What was Lincoln's plan for Fort Sumter if it had been allowed to be resupplied with food ?

jgoodguy

.
-*- Mime -*-
Joined
Aug 17, 2011
Messages
35,538
Location
Birmingham, Alabama
I don't think he welcomed it, just that he was willing to fight a war if that's what it took. If he didn't believe a peaceful solution was to "be anticipated", then what other option did he have?

Davis himself laid out the following sequence of events:
- commissioners were sent to Washington to negotiate
- Secretary of state Seward, through Judge Campbell, assured the commissioners that Sumter would be evacuated
- while this was going on, Gustavus Fox made plans to reenforce the fort, and actually visited Charleston on March 21st to see the lay of the land
- As late as April 7, the commissioners were still being led to believe that Sumter would be evacuated. "Faith as to Sumter fully kept. Wait and see"
- Davis says that the intention was for the arrival of the fleet to be a surprise, and only a storm at sea delayed it long enough for Beauregard to get instructions on what to do.

So it seems to me as if when the time came for Davis to make a decision, he felt that not only could the United States not be trusted to deal in good faith, but that there was very little time in which to choose a course of action. Ships were on the way, so there was no more time. And the Confederate commissioners believed Charleston was going to be attacked.

https://books.google.com/books?id=ndTjAAAAQBAJ&pg=PT316&lpg=PT316&dq=The+'Tribune'+of+to-day+declares+the+++++main+object+of+the+expedition+to+be+the+relief+of+Sumter,+and+++++that+a+force+will+be+landed+which+will+overcome+all+opposition.&source=bl&ots=Gec0hN9_G4&sig=koq18cPM6YzUJsLHpafmdltN7b0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi1qIXlsJnOAhVKNj4KHb_0BgIQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=The 'Tribune' of to-day declares the main object of the expedition to be the relief of Sumter, and that a force will be landed which will overcome all opposition.&f=false

"Washington, _April 10, 1861_.

"General G. T. Beauregard: The 'Tribune' of to-day declares the
main object of the expedition to be the relief of Sumter, and
that a force will be landed which will overcome all opposition.


"Roman, Crawford, and Forsyth."


One does not have to believe that Davis wanted war to understand that he believed it was the only option left to him.

The "relief squadron," as with unconscious irony it was termed, was already under way for Charleston, consisting, according to their own statement, of eight vessels, carrying twenty-six guns and about fourteen hundred men, including the troops sent for reënforcement of the
garrison.

These facts became known to the Confederate Government, and it was obvious that no time was to be lost in preparing for, and if possible anticipating the impending assault.

Interesting, but Davis had the option of letting Lincoln shoot first.
 

Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!

Andersonh1

Major
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Messages
7,976
Location
South Carolina
Interesting, but Davis had the option of letting Lincoln shoot first.
Absolutely, but the more details I learn, the more I at least understand why Davis and the Confederates could have acted as they did, and what the rationale was. I don't think it's necessary to think that they went to war to bring in the upper south states or that he wanted a war in order to explain his actions.
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
29,694
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
Absolutely, but the more details I learn, the more I at least understand why Davis and the Confederates could have acted as they did, and what the rationale was. I don't think it's necessary to think that they went to war to bring in the upper south states or that he wanted a war in order to explain his actions.
So what did Davis and the new Confederacy gain by having "acted as they did?"
 

Andersonh1

Major
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Messages
7,976
Location
South Carolina
So what did Davis and the new Confederacy gain by having "acted as they did?"
It seems clear to me that they did not believe the US government would deal with them in good faith, and an attack was imminent. They clearly believed war was inevitable at that point, and they'd better clear the fort before it was reenforced. I think Davis believed that he had run out of other options.
 

Eric Calistri

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
May 31, 2012
Messages
3,087
Location
Austin Texas
It seems clear to me that they did not believe the US government would deal with them in good faith, and an attack was imminent. They clearly believed war was inevitable at that point, and they'd better clear the fort before it was reenforced. I think Davis believed that he had run out of other options.
You've seen the long list of secessionist seizures of United States properties, equipment and funds. Are you saying that those actions constituted "good faith" on the part of the confederates?
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
29,694
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
It seems clear to me that they did not believe the US government would deal with them in good faith, and an attack was imminent. They clearly believed war was inevitable at that point, and they'd better clear the fort before it was reenforced. I think Davis believed that he had run out of other options.
So, no long-term gains by having "acted as they did?' Do you see no flaws in the view that they "believed war was inevitable at that point?" You truly believe that Davis "had run out of other options?"
 

Andersonh1

Major
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Messages
7,976
Location
South Carolina
So, no long-term gains by having "acted as they did?' Do you see no flaws in the view that they "believed war was inevitable at that point?" You truly believe that Davis "had run out of other options?"
No, I think that's what he believed. I'm presenting his case, as he laid it out. How do you read it?
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
29,694
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
No, I think that's what he believed. I'm presenting his case, as he laid it out. How do you read it?
Andersonh1,

I think you are presenting his case, in the best possible light, with heresay evidence based on the comments of a man desperately trying to convince himself and others that he was in the right. This in spite of all the facts of history, which plainly show that this man dangerously underestimated his foes and the situation he helped create with that misconception that he could halt changes that were already happening in the rest of the world.

I am certain, from reading that history, all of it, Davis was trying his best to halt the coming of the future, that he was chained to a past he had no desire to desert and when that past was utterly destroyed by the war and his miscalculations, he did hid dead level best to salve his conscious and his actions that brought his country to disaster.

In short, he came to a fork in history's road and took the more familiar one, the one he knew best, one that afforded no change, no progress and no hope for something better.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 

CSA Today

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Joined
Dec 3, 2011
Messages
19,740
Location
Laurinburg NC
I don't think he welcomed it, just that he was willing to fight a war if that's what it took. If he didn't believe a peaceful solution was to "be anticipated", then what other option did he have?

Davis himself laid out the following sequence of events:
- commissioners were sent to Washington to negotiate
- Secretary of state Seward, through Judge Campbell, assured the commissioners that Sumter would be evacuated
- while this was going on, Gustavus Fox made plans to reenforce the fort, and actually visited Charleston on March 21st to see the lay of the land
- As late as April 7, the commissioners were still being led to believe that Sumter would be evacuated. "Faith as to Sumter fully kept. Wait and see"
- Davis says that the intention was for the arrival of the fleet to be a surprise, and only a storm at sea delayed it long enough for Beauregard to get instructions on what to do.

So it seems to me as if when the time came for Davis to make a decision, he felt that not only could the United States not be trusted to deal in good faith, but that there was very little time in which to choose a course of action. Ships were on the way, so there was no more time. And the Confederate commissioners believed Charleston was going to be attacked.

https://books.google.com/books?id=ndTjAAAAQBAJ&pg=PT316&lpg=PT316&dq=The+'Tribune'+of+to-day+declares+the+++++main+object+of+the+expedition+to+be+the+relief+of+Sumter,+and+++++that+a+force+will+be+landed+which+will+overcome+all+opposition.&source=bl&ots=Gec0hN9_G4&sig=koq18cPM6YzUJsLHpafmdltN7b0&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi1qIXlsJnOAhVKNj4KHb_0BgIQ6AEIHDAA#v=onepage&q=The 'Tribune' of to-day declares the main object of the expedition to be the relief of Sumter, and that a force will be landed which will overcome all opposition.&f=false

"Washington, _April 10, 1861_.

"General G. T. Beauregard: The 'Tribune' of to-day declares the
main object of the expedition to be the relief of Sumter, and
that a force will be landed which will overcome all opposition.


"Roman, Crawford, and Forsyth."


One does not have to believe that Davis wanted war to understand that he believed it was the only option left to him.

The "relief squadron," as with unconscious irony it was termed, was already under way for Charleston, consisting, according to their own statement, of eight vessels, carrying twenty-six guns and about fourteen hundred men, including the troops sent for reënforcement of the
garrison.

These facts became known to the Confederate Government, and it was obvious that no time was to be lost in preparing for, and if possible anticipating the impending assault.
Historian Richard N. Current hit the nail squarely on the head when he wrote: “Both parties deprecated war,” as Lincoln later put it, “but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.”

Richard N. Current, Lincoln And The First Shot, p. 208.

By April 1861, both adversaries were under no illusion that these were the alternatives.
 

Andersonh1

Major
Joined
Jan 12, 2016
Messages
7,976
Location
South Carolina
Andersonh1,

I think you are presenting his case, in the best possible light, with heresay evidence based on the comments of a man desperately trying to convince himself and others that he was in the right. This in spite of all the facts of history, which plainly show that this man dangerously underestimated his foes and the situation he helped create with that misconception that he could halt changes that were already happening in the rest of the world.

I am certain, from reading that history, all of it, Davis was trying his best to halt the coming of the future, that he was chained to a past he had no desire to desert and when that past was utterly destroyed by the war and his miscalculations, he did hid dead level best to salve his conscious and his actions that brought his country to disaster.

In short, he came to a fork in history's road and took the more familiar one, the one he knew best, one that afforded no change, no progress and no hope for something better.

Sincerely,
Unionblue
A lot of that is Monday morning quarterbacking, you have to admit. I think your point of view would be utterly alien to Davis. From his point of view, he was trying to preserve existing rights and institutions from a threat. He could not see the future, and neither could Lincoln for that matter. I doubt the people of that day viewed history as something that carried them along, leaving them the choice of whether to go with it or not. I'm sure they saw the future as something they created with their choices and actions. And that's what both sides tried to do.

It makes me wonder how people 150 years from now will judge us and our actions? It's impossible to know. I'm sure we'll fall short of their lofty expectations.
 

Carronade

1st Lieutenant
Joined
Aug 4, 2011
Messages
4,509
Location
Pennsylvania
It seems clear to me that they did not believe the US government would deal with them in good faith, and an attack was imminent. They clearly believed war was inevitable at that point, and they'd better clear the fort before it was reenforced. I think Davis believed that he had run out of other options.
Let's be honest - "deal in good faith" means "recognize Confederate independence". There was no, repeat no, reason for the United States government to even consider evacuating Fort Sumter other than accepting the independence of South Carolina or the southern states collectively. This was made clear by Jefferson Davis, the Confederate government, and the "peace commissioners" they sent to Washington, who refused to meet with federal authorities or President Lincoln unless recognized up front as the representatives of a sovereign nation.

As I've mentioned before, I think a peaceful separation might have been the best available option for irreconcilable differences, but again, let's be honest, nations and governments are rarely willing to do it, in 1861 or any other era.
 

jackt62

2nd Lieutenant
Joined
Jul 28, 2015
Messages
3,335
Location
New York City
Interesting question. I've never come across any writings that speculated or proposed what Lincoln might have done if Sumter had been resupplied successfully. Of course, being resupplied may have only delayed the inevitable. At some point, the garrison would again have to be resupplied and then what?
 

unionblue

Brev. Brig. Gen'l
Member of the Year
Joined
Feb 20, 2005
Messages
29,694
Location
Ocala, FL (as of December, 2015).
A lot of that is Monday morning quarterbacking, you have to admit.

I do, but what are we of this century left with except history? And of course you realize we are both engaged in the same "Monday morning quarterbacking" are we not?

I think your point of view would be utterly alien to Davis.

I'm sure it would be, but I have the ability to look back in time and see what he said before, during, and after the war.


From his point of view, he was trying to preserve existing rights and institutions from a threat.

Agreed.

He could not see the future, and neither could Lincoln for that matter.

Here we must disagree. I believe Lincoln had a vision of his nation's future, far better than the one Davis had
.

I doubt the people of that day viewed history as something that carried them along, leaving them the choice of whether to go with it or not.

Again, I must disagree. I am of the opinion that our Founders and others who came after them, had a hope, a vision of the future that gave them great expectations. Or how do we explain all those millions of people who supported Lincoln and the United States through some of the darkest days this country ever experienced?

I'm sure they saw the future as something they created with their choices and actions. And that's what both sides tried to do.

Again, agreed. I'm just glad one's concept of the future was utterly crushed while another's lived to survive and grow.


It makes me wonder how people 150 years from now will judge us and our actions? It's impossible to know. I'm sure we'll fall short of their lofty expectations.
Or we might just surprise them, learn from our mistakes and be thought of as a 'Golden Age.'

After all, a famous man once said, "It is history that teaches us to hope."

As you have said, we'll have to wait for them to do their version of "Monday morning quarterbacking."

Sincerely,
Unionblue
 
Last edited:


Fewer ads. Lots of American Civil War content!
JOIN NOW: REGISTER HERE!
Top