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SUCCESS OF THE CONSPIRACY.
unification of its own communities. The enthronement of the Confederate authority in Richmond, as manifested by the opening of its Congress, may be regarded as the culmination and close of its labors.
But there was not reserved for the Confederate government that success which had been vouchsafed to its precursor, the Conspiracy. As will be seen on the following pages, from occupying at first the pinnacle of power, it exhibited a continuous decline, and fell in utter exhaus tion at last.
THE BOMBARDMENT OF FORT SUMTER.
The administration was constrained by public sentiment to defend Fort Sumter,
and fitted out a relieving expedition, which failed.
The fort was bombarded by orders from Montgomery, and, after a feeble defense, surrendered.
ON the day after his inauguration, President Lincoln Difficulty of reliev- received a communication from Major Anderson to the effect that Fort Sumter could not now be relieved by less than a force of 20,000 men. In this opinion General Scott, who had earnestly and repeatedly drawn the attention of the preceding administration to the subject at a time when re-enforcements could have been sent without difficulty, coincided. Animated by a desire to avoid hostilities, the new administration had actually entertained an intention of surrenderinclines to surren- ing the fort, and of vindicating the national honor by making a stand at Fort Pickens. But it was found that the people would not be satisfied with that substitute. In Charleston the government had been scorned and defied, and there the battle
of the nation must be fought. This external pressure eventually decided Lincoln, and at a cabinet meeting (March 21st) it was determined that an attempt should be made to re-enforce and provision the garrison.
It so happened that the only feasible plan of accomA fleet is fitted out plishing this involved the employment of in New York. the frigate Powhatan, then at New York. Orders were therefore given to have that ship fitted for
Public opinion insists on its defense.
CHAP. XXXVI.] ATTEMPT TO RELIEVE FORT SUMTER.
sea at the earliest moment, and on March 30th Captain Fox was sent to New York to superintend the preparation of the expedition. This consisted of three war ships, three transports, and two steam-tugs. Three hundred sailors, and a full supply of armed launches were required, and they were carried by the Powhatan.
The frigate Pow
The ships duly sailed from New York, but when the Powhatan was passing Staten Island, an orhatan detached, der was brought on board, directing her captain to transfer her to Lieutenant Porter, who took her to Fort Pickens instead of Fort Sumter. The Sumter relief expedition therefore necessarily failed. "This order was extracted, on the recommendation of Secretary Seward, from President Lincoln himself." The Secretary of the Navy was not consulted, and, indeed, knew nothing about it. He supposed the ship had gone to Charleston. "It was charged at the time, or as soon as the facts were and the expedition known, that the Secretary of State, having committed himself unofficially to the rebel commissioners, determined to thwart the purpose of the President, and prevent the relief of the fort." President Lincoln, however, assumed the responsibility of the affair, and stated that the sending away of the Powhatan was "an accident." In accordance with an understanding which had been entered into with the South Carolina authorities, notice was given to the governor of that state (April 8th) of the attempt about to be made.
At this period Mr. Seward exercised a predominating influence in the government, the necessary consequence of the eminent position he had held among the poli ticians of the triumphant Republican party. Even the President was for a time under his control. It was Mr. Seward's sincere belief that there would be no war; possibly there might be a disturbance, but it would be over in a few days. He had been accustomed all his life to
BEAUREGARD ORDERED TO ATTACK IT.
the management of parties, and supposed that the principles so advantageously resorted to with them would be sufficient still-that promises and compromises would compose the trouble. He did not comprehend that the South was determined to be satisfied with nothing less than separation, and resolved to have that, no matter what it might cost.
The diverting of the Powhatan from the Sumter expedition, without the knowledge of the Secretary of the Navy, was not the only indication that other members of the administration could not, as yet, exert their proper influence. In the cabinet meetings at which Buchanan in his day had presided, the order of business had been conducted with precision and circumstance; he was, as Davis well said, "a stickler for the ceremony of power." But in the early months of Lincoln's administration such meetings were very far from being stately ceremonials. The President's unfamiliarity with formal affairs, and especially his genial disposition, had given them a differ ent turn. Some of the most important movements were the result of conversations with his friend the Secretary of State, and occasionally they caused no little surprise to the other responsible cabinet ministers.
The secession authorities were now moved by three considerations: 1st. The failure of their commissioners to obtain an audience with the President in Washington (p. 22); 2d. The impending provisioning of the fort; 3d. The necessity of powerfully exciting the flagging enthusiasm of their people. They de termined, therefore, to send orders (April 10th) to Beauregard, whom they had placed in command at Charleston, to require the immediate surrender of the fort, and, if this were refused, to reduce it. Accordingly, on the next day, the demand was made by that officer, and compliance
Motives for attacking the fort.
with it promptly declined. But Anderson, the commandant of the fort, having remarked to the aids who had brought the summons that he should be starved out in the Proposals are made course of a few days, it was proposed to him that if he would state the time at which he must, under those circumstances, evacuate, and agree not to use his guns in the interval, unless Fort Sumter was fired upon, his assailants would abstain from attacking him. To this Anderson replied that he would evacuate the fort on the 15th instant, should he not. receive, prior to that time, controlling instructions from his government, or additional supplies; that he would not, in the mean time, open fire, unless compelled to do so by some hostile act against the fort or against the American flag.
It is to be remarked that the main point of this negotiation had reference to the expected relief fleet. Had Anderson accepted Beauregard's terms, he would have incapacitated himself from assisting or protecting the fleet in its attempt.
and are declined by him.
PROPOSALS TO ANDERSON.
Beauregard now hastened the attack. The summons to surrender had been given at two o'clock in the afternoon; the letter of inquiry was dated at eleven of the same night, and before daybreak Anderson was notified that in an hour the batteries would open on him.
Strength of the garrison.
Fort Sumter has already been described (vol. i., p. 542); the force originally brought into it consisted of 55 artillerists, 9 officers, 30 laborers, 15 musicians; the artillerists had, however, been reduced to 35. No preparation had been made for resistance. There were only 700 cartridges. No means of pointing the guns properly were at hand; they could be fired only by guess. The garrison had no bread; the rice had been accidentally mixed with fragments of glass through the shattering of some window-panes. The wooden barracks had not been removed. So little prevision had been ex