Shifting the responsibility

War of the Rebellion: Serial 001 Page 0241 Chapter I. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC.-UNION.

FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 4, 1861.


First Artillery, U. S. Army, Commanding Fort Sumter:

MAJOR: In compliance with your directions, I went, under a flag of truce, to the city of Charleston, in company with Captain Talbot, and had an interview with Governor Pickens and General Beauregard. In the interview with the governor, Captain Talbot only being present, I stated all the circumstances connected with the visits of Captain Seymour and myself to Cummings Point and the schooner Rhoda H. Shannon, which had been fired into by the batteries on Morris Island, on the 3rd instant. I called his attention to the fact that he had not complied with his own proposition, to warn all vessels bearing the United States flag not to enter the harbor. The governor replied that he and General Beauregard, with their staff officers, were standing on the piazza of the Moultrie House, on Sullivan’s Island, and saw the whole affair, and

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that my statement corroborated entirely his own personal observation, although it different slightly from the report of Colonel De Saussure, the commanding officer on Morris Island. The governor said that the commander of the vessel whose duty it was to warn vessels not to enter the harbor had left his post, and had reported that the weather was too boisterous and the sea too rough for him to go out to the schooner Shannon; that this commander had already been sent for, and would be dismissed; that the commander of the cutter would be reprimanded for not going out and examining whether the Shannon were disabled; and that peremptory orders had been sent to Morris Island to stop this random firing.

The governor also said that if Major Anderson deemed it his duty to send out, under unfavorable circumstances, and examine the condition of the schooner Shannon, it was doubly theirs, imposed by humanity, and also by the commercial interest of their harbor.

General Beauregard was invited in, and I repeated what I had said to Governor Pickens to him. The general replied in the same terms as the governor, adding that the practice firing on Morris Island would take place at particular hours.

There was an objection made to Captain Talbot leaving Fort Sumter for Washington, but this was finally overruled and the captain allowed to depart. The governor said that orders had been received from Mountgomery not to allow any man in the ranks, or any laborers, to leave Fort Sumter, and not to allow Major Anderson to obtain supplies in Charleston; that Mr. Crawford, a commissioner from the Confederate States, now in Washington, had sent a dispatch to him stating that he was authorized to say that no attempt would be made to re-enforce Fort Sumter with men or provisions, but that Mr. Lincoln would not order Major Anderson to withdraw from Fort Sumter, and would leave him to act for himself; also, advising the governor not to allow any supplies to be sent from the city to Fort Sumter.

I called the attention of both General Beauregard and Governor Pickens to the schooner lying near the left flank of Fort Sumter. They said they knew nothing of her, but would send and ascertain, and direct her to move further from the fort. Governor Pickens remarked that as they were now acting under the authority of the Confederate States he had consulted with General Beauregard, who was now in command of the troops stationed here.

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


First Lieutenant of Engineers, U. S. Army.

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FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 5, 1861.

General JOS. G. TOTTEN,

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

GENERAL: I wrote yesterday by Captain Talbot, who left here at 12 m., as bearer of dispatches from Major Anderson to the Government. Lieutenant Snyder accompanied him to the city as bearer of a communication to the governor and General Beauregard, relating to the firing upon the schooner Rhoda H. Shannon, and to the presence of the revenue cutter so near the walls of this fort. The result of this mission, so far as I understand it, is this: First, Captain Talbot, after some consultation, was permitted by the authorities to proceed to Washington. Second, it was stated that no Engineer employe or enlisted man would

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be permitted to leave the fort until the command was withdrawn, in consequence of a dispatch from Commissioner Crawford, at Washington, to the effect that “I am authorized to say that this Government will not undertake to supply Fort Sumter without notice to you [Governor Pickens]. My opinion is that the President has not the courage to execute the order agreed on in Cabinet for the evacuation of the fort, but that he intends to shift the responsibility upon Major Anderson by suffering him to be starved out”; and that no more supplies for the fort could come from the city. Third, that more stringent orders would be given to regulate the firing from the batteries and to restrict random firing, not, however, changing in the least the order to fire on any vessel attempting to force her way in after being warned off. Fourth, disclaiming any knowledge of the revenue cutter so near the walls, and expressing a determination to investigate the subject.

In returning from the city Lieutenant Snyder called for the mail at Fort Johnson, where he also took on board a small supply of beef and cabbages, which had come from the city the day before, too late for our boat. Soon after the return of the boat from town, the cutter moved her anchorage to a position about four hundred yards from the left shoulder angle. My force is now at work putting up splinter-proof traverses on the terre-plein.

My supplies of provisions that I laid in before the commencement of the investment were yesterday reduced to one half-barrel of cornmeal, one-seventh barrel of grits, and eleven codfish. Everything else that is necessary for the support of the Engineer force is drawn from the scanty stores of the command.

There appears to be no unusual activity in the surrounding batteries, owing, perhaps, to a high wind which has prevailed for three days.

I inclose a sketch of the batteries and number of guns, based upon the observations of Lieutenant Snyder. Captain Talbot can give you any detailed information that may be required.

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


Captain, Engineers.


So we see it is believed that “Honest Abe” Lincoln is trying to shift the blame to Anderson and his men.


Let Me Try to Unbemuse You too

Al Mackey in his blog Student of the American Civil War at discusses the Confederacy’s constitution regarding slavery. Her and the usual crowd of Confederacy bashers point out the points of the Confederate Constitution dealing with slavery. Mackey points out Section 9 of the Confederate Constitution which states:

Section 9
The importation of negroes of the African race from any foreign country other than the slaveholding States or Territories of the United States of America, is hereby forbidden; and Congress is required to pass such laws as shall effectually prevent the same.

That portion of the CSA constitution simply bans the importation of African slaves. What Mackey fails to point out is the US Constitution says this

Section 9

1: The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
glossing over the fact that

It says in plain English the importation of slaves is banned unless you pay a tax of ten bucks.

So Mackey fails to explain how the CSA Constitution is more proslavery than the US Constitution.

Now we can simply look at the facts during the war slaves of the loyal slave owners were not freed under the emancipation Proclamation and West Virginia came into the Union as a slave state. These two facts sorta says it all doesn’t it???? Now you know more than Mackey was willing to tell.

This is an incident I have never read about . It did cause some friction between the Federal government and The Confederate government it did not start the war.


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


Numbers 93.] FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 4, 1861.

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

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

COLONEL: I have the honor to send herewith a report of the circumstances attending a firing yesterday afternoon by the batteries on Morris Island at a schooner bearing our flag, bound from Boston to Savan-

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nah, which, erroneously mistaking the light-house off this harbor for that of Tybee, and having failed to get a pilot, was entering the harbor.

The remarks made to me by Colonel Lamon, taken in connection with the tenor of newspaper articles, have induced me, as stated in previous communications, to believe that orders would soon be issued for my abandoning this work. When the firing commenced some of my heaviest guns were concealed from their view by planking, and by the time the battery was ready the firing had ceased. I then, action in strict accordance with the spirit and wording of the orders of the War Department, as communicated to me in the letter from the Secretary of War dated February 23, 1861, determined not to commence firing until I had sent to the vessel and investigated the circumstances.

The accompanying report presents them. Invested by a force so superior that a collision would, in all probability, terminate in the destruction of our force before relief could reach us, with only a few days’ provisions on hand, and with a scanty supply of ammunition, as will be seen by a reference to my letter of February 27, in hourly expectation of receiving definite instructions from the War Department, and with orders so explicit and peremptory as those I am acting under, I deeply regret that I did not feel myself at liberty to resent the insult thus offered to the flag of my beloved country.

I think that proper notification should be given to our merchant vessels of the rigid instructions under which the commanders of these batteries are acting; that they should be notified that they must, as soon as a shot is fired ahead of them, at once round to and communicate with the batteries.

The authorities here are certainly blamable for not having constantly vessels off to communicate instructions to those seeking entrance into this harbor.

Captain Talbot is relieved, of course, by order Numbers 7, from duty at this post. I avail myself of this opportunity of stating that he has been zealous, intelligent, and active in the discharge of all his duties here, so far as his health permitted him to attempt their performance. I send him on with these dispatches, to give the department an opportunity, if deemed proper, to modify, in consequence of this unfortunate affair, any order they may have sent to me. I will delay obedience thereto until I have time to receive a telegram after Captain Talbot’s having reported to the War Department.

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


Major, First Artillery, Commanding.



FORT SUMTER, April 3, 1861.

Major ROBERT ANDERSON, First Artillery, U. S. Army,

Commanding Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor:

MAJOR: In obedience to your directions, we visited Cummmings Point and the schooner, bearing the United States flag, which was fired into by the batteries on Morris Island, and respectfully present the following statement concerning the affair:

The commanding officer on Morris Island, Lieutenant Colonel W. G. DeSaussure, stated that a schooner with the United States flag at her peak endeavored to enter the harbor this afternoon about 3 o’clock; that in accordance with his orders to prevent any vessel under that flag from entering the harbor, he had fired three shots across her bows, and this not

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causing her to heave to, he had fired at her, and had driven her out of the harbor; that the thought one or two shots had taken effect, and that if he had a boat that could live to get out to her he would send and see if she were disabled, and inform Major Anderson at once, but that he had no proper boat, as the schooner was at anchor in a very rough place; that the revenue cutter had gone out to examine her condition. We ascertained the schooner to be the Rhoda H. Shannon, Joseph Marts, master, of Dorchester, N. J., bound from Boston to Savannah with a charge of ice, having left the former place on March 26. On account of unfavorable weather, the master had obtained but one observation, and that was an imperfect one on yesterday. On his arrival off Charleston Bar, supposing himself to be off Tybee, and seeing a pilot-boat, he directed one of his men to hold the United States flag in the fore rigging as a signal for a pilot. As none came, the flag was taken down in a few minutes, and the master undertook to bring his vessel into the harbor without a pilot. He did not discover that he was not in Savannah Harbor until he had crossed the bar and had advanced some distance in the harbor. As he was passing Morris Island, displaying no flag, a shot was fired from a battery on shore across the bows of the schooner. The master states that he thought they wished him to show his colors, and that he displayed the United States flag at his peak. One or two shots were then fired across the schooner’s bows, but he did not know what to do or what the people on shore wished him to do; that he kept the vessel on her course until they fired at her, and one shot had gone through the mainsail, about two feet above the boom, when he put her about and stood out to sea, anchoring his vessel in the Swash Channel, just inside of the bar; that the batteries kept on firing at his vessel for some time after he had turned to go out to sea.

The master of the schooner stated that before leaving Boston, he had learned how affairs stood in Charleston Harbor, and that Fort Sumter was to be given up in a few days; that they had established a new confederacy down South.

After satisfying ourselves that the vessel was uninjured, and as she was lying in a very rough place, we advised the master to move his vessel-either to stand out to sea and go on to Savannah, or to come into the harbor and anchor.

On our return we stopped at Cummings Point, and stated the facts to Lieutenant-Colonel De Saussure. He said that the vessel would not be molested if she came into the harbor.

The schooner weighed anchor a short time after we left, and stood in towards Morris Island for some distance, but finally turned about and went to sea.

Respectfully submitted.


Captain, First Artillery.


FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 4, 1861.

His Excellency Governor PICKENS, Charleston, S. C.:

GOVERNOR: I have the honor respectfully to request that you will be pleased to issue such instructions as will enable Bvt. Captain Talbot, recently promoted, to report himself at Washington City, in compliance with orders he has received.

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Lieutenant Snyder is directed to give your excellency a detail of the statement made to him yesterday by the captain of the schooner which was fired upon by the batteries on Morris Island. I regret very much that there were no boats to warn her, or to give her instructions as to the course of conduct she would have to pursue in entering the harbor, and I regret, too, that the firing was continued after she had turned and was attempting to leave the harbor. Believing that the fortunate issue of this affair, without injury or loss of life, was providential, and still hoping that God will so direct the counsels of all in authority that we shall soon be relieved from our unpleasant position,

I have the honor to remain, with sincere regard, your obedient servant,


Major, U. S. Army, Commanding.
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FORT SUMTER, S. C., April 4, 1861.

General JOS. G. TOTTEN,

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

GENERAL: The permit for my men* to leave did not arrive yesterday, and I have put them at work again until it does arrive.

Yesterday, at about 2 o’clock, the batteries on Morris Island commenced firing at a schooner that was entering the harbor when she was about up with the channel buoy (channel buoy Numbers 3, Coast Survey Chart of 1858), or about one mile from this fort.

The first shots were fired in front of her, and the subsequent ones directly at her. The schooner hoisted the American flag. After receiving a few shots the turned about to run out through the Swash Channel. After a few more shots she lowered the American flag, but stood on her course until nearly or quite out of range of the guns of the batteries, when she came to and anchored. The batteries on Morris Island continued firing at her-at least, one of them did-until she anchored. Major Anderson sent a boat with Captain Seymour and Lieutenant Snyder to ask the reasons for the firing from the commanding officer on Merris Island, and also to obtain permission to board the vessel and ascertain her condition, object of visit, &c.

The main points of the reports of these officers upon their return were, that the officer in command of Morris Island, Colonel Wilmot De Saussure, acted by orders from his Government, one of which was to force a vessel to show her colors by firing across her bows, and another to fire on any vessel attempting to enter with the American flag flying.

The vessel was ascertained to be the Rhoda H. Shannon, from Boston to Savannah, loaded with ice. She was a schooner of 180 tons burden.

Her captain was an ignorant man, and, owing to thick weather and making a mistake in his reckoning, mistook this harbor for the one to which he was bound. He did not know what they wanted him to do.

None of the shots struck his vessel, and only one struck anything about the vessel, and that passed through one of his sails, about two feet above the boom.

I obtained more important information through Lieutenant Snyder of the channel batteries than I possessed before.

In the short time before this letter is to go I can only say that all the

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guns on the channel side, commencing with Numbers 4, inclusive, are en barbette, although well protected from our fire, and also from flank fire, by high traverses. From Numbers 4 to Numbers 7, inclusive, 17 guns were seen, apparently very heavy, most of them.

Captain T. Talbot goes to Washington with dispatches. No supplies came from the city yesterday.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain, Engineers.

P. S.-The revenue cutter still lies off the left shoulder angle, and during the firing ran up the Confederate flag and kept it flying.