Question about the Fox's relief expedition to Ft. Sumter

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Rebforever

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Efforts to do so were both halfhearted and slow in coming. On the evening of Saturday, January 5, 1861, a force of 200 men, under the command of U.S. Army Lieutenant Charles R. Wood, boarded the steamer Star of the West at Governor’s Island in New York Harbor and immediately sailed for Charleston. Four days later, Star of the West approached within two miles of Fort Sumter before Southerners opened fire from a masked battery at the north end of Morris Island. "A brisk fire was kept up on us by the battery as long as we remained within range, but, fortunately, without damage to us," Wood later said in his report about the unsuccessful effort to reach Fort Sumter.
http://www.historynet.com/mission-to-relieve-fort-sumter-september-97-americas-civil-war-feature.htm
 
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W. Richardson

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Thank you. I appreciate this. The article does state that the Pawnee had arrived about 6 a.m. on April 12th (the firing on the fort began at 4:30 a.m.) and stayed 10 miles east of the lighthouse. It does not give the position in miles from Ft. Sumter or S.C. land that the Baltic and Harriet Lane were at and that's what I'd like to find out.

The Baltic arrived at 3:00 am on the 12th of April 10 miles outside of Charleston Harbor at the rendezvous point, and the Harriet Lane was already there.

Around 6:00 am Fox headed in with the Baltic, accompanied by the Harriet Lane. They neared the bar and heard the batteries booming, saw smoke trailing across the harbor, the war had already begun.

Source: First Blood - The Story of Fort Sumter, by W. A. Swanberg, pages: 309 - 310



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Respectfully,
William
 
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The Baltic arrived at 3:00 am on the 12th of April 10 miles outside of Charleston Harbor at the rendezvous point, and the Harriet Lane was already there.

Around 6:00 am Fox headed in with the Baltic, accompanied by the Harriet Lane. They neared the bar and heard the batteries booming, saw smoke trailing across the harbor, the war had already begun.

Source: First Blood - The Story of Fort Sumter, by W. A. Swanberg, pages: 309 - 310



View attachment 87205

Respectfully,
William
Thank you. That's exactly what I was looking for.
 

AndyHall

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It does not give the position in miles from Ft. Sumter or S.C. land that the Baltic and Harriet Lane were at and that's what I'd like to find out.
The implication is that they were waiting in the expected rendezvous anchorage at the entrance to the Swash Channel, about four miles east of the fort, well beyond artillery range.

This diagram, using an 1858 chart as a basis, shows the positions described in the linked article from @Rebforever. The anchorage probably didn't have precisely defined limits, and would have been used by naval and merchant vessels alike. The dotted line shows the likely approach to Sumter by the tugs and launches, if the reinforcement mission had actually come off. The distance from Moultrie to Sumter is just about exactly one statute mile; a little more to Fort Johnston, and a little less to Cummings Point. Note that to the west and south of Sumter, the water is so shallow that a man could almost wade out to the fort unassisted. (Don't tell that guy!)

Sumter Relief Map.jpg
 
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The implication is that they were waiting in the expected rendezvous anchorage at the entrance to the Swash Channel, about four miles east of the fort, well beyond artillery range.
Thank you for the information. If I understand the ship's positions correctly, they were never inside of U.S. or South Carolina territorial waters prior to the firing upon Ft. Sumter. International law recognized the 3 Mile Limit as territorial waters while a couple of countries claimed anywhere from 4 to 12 miles (the U.S. was 3 miles).
 

AndyHall

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Thank you for the information. If I understand the ship's positions correctly, they were never inside of U.S. or South Carolina territorial waters prior to the firing upon Ft. Sumter. International law recognized the 3 Mile Limit as territorial waters while a couple of countries claimed anywhere from 4 to 12 miles (the U.S. was 3 miles).
I don't know enough about the expedition to say for certain that they did not approach closer. But I do presume that Fox was being careful not to stir things up more than necessary before all the units were in place to act.

One thing I've found that gets lost in the story is that the reinforcement mission, had it been successful, would not have amounted to much in practical terms. Once you get past the rhetoric about a "Yankee invasion of the sovereign soil of South Carolina," etc., there's not a whole lot of power projection that three hundred mediocre artillerymen could have done, sitting on a rock surrounded by dozens of Confederate guns and thousands of secesh militia, every one of them eager to plink a bluecoat or two.

What really mattered was the large quantity of provisions coming with the expedition, that would have enabled Fort Sumter to hold out for months, in which case it would have remained a potent symbol of U.S. refusal to recognize the Confederacy's claim to the fort. So long as Major Anderson held out, Sumter was a big ol' turd in the secessionists' punch bowl, and that was what was untenable to Davis, Pickens, Wigfall and the rest. And so, they decided to roll the dice before Fox's expedition could land, and gamble on a short war.

Alea iacta est
, y'all.
 
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wilber6150

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I don't know enough about the expedition to say for certain that they did not approach closer. But I do presume that Fox was being careful not to stir things up more than necessary before all the units were in place to act.

One thing I've found that gets lost in the story is that the reinforcement mission, had it been successful, would not have amounted to much in practical terms. Once you get past the rhetoric about a "Yankee invasion of the sovereign soil of South Carolina," etc., there's not a whole lot of power projection that three hundred mediocre artillerymen could have done, sitting on a rock surrounded by dozens of Confederate guns and thousands of secesh militia, every one of them eager to plink a bluecoat or two.

What really mattered was the large quantity of provisions coming with the expedition, that would have enabled Fort Sumter to hold out for months, in which case it would have remained a potent symbol of U.S. refusal to recognize the Confederacy's claim to the fort. So long as Major Anderson held out, Sumter was a big ol' turd in the secessionists' punch bowl, and that was what was untenable to Davis, Pickens, Wigfall and the rest. And so, they decided to roll the dice before Fox's expedition could land, and gamble on a short war.

Alea iacta est
, y'all.
Then the whole thing would be repeated a few months down the road lol
 
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