After The Star of the West, From the ORs, part 1

Some emphasis added . Very little commentary. The facts tell the story.

After The Star of The West

We have now read the events leading up to the Star of the West of the West Incident. Afrer this incident both sides were engaged mostly in building fortifications and strengthening their positions. I will began to post events, from the ORs, leading up to the actual firing on Fort Sumter. There is related information found in the SHAPE website ( ) that can be found by using our serch feature. I have no intention of linking to these other posts at this time.

Some entries iin the ORs will not appear since they contain only daily reports and no real facts. Some entries my be edited for length. If you feel that I have omitted an entry that should be posted please let me know.There may be some spelling errors due to copy and paste. My apologies.


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


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

General TOTTEN;

MY DEAR SIR: I have only a moment to write by Lieutenant Meade [?], who comes with dispatches from Major Anderson. I wish to assure you, however, that the officers of your corps are doing everything in their power to make this work impregnable, even with the present small garrison of seventy men. We even mount all the guns, as we can do it much more rapidly than the garrison. We have twenty-nine guns on the first tier and eleven on the barbette tier. Four 8-inch columbiads are ready to mount to-morrow. I shall place the 10-inch on the parade as mortars.

The firing upon the Star of the West this morning by the batteries on Morris Island opened the war, but Major Anderson hopes that the delay of sending to Washington may possibly prevent civil war. The hope, although a small one, may be the thread that prevents the sundering of the Union. We are none the less determined to defend ourselves to the last extremity. I am in want of funds,and would respectfully urge that as soon as possible $15,000 may be placed to my credit in New York. In haste.

Very respectfully,


Captain, Engineers.

P. S. – I beg to refer you to Lieutenant Meade [?] for particulars.

J. G. F.



Received January 12 by Lieutenant Talbot, U. S. Army.

WAR DEPARTMENT, January 10, 1861


First Artillery, Commanding at Fort Sumter, S. C.:

SIR: Your dispatches to Numbers 16, inclusive have been received. Before the receipt of that of 31st December,* announcing that the Government

Page 137

might re-enforce you at its leisure, and that you regarded yourself safe in your present position, some two hundred and fifty instructed recruits had been ordered to proceed from Governor’s Island to Fort Sumter on the Star of the West, for the purpose of strengthening the force under your command. The probability is, from the current rumors of to-day, that this vessel has been fired into by the South Carolinians, and has not been able to reach you. To meet all contingencies, the Brooklyn has been dispatched, with instructions not to cross the bar at the harbor of Charleston, but to afford to the Star of the West and those on board all the assistance they may need, and in the event the recruits have not effected a landing at Fort Sumter they will return to Fort Monroe.

I avail myself of the occasion to express the great satisfaction of the Government at the forbearance, discretion and firmness with which you have acted, amid the perplexing and difficult circumstances in which you have been placed. You will continue, as heretofore, to act strictly on the defensive; to avoid, by all means compatible with the safety of your command, a collision with the hostile forces by which you are surrounded. But for the movement so promptly and brilliantly executed, by which you transferred your forces to Fort Sumter, the probability is that ere this the defenselessness of your position would have invited an attack, which, there is reason to believe, was contemplated, if not in active preparation, which must have led to the effusion of blood, that has been thus so happily prevented. The movement, therefore, was in every way admirable, alike for its humanity [and] patriotism, as for its soldiership.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary of War ad interim.


FORT SUMTER, S. C., January 12, 1861

General JOS. G. TOTTEN,

Chief Engineer U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: The sudden resolution to send a joint commission to Washington enables me to write only a few lines to tell you that my operations are going steadily on.

Page 138–

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain of Engineers.

( At this time i haven’t found anything about a commission to Washington. I assuming this is the peace commision to see Buchanan and perhaps some officers from Fort Sumter. Perhaps leter entries will tell us more.)


FORT SUMTER, S. C., January 14, 1861

General JOS. G. TOTTEN,

Chief Engineer U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: I have the honor to inform you that the facilities for mail communication between this fort and the city of Charleston have been restored by order of Governor Pickens. The arrangement is for one of my boats to receive the mail at Fort Johnson, wither it is to be brought every day at 12 o’clock, and to deliver the mail from the fort at the same time to be taken to the office in the city. The reason assigned for this particular arrangement is that it will avoid all chances for rencounters and bloodshed between our boats’ crews and riotous persons on the wharves in the city. All letters from the Department will, in all probability, be received. Page 139

During the continuance of the present arrangements for the mail I will keep you fully informed of everything that transpires.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain, Engineers.


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


WAR DEPARTMENT, January 16, 1861


First Artillery, Commanding Fort Sumter:

SIR: Your dispatch Numbers 17, covering your correspondence with the governor of South Carolina, has been received from the hand of Lieutenant Talbot. You rightly designate the firing into the Star of the West as “an act of war,” and one which was actually committed without the slightest provocation. Had their act been perpetrated by a foreign nation, it would have been your imperative duty to have resented it with the whole force of your batteries. As, however, it was the work of the government of South Carolina, which is a member of this confederacy, and was prompted by the passions of a highly-inflamed population of citizens of the United States, your forbearance to return the fire is fully approved by the President. Unfortunately, the Government had not been able to make known to you that the Star of the West had sailed from New York for your relief, and hence, when she made her appearance in the harbor of Charleston, you did not feel the force of the obligation to protect her approach as you would naturally have done had this information reached you. Your late dispatches, as well as the very intelligent statement of Lieutenant Talbot, have relieved the Government of the apprehensions previously entertained for your safety. In consequence it is not its purpose at present to re-enforce you. The attempt to do so would, no doubt, be attended by a collision of arms and the effusion of blood-a national calamity which the President is most anxious, if possible, to avoid. You will therefore, report frequently your condition, and the character and activity of the preparations, if any, which may be being made for an attack upon the fort, or for obstructing the Government in any endeavors it may make to strengthen your command.

Should your dispatches be of a nature too important to be intrusted to the mails you will convey them by special messengers. Whenever, in your judgment, additional supplies or re-enforcements are necessary for your safety, or for a successful defense of the fort, you will at once communicate the fact to this Department, and a prompt and vigorous effort will be made to forward them. Very respectfully, your obedient servant,



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