Proposed Invasion of Charleston harbor by the North

wilber6150

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#1
Theres been a lot of talk about how the re-supply expedition to Sumter was actually an invasion force, so I thought I'd post the letter from Winfield Scott, the US army commander , to Lincoln in which he discusses this topic..


Fort Sumter.
The President has done me the honor to address to me certain professional questions, to which he desires answers. I proceed with them categorically.

"1. To what point of time can Major Anderson maintain his position, at Fort Sumter, without fresh supplies or reinforcements?"

Answer. In respect to subsistence, for the garrison, he has hard bread, flour & rice for about 26 days, & salt meat (pork) for about 48 days; but how long he could hold out against the whole means of attack which the South Carolinians have in, & about the city of Charleston & its Harbour, is a question that cannot be answered with absolute accuracy. Reckoning the batteries troops at 3,500 (now somewhat disciplined) & the batteries at 4 powerful land, & at least one floating -- all mounting guns & mortars of large calibre, & of the best patterns; -- & supposing those means to be skillfully & vigorously employed -- Fort Sumter with its less than 100 men -- including common laborers & musicians -- ought to be taken by a single assault, & easily; if harrassed perseveringly for several previous days & nights by threats & false attacks, with the ability -- from the force of overwhelming numbers -- of converting one out of every three or four of those, into a real attack.

"2. Can you with all the means now in your control, supply or reinforce Fort Sumter within that time?"

Answer. No: Not within many months. See answer to No. 3.

"3. If not, what amount of means, & of what description, in addition to that already at your control, would enable you to supply & reinforce that fortress within the time?"

Answer. A fleet of war vessels & transports, 5,000 additional regular troops & 20,000 volunteers, in order to take all the batteries in the Harbor of Charleston (including Ft. Moultrie) after the capture of all the batteries in the approach or outer Bay. And to raise, organize & discipline such an army, would require new acts of Congress & from six to eight months.

Respectfully submitted.

Winfield Scott.

Head Qrs. of the Army,

Washington, Mar. 11, 1861.
http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/?q=node/25261

So somehow I don't think the force sent to re-supply Sumter in Dec or April comes anywhere near to meeting the requirements that the President was advised that he needed to hold the fort...
 

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wilber6150

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#2
What follows is the letter that Lincoln sent to Scott which prompted the above post...

Lieutenant General Scott: Executive Mansion, March 9, 1861.

My dear Sir: On the 5th inst. I received from the Hon. Joseph Holt, the then faithful and vigilant Secretary of War, a letter of that date, inclosing a letter and accompanying documents received by him on the 4th inst. from Major Robert Anderson commanding at Fort Sumpter [Sumter] South Carolina; and copies of all which I now transmit. Immediately on the receipt of them by me, I transmitted the whole to you for your consideration; and the same day you returned the package to me with your opinion endorsed upon it, a copy of which opinion I now also transmit to you. Learning from you verbally that since then you have given the subject a more full and thorough consideration, you will much oblige me by giving answers, in writing, to the following interrogatories:

1st To what point of time can Major Anderson maintain his position at Fort Sumpter [Sumter], without fresh supplies or reinforcement?

2d. Can you, with all the means now in your control, supply or re-inforce Fort Sumpter [Sumter] within that time?

3d If not, what amount of means and of what description, in addition to that already at your control, would enable you to supply and reinforce that fortress within the time?

Please answer these, adding such statements, information, and counsel as your great skill and experience may suggest. Your obedient Servant A. LINCOLN.
http://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/25262
 

Freddy

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#3
Southerners believed that any Federal presence in the new CSA was an invasion of its territory. Rightly or wrongly that is what they believed. History and SCOTUS has proved their belief to be wrong but that will not stop the Neo Confederates from rallying behind it almost a century and a half later.
 

wilber6150

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#4
Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois.

Gideon Welles to Abraham Lincoln, Friday, March 15, 1861 (Report on Fort Sumter)

From Gideon Welles to Abraham Lincoln, March 15, 1861
Navy Department
15" March 1861
Sir:
In answer to your enquiry of this date, I take it for granted that Fort Sumter cannot be provisioned except by force, and assuming that it is possible to be done by force, is it wise to make the attempt?

The question has two aspects, one military, the other political. The military gentlemen who have been consulted, as well as the officers at the Fort, represent that it would be unwise to attempt to succor the garrison under existing circumstances, and I am not disposed to controvert their opinions.
But a plan has been submitted by a gentleman of undoubted courage and intelligence -- not of the army or navy -- to run in supplies by steam tugs, to be chartered in New York It is admitted to be a hazardous scheme which, if successful, is likely to be attended with some loss of life and the total destruction of the boats.
The force which would constitute the expedition, if undertaken, as well as the officer in command would not, if I rightly understand the proposition, be of the army or navy. It is proposed to aid and carry out the enterprise by an armed ship at the mouth of the harbor and beyond the range of the shore batteries, which is to drive in the armed boats of the enemy beyond Fort Sumter. But, suppose these armed boats of the enemy refuse to go into the inner harbor, as I think they will refuse, and shall station themselves between Sumter and the ship for the express purpose of intercepting your boats -- how can you prevent them from taking that station and capturing the tugs? There can be but one way, and that is by opening a fire upon them from Sumter, or the ship, and perhaps both.
If this is done, will it not be claimed that aggressive war has been commenced by us upon the state and its citizens in their own harbor? It may be possible to provision Fort Sumter by the volunteer expedition, aided by the guns of Sumter and the ship -- the military gentlemen admit its possibility, but they question the wisdom of the enterprise in its military aspect and I would not impeach their conclusion.

In a political view, I entertain doubts of the wisdom of the measure, when the condition of the public mind in different sections of the country and the peculiar exigency of affairs are considered. Notwithstanding the hostile attitude of South Carolina and her long and expensive preparations, there is a prevailing belief that there will be no actual collision. An impression has gone abroad that Sumter is to be evacuated and the shock caused by that announcement has done its work. The The public mind is becoming tranquilized under it and will become fully reconciled to it when the causes which have led to that necessity shall have been made public and are rightly understood. They are attributable to no act of those who now administer the government.

By sending or attempting to send provisions into Sumter, will not war be precipitated? It may be impossible to escape it under any course of policy that may be pursued, but I am not prepared to advise a course that would provoke hostilities. It does not appear to me that the dignity, strength or character of the government will be promoted by an attempt to provision Sumter in the manner proposed, even should it succeed, while a failure would be attended with untold disaster.

I do not therefore, under all the circumstances, think it wise to attempt to provision Fort Sumter.
I am, very respectfully,
Gideon Welles
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mal:@field(DOCID+@lit(d0817200))
 

wilber6150

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#5
Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois.

Edward Bates to Abraham Lincoln, Friday, March 15, 1861 (Opinion on Fort Sumter)


The President of the United States has required my opinion in writing, upon the following question:
"Assuming it to be possible to now provision Fort Sumter, under all the circumstances, is it wise to attempt it?"
This is not a question of lawful right nor physical power, but of prudence & patriotism only. The right is, in my mind unquestionable, and I have no doubt at all that the Government has the power and the means, not only to provision the Fort, but also, if the exigency required, to man it, with its war complement of 650 men, so as to make it impregnable to any local force that could be brought against it. Assuming all this, we come back to the question -- "Under all the circumstances, is it wise," now to provision the fort?

The wisdom of the act must be tested by the value of the object to be gained, & by the hazards to be encountered in the enterprise. The object to be gained, by the supply of provisions, is not to strengthen the fortress, so as to command the harbor and enforce the laws, but only to prolong the labors & privations of the brave little garrison that have so long held it, with patient courage.

The possession of the fort, as we now hold it, does not enable us to collect the revenue or enforce the laws of commercial navigation. It may indeed involve a point of honor or a point of pride, but I do not see any great national interest involved in the bare fact of holding the fort, as we now hold it -- and to hold it at all, we must supply it with provisions. And it seems to me that we may, in humanity & patriotism, safely waive the point of pride, in the consciousness that we have the power, and lack nothing but the will, to hold Fort Sumter in such condition as to command the harbor of Charleston, cut off all its commerce, and even lay the city in ashes.

The hazards to be met are many and obvious. If the attempt be made in rapid boats light enough to pass the bar in safety, still they must pass under the fire of Fort Moultrie and the batteries on Morris' Island. They might possibly escape that danger, but they cannot hope to escape the armed guard boats which ply all night, from the Fort to the outer edge of the bar-- These armed guard boats would be sure to take or destroy our unarmed tugs, unless repelled by force, either from our ships outside the bar, or from Fort Sumter within -- and that is war.

True, war already exists by the act of South Carolina -- but this Government has, thus far, magnanimously forborne to retort the outrage. And I am willing to forbear yet longer, in the hope of a peaceful solution of our present difficulties. I am most unwilling to strike -- I will not say the first blow, for South Carolina has already struck that -- but I am unwilling, "under all the circumstances," at this moment to do any act, which may have the semblance, before the world, of beginning a civil war, the terrible consequences of which would, I think, find no parallel in modern times. For I am convinced that flagrant civil war in the Southern states, would soon become a social war, and that could hardly fail to bring on a servile war, the horrors of which need not be dwelt upon.

To avoid these evils, I would make great sacrifices, -- and Fort Sumter is one; but if war be forced upon us by causeless & pertinacious rebellion, I am for resisting it, with all the might of the nation.
I am persuaded, moreover, that in several of the misguided states of the South, a large proportion of the people are really lovers of the Union, and anxious to be safely back, under the protection of its flag. A reaction has already begun, and, if encouraged by wise, moderate, and firm measures on the part of this Government, I persuade myself that the nation will be restored to its integrity, without the effusion of blood.
For these reasons, I am willing to evacuate Fort Sumter, rather than be an active party in the beginning of civil war. The port of Charleston, is, comparatively, a small thing. If the present difficulties should continue & grow, I am convinced, that the real struggle will be at the mouth of the Mississippi, for it is not politically possible for any foreign power, to hold the mouth of that river, against the people of the middle & upper valley.

If Fort Sumter must be evacuated, then it is my decided opinion, that the more Southern forts, -- Pickens, Key West &c -- should, without delay, be put in condition of easy defence against all assailants; and that the whole coast from South Carolina to Texas, should be as well guarded as the power of the Navy will enable us.
Upon the whole, I do not think it wise now to attempt to provision Fort Sumter.

Most respectfully submitted
Edwd. Bates
Atty. Genl
 

wilber6150

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#6
Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois.

Salmon P. Chase to Abraham Lincoln, Saturday, March 16, 1861 (Report on Fort Sumter)

From Salmon P. Chase to Abraham Lincoln, March 16, 1861
Treasury Department
March 16, 1861.
Sir,
The following question was submitted to my consideration by your note of yesterday:
"Assuming it to be possible to now provision Fort Sumter, under all the circumstances is it wise to attempt it?"

I have given to this question all the reflection which the engrossing duties of this Department has allowed.

A correct solution must depend, in my judgment, on the degree of possibility; on the combination of reinforcement with provisions; and on the probable effects of the measure upon the relations of the disaffected States to the National Government.

I shall assume, what the statements of the distinguished officers consulted seem to warrant, that the possibility of success amounts to a reasonable degree of probability; and, also, that the attempt to provision is to include an attempt to reinforce, for it seems to be generally agreed that provisioning without reinforcement, notwithstanding hostile resistance, will accomplish no substantially beneficial purpose.

The probable political effects of the measure allow room for much fair difference of opinion; and I have not reached my own conclusion without serious difficulty.
If the attempt will so inflame civil war as to involve the an immediate necessity of enlisting for the enlistment of armies and the expenditure of millions I cannot advise it, in the existing circumstances of the country and in the present condition of the National Finances.

But it seems to me highly improbable that the attempt, especially if accompanied or immediately followed by a Proclamation setting forth a liberal & generous yet firm policy towards the disaffected States, in harmony with the principles of the Inaugural Address, will produce such consequences; while it cannot be doubted that in maintaining a fort belonging to the United States and in supporting the officers and men engaged, in the regular course of service, in its defence, the Federal Government exercises a clear right and, under all ordinary circumstances, performs a plain duty.

I return, therefore, an affirmative answer to the question submitted to me.
And have the honor to be,
With the highest respect
Your obt. servant
S: P: Chase
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mal:@field(DOCID+@lit(d0818300))
 

wilber6150

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#7
Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois.

Gideon Welles to Abraham Lincoln, Friday, March 29, 1861 (Notes from cabinet meeting on Fort Sumter; endorsed by Abraham Lincoln)

Gideon Welles, Opinion on Fort Sumter, March 29, 1861
[ Endorsed at Top of Document by Lincoln: In Cabinet]

Washington 29' March 1861
Sir
I concur in the proposition to send an armed force off Charleston with supplies of provisions and reinforcements for the garrison at fort Sumter, and of communicating, at the proper time, the intentions of the government to provision the fort, peacably if unmolested. There is little probability that this will be permitted, if the opposing forces can prevent it. An attempt to force in provision, without reinforcing the garrison at the same time, might not be advisable. But armed resistance to a peacable attempt to send provisions to one of our own forts will justify the government in using all the power at its command, to reinforce the garrison and furnish the necessary supplies.

Fort Pickens and other places retained should be strengthened by additional troops, and, if possible made impregnable. The naval force in the gulf and on the southern coast should be increased. Accounts are published that vessels, having on board marketable products for the crews of the squadron at Pensacola on service -- the inhabitants we know are prohibited from furnishing the ships with provisions or water; and the time has arrived, when it is the duty of the government to assert and maintain its authority.
Very Respectfully
Gideon Welles
http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mal:@field(DOCID+@lit(d0848300))
 

wilber6150

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#8
I'm posting these letters from Lincolns advisor's to show that he was looking for advice on whether he should re-supply the fort or not, and to send reenforcments.The exact question seems to be "Assuming it to be possible to now provision Fort Sumter, under all the circumstances, is it wise to attempt it?"

None of these shows any evidence that he was looking for advice on invading the South and most of the responses show that the President was advised not to do things that might set off the war..It also shows that Sumter would only receive additional troops if hostilities were commenced otherwise just food and supplies..They seemed to expect the war to start but didn't want the Union to be the one that fired it...
 
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#9
Someone please explain what the highlighted part means. It seems Lincoln is writing in cypher.

WASHINGTON, May 1st, 1861.
Capt. G.V. Fox:
My Dear Sir, I sincerely regret that the failure of the late attempt to provision Fort Sumter should be the source of any annoyance to you. The practicability of your plan was not, in fact, brought to a test. By reason of a gale, well known in advance to be possible, and not improbable, the tugs, an essential part of the plan, never reached the ground ; while, by an accident, for which you were in nowise responsible, and possibly I, to some extent, was, you were deprived of a war-vessel, with her men, which you deemed of great importance to the enterprise.
I most cheerfully and truthfully declare that the failure of the undertaking has not lowered you a particle, while the qualities you developed in the effort have greatly heightened you in my estimation. For a daring and dangerous enterprise of a similar character, you would, to-day, be the man of all my acquaintances whom I would select. You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail ; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result.
Very truly your friend, A. LINCOLN.
 
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#10
The invasion force was to be about 500 men. 300 were onboard the Powhatan that was mistakenly sent to reinforce Ft. Pickens where they were'nt needed. Why is the 200 number repeated over and over.
 
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#11
Another question, why was it made public that the garrison of Fort Sumter was starving and that they had food to last only until April 15th? They were allowed to buy food from Charleston until April 7th.

Was this some kind of propaganda to influence the Northern and world opinion that the evil southerners were starving the poor garrison to death?
 
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#12
Another question, why was it made public that the garrison of Fort Sumter was starving and that they had food to last only until April 15th? They were allowed to buy food from Charleston until April 7th.

Was this some kind of propaganda to influence the Northern and world opinion that the evil southerners were starving the poor garrison to death?
It was indeed a brilliant move to sway public opinion in the north. It was for Lincolns and sort of "heads I win, tails you lose". Lincoln out-smarted Davis. causing Davis to open the war, which is why it was so easy to muster thousands of recruits to the US Army to put down the Rebellion.
 
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#13
It was indeed a brilliant move to sway public opinion in the north. It was for Lincolns and sort of "heads I win, tails you lose". Lincoln out-smarted Davis. causing Davis to open the war, which is why it was so easy to muster thousands of recruits to the US Army to put down the Rebellion.
So Lincoln wanted war and was willing to provoke the first shot to start it. I wouldn't call it brilliant, maybe sinister. His cabinet tried to persuade him to evacuate the fort because it would start a war.
 
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#14
So Lincoln wanted war and was willing to provoke the first shot to start it. I wouldn't call it brilliant, maybe sinister. His cabinet tried to persuade him to evacuate the fort because it would start a war.

There were Cannons positioed at Sumter, so I'd say that Davis was prepared to provoke the first shot. Lincoln just put the ball in davis's court. If Davis fired on Ships, which he did, and if he fired on Sumter, which he did, than American opinion would be in favor of Mr. Lincoln. If Davis let the ships with provisions through, It would have been a show of US strength in keeping a federal instillation, and thus maintaining the upper hand. Lincoln did NOT want war. You can find his letters all over the internet to that effect. But if war was inevitable, He was going to make **** sure that he was in a position to win it, and as quickly as possible and bring the Confed's back in to in the Union.
 

brass napoleon

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#15
Someone please explain what the highlighted part means. It seems Lincoln is writing in cypher.

WASHINGTON, May 1st, 1861.
Capt. G.V. Fox:
My Dear Sir, I sincerely regret that the failure of the late attempt to provision Fort Sumter should be the source of any annoyance to you. The practicability of your plan was not, in fact, brought to a test. By reason of a gale, well known in advance to be possible, and not improbable, the tugs, an essential part of the plan, never reached the ground ; while, by an accident, for which you were in nowise responsible, and possibly I, to some extent, was, you were deprived of a war-vessel, with her men, which you deemed of great importance to the enterprise.
I most cheerfully and truthfully declare that the failure of the undertaking has not lowered you a particle, while the qualities you developed in the effort have greatly heightened you in my estimation. For a daring and dangerous enterprise of a similar character, you would, to-day, be the man of all my acquaintances whom I would select. You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail ; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result.
Very truly your friend, A. LINCOLN.
Taken in context with the rest of the letter and with other things Lincoln has said prior to this, I would paraphrase it this way:

"The cause of the country is that we will not surrender any more federal property to the secessionists, at least not without a fight. And if a fight is to result, as it seems the secessionists desire, I have vowed that we would not fire the first shot. You, Captain Fox, have made a daring and dangerous attempt to peacefully provision Fort Sumter, which, if successful, would have allowed us to continue to hold the fort. Due to circumstances for which you are in nowise responsible, the attempt failed. While I understand this is a great source of annoyance to you, let it be no small consolation that at least we did not fire the first shot."
 
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#16
I'm posting these letters from Lincolns advisor's to show that he was looking for advice on whether he should re-supply the fort or not, and to send reenforcments.The exact question seems to be "Assuming it to be possible to now provision Fort Sumter, under all the circumstances, is it wise to attempt it?"

None of these shows any evidence that he was looking for advice on invading the South and most of the responses show that the President was advised not to do things that might set off the war..It also shows that Sumter would only receive additional troops if hostilities were commenced otherwise just food and supplies..They seemed to expect the war to start but didn't want the Union to be the one that fired it...
Wilber, you said the OR's don't mention reinforcements to Fort Sumter. Here is an example from the OR's.

Official Records of the Civil War
SERIES: I VOLUME: I CAMPAIGN: Charleston SERIAL: 001 PAGE: 0236

HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, D. C., April 4, 1861.
Lieutenant Colonel HENRY L. SCOTT, A. D. C., New York:
SIR: This letter will be landed to you by Captain G. V. Fox, ex-officer of the Navy, and a gentleman of high standing, as well as possessed of extraordinary nautical ability. He is charged by high authority here with the command of an expedition, under cover of certain ships of war, whose object is to re-enforce Fort Sumter.
To embark with Captain Fox you will cause a detachment of recruits, say about two hundred, to be immediately organized at Fort Columbus, with a competent number of officers, arms, ammunition, and subsistence. A large surplus of the latter-indeed, as great as the vessels of the expedition can take-with other necessaries, will be needed for the augmented garrison of Fort Sumter.
The subsistence and other supplies should be assorted like those which were provided by you and Captain Ward of the Navy for a former expedition. Consult Captain Fox and Major Eaton on the subject, and give all necessary orders in my name to fit out the expedition, except that the hiring of vessels will be left to others.
Some fuel must be shipped. Oil, artillery implements, fuses, cordage, slow-march, mechanical levers, and gins, &c., should also be put on board.
Consult, also, if necessary, confidentially, Colonel Tompkins and Major Thornton.
Respectfully, yours,
WINFIELD SCOTT.

My hilite and there are more as I find them.
 

brass napoleon

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#17
It was indeed a brilliant move to sway public opinion in the north. It was for Lincolns and sort of "heads I win, tails you lose". Lincoln out-smarted Davis. causing Davis to open the war, which is why it was so easy to muster thousands of recruits to the US Army to put down the Rebellion.
I have to disagree with this. Time was on Lincoln's side, or at least that's what he believed. The Confederacy had been still-born, with a majority of Southerners opposed to secession and only 7 of the 15 slaveholding states seceding. The more time went by, the more Southerners would realize this, and the greater the call would be to return to the Union. The longer Lincoln could hold out, the better. But that doesn't mean letting United States soldiers starve at their posts, and it doesn't mean turning tail and running from a confrontation like a coward.

The secessionists also understood that time was on Lincoln's side, and that's why they opened fire. They had grown weary of waiting for him to break his promise of not attacking them.

P.S. - If Lincoln had really been trying to provoke the secessionists into firing the first shot, why did he send a courier to Governor Pickens informing him that an attempt would be made to resupply Fort Sumter with provisions only?
 
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#18
I have to disagree with this. Time was on Lincoln's side, or at least that's what he believed. The Confederacy had been still-born, with a majority of Southerners opposed to secession and only 7 of the 15 slaveholding states seceding. The more time went by, the more Southerners would realize this, and the greater the call would be to return to the Union. The longer Lincoln could hold out, the better. But that doesn't mean letting United States soldiers starve at their posts, and it doesn't mean turning tail and running from a confrontation like a coward.

The secessionists also understood that time was on Lincoln's side, and that's why they opened fire. They had grown weary of waiting for him to break his promise of not attacking them.

P.S. - If Lincoln had really been trying to provoke the secessionists into firing the first shot, why did he send a courier to Governor Pickens informing him that an attempt would be made to resupply Fort Sumter with provisions only?

To warn Gov. Pickens not fire on a ship that was only trying to relieve hungry soldiers. Again, the ball was in Picken's court. Whether or not Pickens chose to allow these provisions would sway public sentiment.
 

wilber6150

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#19
Another question, why was it made public that the garrison of Fort Sumter was starving and that they had food to last only until April 15th? They were allowed to buy food from Charleston until April 7th.

Was this some kind of propaganda to influence the Northern and world opinion that the evil southerners were starving the poor garrison to death?
So was Anderson lying when he said he would surrander by the 15th because he didn't have supplies?
 

brass napoleon

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#20
To warn Gov. Pickens not fire on a ship that was only trying to relieve hungry soldiers. Again, the ball was in Picken's court. Whether or not Pickens chose to allow these provisions would sway public sentiment.
Agreed. I think I misunderstood your original post then. I just don't think Lincoln would have considered it "heads I win, tails you lose". It was a bad situation with lots of potential bad outcomes.
 



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