The Star of the West Incident– Part 2

OFFICIAL RECORDS: Series 1, vol 1, Part 1 (Charleston Campaign)


FORT SUMTER, S. C., January 6, 1861

Colonel S. COOPER, Adjutant-General:

COLONEL: Through the courtesy of Governor Pickens I am enabled to make this communication, which will be taken to Washington by my brother, Larz Anderson, esq. I have the honor to report my command in excellent health and in fine spirits. We are daily adding to the strength of our position by closing up embrasures which we shall not use, mounting guns, &c. The South Carolinians are also very active in erecting batteries and preparing for a conflict, which I pray God may not occur. Batteries have been constructed bearing upon and, I presume, commanding the entrance to the harbor. They are also to-day busily at work on a battery at Fort Johnson, intended to fire against me. My position will, should there be no treachery among the workmen, whom we are compelled to retain for the present enable me to hold this fort against any force which can be brought against me, and it would enable me in the event of a war, to annoy the South Carolinians by preventing them from throwing supplies into their new posts except by the out-of-the-way passage through Stone River. AT present, it would be dangerous and difficult for a vessel from without to enter the harbor, in consequence of the batteries which are already erected and being erected. I shall not ask for any increase of my command, because I do not know what the ulterior views of the Government are. We are now, or soon will be, cut off from all communication, unless by means of a powerful fleet, which shall have the ability to carry the batteries at the mouth of this harbor.

Trusting in God that nothing will occur to array a greater number of States than have already taken ground against the General Government,

I am, colonel, respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major, First Artillery, Commanding.


Page 134


Washington, January 7, 1861

On board steamship Star of the West,

Supposed to be near Charleston, S. C.:

SIR: This communication is sent through the commander of the U. S. steam sloop-of-war Brooklyn.

His mission is twofold: First, to afford aid and succor in case your ship be shattered or injured; second, to convey this order of recall for your detachment in case it cannot land at Fort Sumter, to proceed to Fort Monroe, Hampton Roads, and there await further orders.

In case of your return to Hampton Roads, send a telegraphic message here at once from Norfolk.

Yours, very respectfully,


P. S. – On arrival at Fort Monroe, land your troops and discharge the ship.



Page 134

Colonel S. COOPER, Adjutant-General:

COLONEL: I have the honor to send herewith the correspondence which took place to-day between the governor of South Carolina and myself in relation to the firing by his batteries on a vessel bearing our flag. Lieutenant Talbot, whose health is very much impaired, will be the bearer of these dispatches, and he will be enabled to give you full information in reference to this and to all other matters.

I am, colonel, your obedient servant,


Major, First Artillery, Commanding.


FORT SUMTER, S. C., January 9, 1861


SIR: Two of your batteries fired this morning upon an unarmed vessel bearing the flag of my Government. As I have not been notified that war has been declared by South Carolina against the Government of the United States, I cannot but think that this hostile act was committed without your sanction or authority. Under that hope, and that alone, did I refrain from opening fire upon your batteries. I have the honor, therefore, respectfully to ask whether the above mentioned act-one, I believe, without a parallel in the history of our country or of any other civilized government-was committed in obedience to your instructions, and to notify you, if it be not disclaimed, that I must regard it as an act of war, and that I shall not, after a reasonable time for the return of my messenger, permit any vessels to pass within range of the guns of my fort. In order to save, as far as in my power, the shedding of blood, I beg that you will have due notification of this my decision given to all concerned. Hoping, however, that your answer may be such as will justify a further continuance of forbearance upon my part,

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Major, First Artillery, Commanding.


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