react and instigate the war if necessary, keep the higher moral ground.

Results
Success for Lincoln if you look at it this way, Lincoln outwitted Davis quite a bit. Basically Lincoln outplayed Davis in this scenario.


2)
Goals

Lincoln:
Primarily pursue a peaceful action with a peaceful result while preparing for the worst case scenarios of aggression. Believing that given more time the Confederacy will lose steam, the longer they waited the less likely the other States might secede, Virginia in particular being key. Maybe given a fully peaceful option Davis wouldn't jump to aggression and hence there might be no aggression and without aggression the Confederacy might lose it's momentum.

Davis: Take the first opportunity to initiate aggression in a way that might allow you to keep the higher ground, believing that it was clear at that point the Confederacy would not succeed unless taken seriously.

And/or forcing Lincoln's hand by direction aggressing so he must respond and subsequently states like Virginia must then decide, betting they'll stick with the South.

And/or not lose momentum by Lincoln hedging with passive aggressive peaceful options like subsistence resupplies of Fort Sumter.

Results
Lincoln got played by Davis. In this scenario Davis secured 4 States, most importantly Virginia.




I'm sure there are many more, but these are my current thoughts on the two brought generalizations of this event and Lincoln vs Davis. The more I read and study the more I'm inclined to believe 2. More accurately I believe 2 might have been the goal for at least key individuals involved with Confederacy (realizing that not everyone on either side was on the same page), to redundantly quote Pickens again (I'm nothing if not redundant) I get a bit of the impression. That their attack on Fort Sumter was a really good pitch to Virginia even before Lincoln called for troops. In this case Lincoln's call for troops was the cherry on top.


http://secession.richmond.edu/docum...31&order=date&direction=ascending&id=pb.3.740
----
Received your despatch. It is true that Fort Sumter was bombarded all day yesterday, after refusing to evacuate, and four vessels were off the bar with troops and supplies waiting for the tide to come in, and the Fort was in signal with them.

President Lincoln sent a special messenger, and informed me in writing that supplies would be put in, but asked no reply. Not a man at our batteries was hurt even. The Fort was furious in its fire on us. Our iron battery did great damage to the Fort in the south wall. Our shells fall freely in the Fort; it is not known exactly with what effect, but supposed to be serious, as they are not firing this morning. Our Enfield battery dismounted three of the large Columbiads. We will take the Fort and can keep sixteen ten-inch mortars all the time on it, besides heavy guns which will give no peace, night or day. We can sink the fleet if they attempt to enter the channel. If they land elsewhere we can whip them. I have here, now, nearly seven thousand of the best troops in the world, and a reserve of ten thousand on our railroads. The war is commenced, and we will triumph or perish. This is my answer to you. Please let me know what Virginia will do, as I telegraph to you candidly. F. W. PICKENS.

----
 
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Don Dixon

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If Lincoln gave up Fort Sumter it was an admission that secession had legitimacy, and that the Federal government was no longer sovereign in the South. For Davis to permit the continued occupation of Fort Sumter by a Federal Army garrison was an admission that the South did not have the sovereignty it claimed. The situation was untenable for both sides for any significant period of time. T. Harry Williams, my major professor in my graduate program at Louisiana State University, noted that Lincoln's decision to resupply Fort Sumter had been controversial, and that some, particularly in the South, held that he had manipulated the begining of the war. He then said:

"It is the obligation of every President of the United States to ensure that the enemy fires the first shot."

Regards,
Don Dixon
 

archieclement

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Location
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And the prize for "beating/outplaying/winning" the mind games was 620,000 dead and a assassins bullet
Consolation prize was living to 81 on beachfront property in Biloxi......................
 
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19thGeorgia

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Rookie Lincoln and the blockade...

James Lorimer, Studies National and International, 42-43:

...the blockade, it seems, was a mistake;
I do not mean a mistake of policy, but a mistake of ignorance and want of thought. "When the war broke out," says Mr. Thaddeus Stevens, the venerable President of the Chamber of Representatives, "my opinion was that it ought to be treated as a simple rebellion, and that all those who took part in it ought to be considered as traitors against the Government of the United States. It was thus that Congress understood it; and I supposed that Mr. Lincoln and his Cabinet understood it in the same way. After the termination of the first session of Congress which took place under Mr. Lincoln's presidency, and very shortly after my return home, I read, to my great surprise, a proclamation, declaring the blockade of the rebel ports. It was a gross mistake, and an absurdity. If the rebel states were still part of the Union, and only in revolt against the Government, we were establishing a blockade against ourselves; we were blockading the ports of the United States. I immediately attributed the affair to the incomprehensible policy of Mr. Seward, and set off for Washington to see the President, Lincoln, and speak to him on the subject. I explained to him my view of the matter. I said to him that the blockade annihilated the position originally taken up by the Government with reference to the rebel States; that the ports, in place of being blockaded, ought to have been shut; and that all that was requisite was to have armed a sufficient number of the vessels of the coastguard to prevent contraband. I explained to him that by the mere fact of the blockade we recognised in the rebel States the character of independent belligerents, and that we should henceforth be forced to conduct the war not as if we were extinguishing a revolt, but with all the formalities of international law.

"' You are quite right,' Mr. Lincoln said, after hearing me out, 'I see the distinction now. But I knew nothing about international law, and I thought we were quite en regle [in order].'

"' As an advocate, Mr. Lincoln,' I said to him, 'I should have expected the difficulty at once to present itself to your mind.'

"' The reason, don't you see,' replied Mr. Lincoln, 'is this. I was a pretty fair advocate in one of our Western Courts; but we have very little international law down there. I thought Seward had been up to all that sort of thing, so I let him have his way. It's done now, and we can't help it. We must make the best we can of it.'

"In that Mr. Lincoln was right. The mistake was made, and the rebel States from that time were an independent belligerent, —I don't say, mind you, an independent nation,—but certainly an independent belligerent, whom it was necessary to treat according to the rules of international law."
 
Rookie Lincoln and the blockade...

James Lorimer, Studies National and International, 42-43:

...the blockade, it seems, was a mistake;
I do not mean a mistake of policy, but a mistake of ignorance and want of thought. "When the war broke out," says Mr. Thaddeus Stevens, the venerable President of the Chamber of Representatives, "my opinion was that it ought to be treated as a simple rebellion, and that all those who took part in it ought to be considered as traitors against the Government of the United States. It was thus that Congress understood it; and I supposed that Mr. Lincoln and his Cabinet understood it in the same way. After the termination of the first session of Congress which took place under Mr. Lincoln's presidency, and very shortly after my return home, I read, to my great surprise, a proclamation, declaring the blockade of the rebel ports. It was a gross mistake, and an absurdity. If the rebel states were still part of the Union, and only in revolt against the Government, we were establishing a blockade against ourselves; we were blockading the ports of the United States. I immediately attributed the affair to the incomprehensible policy of Mr. Seward, and set off for Washington to see the President, Lincoln, and speak to him on the subject. I explained to him my view of the matter. I said to him that the blockade annihilated the position originally taken up by the Government with reference to the rebel States; that the ports, in place of being blockaded, ought to have been shut; and that all that was requisite was to have armed a sufficient number of the vessels of the coastguard to prevent contraband. I explained to him that by the mere fact of the blockade we recognised in the rebel States the character of independent belligerents, and that we should henceforth be forced to conduct the war not as if we were extinguishing a revolt, but with all the formalities of international law.

"' You are quite right,' Mr. Lincoln said, after hearing me out, 'I see the distinction now. But I knew nothing about international law, and I thought we were quite en regle [in order].'

"' As an advocate, Mr. Lincoln,' I said to him, 'I should have expected the difficulty at once to present itself to your mind.'

"' The reason, don't you see,' replied Mr. Lincoln, 'is this. I was a pretty fair advocate in one of our Western Courts; but we have very little international law down there. I thought Seward had been up to all that sort of thing, so I let him have his way. It's done now, and we can't help it. We must make the best we can of it.'

"In that Mr. Lincoln was right. The mistake was made, and the rebel States from that time were an independent belligerent, —I don't say, mind you, an independent nation,—but certainly an independent belligerent, whom it was necessary to treat according to the rules of international law."
Yep, Lincoln screwed up on that one and readily admitted it. This is well known to those who study Lincoln.
 

John Hartwell

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Lincoln got played by Davis. In this scenario Davis secured 4 States, most importantly Virginia. ----
Davis got 4 states, perhaps, but Lincoln got all the others -- firmly in opposition to secession. Davis' "success" in "playing" Lincoln, it seems, only sealed the Confederacy's ultimate failure.
 
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MattL

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Davis got 4 states, perhaps, but Lincoln got all the others -- firmly in opposition to secession. Davis' "success" in "playing" Lincoln, it seems, only sealed the Confederacy's ultimate failure.
Maybe, but those were basically 4 States that were better for Lincoln until they were secured for the Confederacy. A non-convert, even a neutral State is far more a win for the Union than the Confederacy.

Can one even imagine the chances the Confederacy would've had without Virginia for example? Forcing them to finally decide alone (and that Pickens message really drives home the attempt) might have been worth it. Without Fort Sumter and Lincoln's call for troops from them it's not clear at all Virginia would've joined the Confederacy. They firmly sat in the lets wait it out and see what happens camp.
 

unionblue

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And the prize for "beating/outplaying/winning" the mind games was 620,000 dead and a assassins bullet
Consolation prize was living to 81 on beachfront property in Biloxi......................
Plus 4 million freed and a united country.

Hell of a price to pay for attempting to keep those 4 million in eternal bondage.

And those who did are the one's I would send the butcher's bill to.
 

Lost Cause

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Joined
Sep 19, 2014
Davis got 4 states, perhaps, but Lincoln got all the others -- firmly in opposition to secession. Davis' "success" in "playing" Lincoln, it seems, only sealed the Confederacy's ultimate failure.
Quite a stretch to say MO, KY, MD, and DE were firmly in opposition to secession.
 
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archieclement

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Plus 4 million freed and a united country.

Hell of a price to pay for attempting to keep those 4 million in eternal bondage.

And those who did are the one's I would send the butcher's bill to.
Odd most the civilized world practiced slavery, yet most the civilized world managed to end it without civil war causing dissention and racism that lasted well over another 100 years.......Only we didn't........

I tend to think the of the events that lead up to the start of civil war as not having any real winners on either side.................You may consider the bloodiest war in our history as success, I consider it more a monumental failure since the rest of the world demonstrated abolition could occur peaceably without war..............Not assigning blame to one side, failure to compromise is a failure of both sides.............
 
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