Short Supplies at Fort Sumter

I remind you, I will not be posting daily work reports for either side.

By this communications we see that the men in Fort Sumter were not living the life of luxury, but they were far from starving. We also see that the intent of the fleet was not only to supply Anderson and his men, but also to re-enforce them. There is still no mention of slavery as the cause for the coming conflict.

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


[Inclosure Numbers 1.]

NAVY DEPARTMENT. Preliminary orders.-Steamers Pocahontas at Norfolk, Pawnee at Washington, Harriet Lane at New York (Treasury Department), to be under sailing orders for sea, with stores, &c., for one month. Three hundred men to be kept ready for departure from on board the receiving ships at New York.

[Inclosure Numbers 2.]

WAR DEPARTMENT. Preliminary.-Two hundred men to be ready to leave Governor’s Island in New York. Supplies for twelve months for one hundred men to be put in portable shape, ready for instant shipping. A large steamer and three tugs conditionally engaged. MARCH 28, 1861.


Page 228 Edited for content

FORT SUMTER, S. C., March 31, 1861.

General JOS. G. TOTTEN,
Chief Engineer U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:

Page 229

The provisions that I laid in for my force having become exhausted, and the supplies of the command being too limited to spare me any more, I am obliged to discharge nearly all my men to-day. I retain only enough to man a boat. I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain, Engineers.


NAVY DEPARTMENT, Washington, April 1, 1861.


Fit out the Powhatan to go to sea at the earliest possible moment under sealed orders. Orders by a confidential messenger go forward to-morrow.



Page 230

Numbers 90.] FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 1, 1861.
(Received A. G. O., April 4.)

Colonel L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General U. S. Army:

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that everything is still and quiet, as far as we can see, around us. The South Carolina Secretary of War has not sent the authority, asked for yesterday, to enable me to send off the discharged laborers. Having been in daily expectation, since the return of Colonel Lamon to Washington, of receiving orders to vacate this post, I have kept these men here as long as I could; but now, having nearly completed the important work of cleaning up the area, &c., I am compelled, in consequence of the small supply of provisions on hand, to discharge them. An examination of the accompanying report of the A. A. C. S. will show that the supply of provisions brought over would, had the issues been limited to my command, have lasted for a longer period than that mentioned in my letter of December 26, 1860. I have not made frequent mention of the question of our rations, because the Department was kept fully informed, from time to time, of the state of our supply. Lieutenants Talbot and Hall gave full information in reference to it when they went on, and on the 27th of January a detailed statement was sent on, from which any one in the Commissary Department could have told, knowing the number of souls in the fort, including the Engineer laborers, the exact amount on hand at any given time.*

I told Mr. Fox that if I placed the command on short allowance I could make the provisions last until after the 10th of this month; but as I have received no instructions from the Department that it was desirable I should do so, it has not been done. If the governor permits me to send off the laborers we will have rations enough to last us about one week longer.
I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major, First Artillery, Commanding.


FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 1, 1861.

Major ROBERT ANDERSON, First Artillery, Commanding:

MAJOR: In compliance with your request, I have the honor to submit the following list of provisions sold to Captain J. G. Foster, Corps of Engineers, for the subsistence of the employes in his department at this post, and have expressed the quantities in numbers of rations, viz:

Five and one-half barrels of pork-one thousand four hundred and sixty-seven rations.

Twenty barrels of flour-three thousand four hundred and eighty-five rations.

One hundred and eighty pounds hard bread-one hundred and eighty rations.

Two and one-half bushels of beans-one thousand rations.

One hundred and seventy-four pounds coffee-one thousand seven hundred and forty rations.

Seven hundred and seventy-four pounds sugar-five thousand one hundred and sixty rations.

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These provisions, which have necessarily been consumed by others, would have added to the time we have already been at this post subsistence for the following number of days, respectively:

Pork-Sixteen and twenty-seven-ninetieth days.

Flour and hard bread-Forty and sixty-five-ninetieth days.

Beans-Eleven and one-ninth days.

Coffee-Nineteen and one-third days.

Sugar-Fifty-seven and one-third days.

Or, with what is now on hand, at least thirty-five days of comfortable subsistence for the command, including the laundresses, who were sent away about two months ago.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully,


Second Lieutenant, First Artillery, A. A. C. S.


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Numbers 92.] FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 3, 1861.

(Received A. G. O., April 6.)

Colonel L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General U. S. Army:

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that we do not see them at work this morning. One of the guard-boats anchored at 8 o’clock last night (a schooner) about four hundred yards from the left shoulder angle of this work. She is still there.

The governor of South Carolina has not sent the permission alluded to yesterday, and to-day notice has been received that no butter can be sent down and only one quarter of a box of soap. These little matters indicate, perhaps, an intention to stop our supplies entirely. I must, therefore, most respectfully and urgently ask for instructions what I am to do as soon as my provisions are exhausted. Our bread will last four or five days.

Hoping that definite and full instructions will be sent to me immediately,

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,



Page 235

WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, D. C., April 4, 1861.


SIR: Your letter of the 1st instant occasions some anxiety to the President.

On the information of Captain Fox he had supposed you could hold out till the 15th instant without any great inconvenience; and had prepared an expedition to relieve you before that period.

Hoping still that you will be able to sustain yourself till the 11th or 12th instant, the expedition will go forward; and, finding your flag flying, will attempt to provision you, and, in case the effort is resisted, will endeavor also to re-enforce you. You will therefore hold out, if possible, till the arrival of the expedition.

It is not, however, the intention of the President to subject your command to any danger or hardship beyond what, in your judgment, would be usual in military life; and he has entire confidence that you will act as becomes a patriot and soldier, under all circumstances.

Whenever, if at all, in your judgment, to save yourself and command, a capitulation becomes a necessity, you are authorized to make it.




WAR DEPARTMENT, Washington, April 4, 1861.

Captain G. V. FOX, Washington, D. C.:

SIR: It having been decided to succor Fort Sumter you have been selected for this important duty. Accordingly you will take charge of the transports in New York having the troops and supplies on board to the entrance of Charleston Harbor, and endeavor, in the first instance, to deliver the subsistence. If you are opposed in this you are directed

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to report the fact to the senior naval officer of the harbor, who will be instructed by the Secretary of the Navy to use his entire force to open a passage, when you will, if possible, effect an entrance and place both troops and supplies in Fort Sumter. I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Secretary of War.


HEADQUARTERS OF THE ARMY, Washington, D. C., April 4, 1861.

Lieutenant Colonel HENRY L. SCOTT, A. D. C., New York:

SIR: This letter will be landed to you by Captain G. V. Fox, ex-officer of the Navy, and a gentleman of high standing, as well as possessed of extraordinary nautical ability. He is charged by high authority here with the command of an expedition, under cover of certain ships of war, whose object is to re-enforce Fort Sumter. To embark with Captain Fox you will cause a detachment of recruits, say about two hundred, to be immediately organized at Fort Columbus, with a competent number of officers, arms, ammunition, and subsistence. A large surplus of the latter-indeed, as great as the vessels of the expedition can take-with other necessaries, will be needed for the augmented garrison of Fort Sumter.

The subsistence and other supplies should be assorted like those which were provided by you and Captain Ward of the Navy for a former expedition. Consult Captain Fox and Major Eaton on the subject, and give all necessary orders in my name to fit out the expedition, except that the hiring of vessels will be left to others.

Some fuel must be shipped. Oil, artillery implements, fuses, cordage, slow-march, mechanical levers, and gins, &c., should also be put on board.

Consult, also, if necessary, confidentially, Colonel Tompkins and Major Thornton.

Respectfully, yours,


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