The Battle of Fort Sumter
The Beginning: Succession
“The secession of the southern states, individually or in the aggregate, was the certain consequence of Mr. Lincoln’s election. His accession to a power supreme and almost unparalleled was an unequivocal declaration, by the merchants of New England, that they had resolved to exclude the landed proprietors of the South from all participation in the legislation of their common country.” (Boyd).
Outrage in the south reached a fevered pitch with the conspiracy of John Brown to command a slave rebellion at Harper’s Ferry, VA in 1859. Likewise, the northern states were upset over the Supreme Court case of Dred Scott v. Sanford which declared ...view middle of the document...
At the same time that the North celebrated the victory, the southern states were discussing secession. Just a few days after Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration, both of South Carolina’s senators had submitted their resignations. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina enacted an ordinance of secession by a vote of 169-0. By February 4, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas had also seceded. The Confederate States of America was born.
Just when it seemed hostilities was to be inevitable; Senator Crittenden had one last inspirational idea to prevent bloodshed. He proposed that the Mason Dixon line be extended all the way to the Pacific Ocean. That would make any new state north of the line a “free” state and would allow legalized slavery to the south of the border. However, northern Republican’s riding high from their recent presidential victory found this solution unappealing. President Lincoln, long being an abolitionist, felt strongly that slavery was wrong. Lincoln however would do everything he could to prevent a war.
He gave an impassioned speech at his inauguration to persuade the southern states to return to the union. He promised that although no new states would have slavery, he would protect the rights to slavery in the state where it already existed. At the same time, Lincoln knew he had to do everything within his executive powers to prevent the decay of the nation he treasured so dearly. President Lincoln refused to permit any of the Union’s military installations in the south to fall into Confederate hands. He ordered that the Union army was to defend their military installations against aggression from the south.
Garrisoning the Fort
The building of Fort Sumter started after the War of 1812 because of the lack of defensive positions against any costal attack that may accrue against the Union states. The builders of the fortress designed it to control admittance to the Charleston Harbor allowing the control of goods in and out of the United States. The Union built the fortress on a diminutive manmade island in the harbor and could hold up to 650 soldiers and 135 artillery pieces. However, construction was never fully completed.
Only two companies of Union soldiers defended the ports of Charleston. These soldiers lived in a dilapidated base called Fort Moultrie. The commander of Fort Moultrie was a former slave owner named Major Robert Anderson. Major Anderson had his soldiers stationed at Fort Moultrie, but he deemed the fort unsafe and too hard to defend. The Major realized that the old fortress could not protect against a land assault. On December 26, 1860, he ordered his soldiers and their families to the much more easily defensible Fort Sumter.
Governor Pickens found this repositioning to be an act of aggression and in bad faith. The move was in complete contradiction of President Buchanan’s promise to leave Fort Sumter un-garrisoned. The Governor quickly issued orders to his...