Why did the south fire on Fort Sumter?

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Jul 12, 2016
Point Lookout
Some interesting evidence in support of defensive first strike as to “why” (I'm not suggesting that an actual attack was planned)

CS Commissioner via Telegram to Charleston:

“The Tribune of today (10 April) declares the main object of the expedition to be the relief of Sumter, and the that a force will be landed which will overcome all opposition”

P259 “Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies”

Last edited:

48th Miss.

First Sergeant
May 11, 2016
North Carolina
John Haueisen, sir;

You wrote:

The many forts constructed on the coastal boarders of the United States had origins soon after the War of 1812, to which defense was lacking and the "united" states and commonwealths in agreement began construction using the common treasury (U.S. Treasury) in paying for the costs of construction of the many forts as to thwart foreign invasion and designed to aim outward --not internally, which would be defended by militia, military and its many patriotic citizens.

The most prestigious engineers happened to be trained by the United States Military Academy, known now as "West Point," in New York; not to be confused with West Point, Virginia. After serving in the military, many graduates retired after their duty to the military and paid handsomely in the private sector for their engineering minds. Since forts were for the military defense who best to build them but military men.

South Carolina's forts were being constructed at the same time but, size and or difficulties of construction caused some to go ahead more smoothly than the others.

The South Carolina Governor circa 1840's sold the land where forts were being constructed -- thus legally deeded to the United States Government, et. al., and in a sense -- to the whole of the United States--not just one state; as the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and other conflicts in between acknowledged that war would travel where the armies would move around within. We, in a general sense know through history, e.g. French-Indian Wars, Revolutionary War, War of 1812, etc., that invasion can be at any port of entry and the goal of invasion elsewhere. So, in fact all of these forts were designed for the common defense of all Americans--not just the host state to which forts were built upon and property dedicated and deeded lawfully to the United States as to make a statement of unity if attacked. Forts were as much a symbolic function as well as defense function. Attack a fort-you attack the U.S.A., et.al.

Prior to the attack in earnest of Fort Sumter; Governor Pickens repeatedly through documentation in the 1860's wished Fort Sumter to be destroyed. Long before the Provisional Confederate Government, President Cobb presiding President and the more recognized Confederate States of America was formed, to which President Jefferson Davis was elected to in Montgomery, Alabama (the true cradle of the Confederacy, in my opinion).

In the lame duck years of President James Buchanan's Administration, delegates representing South Carolina paid a visit on President Buchanan giving stipulations to Buchanan and wanting the forts returned to South Carolina --so Governor Pickens was acting as sole agent for South Carolina. Unknown to President Buchanan; then Senator Jefferson Davis, head of committee on Military affairs; Secretary of War, Floyd and Adjutant-General - Colonel Sam Cooper had been feeding Governor Pickens' inside intelligence, funneling money and arms to the states to which would soon secession be finalized.

President Buchanan was duty bound to provide living necessities, such as food, clothing and or other supplies, like any other military fort inside the interior or, forts on the water's edge. In addition, the President Buchanan was not empowered to deed over the fort as the delegation demanded--this power to deed and or eminent domaine property is within the U.S. Congress. Jefferson Davis, Floyd, Perkins and the whole lot of politicians had to have known this. In addition to appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals. The judicial aspects were never approached with these 'questions and difficulties' proffered by Governor Pickens and the Provisional Confederate Congress to the Buchanan Administration.

In several threads on the topic of Fort Sumter and in response to Abraham Lincoln starting hostilities in regard to Fort Sumter; the fact remains that in 1860, Governor Pickens was bent passionately to destroy Fort Sumter at all costs and for all kinds of excuses, naming it was a threat to South Carolina.

Governor Pickens kept pressure on the U.S. Government, in concert with Secretary of War Floyd, Colonel Sam Cooper --Adjutant-General, Senator Jefferson Davis in the Senate and chairman of the military affairs during the Buchanan Administration. Meanwhile, Major Anderson to whom was married to a South Carolinian wife--remained steadfast loyal to his oath and commission. Engineer Foster, often overlooked as an additional key player--did all he could to plead the plight of the situation, along with Major Anderson - commanding officer of the post. So, two arms of services -- Captain Foster of the Engineers, in charge of many civilian workers and family, few staff members and Major Anderson with a detail - not a full company of artillery providing a military presence with a many unmounted guns and certainly not enough men to man all the guns properly.

Governor Pickens himself maintains in a letter to Provisional President Cobb, that Lincoln may or may not take up the problem concerning Fort Sumter, thus diverts proof that this whole issue of Fort Sumter was ripe during the Buchanan Administration and timing all things upon the transition of the Government's mantle from one President to another, while the incoming President would be void of his cabinet and valuable advisers.

Few acknowledge the two incidents to which Fort Sumter were fired upon prior to 'official' firing on Fort Sumter. Though claimed as an accident twice--I can't think of any excuse as to why a artillery piece was aimed at Fort Sumter if it was for 'practice.'

Few acknowledge that only 40 muskets were taken from the Government's arsenal and such a stink was raised by Governor Pickens--Anderson had to return said muskets back. Few acknowledge that Anderson's mail was read and interaction between Anderson and the U.S. Government was censored as well as monitored.

Few acknowledge that there was a constant angry mob of individuals in town. Certainly, provoked by the hostilities within the political realms and fanned by fire-eaters.

Denied humanitarian resources, such as food and hygiene products to the military men of the artillery detachment and engineers, their wives and children, civilian laborers --this in my opinion was holding those individuals hostage. South Carolina denied Major Anderson any sort of guards, city watchmen to be posted as to be a protective barrier between Anderson, et.al., and the angry citizens of South Carolina.

When Senator Jefferson Davis resigned, then Floyd -- suddenly South Carolina shouts 'this means war.' -- documents after their departure no doubt raised some insight as to what went on behind the scenes behind President Buchanan's back.

Of course prior to this -- Beauregard has assembled a healthy army as to set upon Fort Sumter. His artillery posted at the other two forts under South Carolina's flag -- not the C.S.A. flag -- South Carolina's flag; months prior to all of this.

Personally, I think there are many reasons why 'the South' et.al., fired on Fort Sumter; as Jefferson Davis quickly jumped into Governor Pickens' long entrenched idea to take Fort Sumter by force if necessary with the claim of state's rights as it's rally call--to me, seeing that it was well planned to exit Washington as to time it between Administrations and perhaps an assumption that Lincoln was just a 'country bumpkin' and not skilled in leadership, government of any great size and the surprise of the attack on Fort Sumter.

What the citizens at large did not know, was the proper deeding of land to the Federal Government by South Carolina in the 1840's and their overall understanding how the Federal Government functioned and why Congress was the power to hold responsible for any change of land holdings back and forth between states/commonwealths just as any foreign country. To make Buchanan and Lincoln appear as the responsible parties for the hostilities, when it would have been more fair and proper to hold "Congress" responsible --this political slight of hand as far as manipulating the public was easy to do; as most civilians didn't have the education as to the function of the three branches of Government. Easily fanned by patriotism, the defense of country and home--good people were justly alarmed and joined military services.

In these times--providing for family of the most basic of things was more important than education. However, this does not include the intelligence of mankind. However, the lack of education and resources to check for themselves what was being said and spread, I am of the opinion was a major factor for the empowering of the few by so many.

I am of the thought, that the good men and women of the Secession States and Commonwealths, would not know how much they were duped until post Civil War. When education was pushed even stronger as to give individuals the ability to read, write and think for themselves which is--in a sense, a form of independence. Americans at large, hate to loose and hate to have been tricked into something ...be 'the sucker' per se. It is only natural to 'save face' when found in an embarrassing and or compromised position.

I am of the opinion, that those of the Confederacy and or "The South", et.al., should be more flattered than offended, as to have the many Union states fight so hard and passionately to keep those secession states/commonwealth within 'the family' because, to me-- when you have family that will risk all to safe another of that family from a terrible act, a wrong path and or a self destructive journey; it means you (in a general sense) have value as a member of the family/community/a Nation.

I cannot help but return my thoughts to Lee and Grant at Appomattox. Grant entitled to grand applause and such, in the surrender of Lee's Army--but, in shutting all celebrations down fully--he opened the door to allow all wayward brothers to return peacefully and with genuine appreciation. General Chamberlain and General Gordon exchange -- coming from the heart a quiet acknowledgment of respect and honoring fellow Americans and Gordon waking up to the realization that in defeat--there was/is honor. There can be honor but, hate must be removed entirely for exchanges of respect, honor and civility as to uplift one another to take hold. General W. T. Sherman and General Joseph E. Johnston, working together for peace in the spirit of Lee and Grant at Appomattox -- nearly spoiled by the assassination of President Lincoln. The heartfelt anguish expressed by General Ewell in prison speaking for the many other Generals and military men of the Confederacy upon news of Lincoln's Assassination.

No matter how and why things happen -- the blame, in my opinion is on those politicians/law makers, to whom were the law breakers by entering into conspiracy as to gain at the expense of the whole citizenry of the United States.

Just my opinions.

Respectfully submitted for consideration,
M. E. Wolf
Being totally new to this depth of study of the ACW, I can neither agree or disagree but I did read with interest the many points mentioned here. Most of which I have never heard before. Your time in writing this is appreciated
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