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.


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