« AnteriorContinuar »
slightest knowledge of the communications alleged, if they ever took place. It should also be definitely stated here, that Mr. Lincoln (whatever military or civil advisers may have imagined) never seriously entertained the purpose of peaceably and voluntarily abandoning any Government fortifications or property. Much less was he prepared to leave the gallant garrisons of Forts Sumter and Pickens to starvation or humiliating surrender. As early as the 18th of March, General Bragg, then in command of the Confederate forces at Pensacola, issued his order cutting off supplies of every kind from Fort Pickens as well as from the “armed vessels of the United States,” then in the harbor—a military step toward the reduction of the fort, in marked contrast with the pacific professions and affected good faith set forth in the Rebel document just quoted from. An intention of precipitating more active hostilities there was plainly indicated by the insurgents, and the necessity of decisive action on the part of the Government was apparent. A small fleet, of eight vessels, was got in readiness with all possible expedition, (including the two sloops-of-war, Pawnee and Powhatan, with transports carrying troops and supplies,) the first of which set sail from the Washington Navy-Yard on the 6th of April, and the remainder during the next three days. The orders were sealed, but the movement could not be altogether a secret. In fact, it seems to have been almost immediately known at the headquarters of secession in the South. While a portion of this fleet paused off Charleston harbor, the remainder saved Fort Pickens by a timely reinforcement. On the 7th of April, General Beauregard, at Charleston, followed his co-laborer at Pensacola, and issued an order, notice of which was sent to Major Anderson, prohibiting further intercourse between that fort and the city. This was another military step, backed by the rapid concentration of Rebel troops at Charleston, toward compelling the surrender of Fort Sumter. It left no course to the Government short of furnishing supplies to the garrison of that sea-girt fort. And how careful the President was, from the outset, to avoid, so far as was possible, every act that might even unwarrantably provoke a collision of arms,
is well illustrated in this instance. On the 8th of April—the day after Beauregard's hostile order—the President caused the parties interested at Charleston to be officially informed that provisions were to be dispatched to Major Anderson by an unarmed vessel. It is easy to see on which side the true pacific purpose lay. The act of war, commenced by firing on the Star of the West, in January, was renewed by Beauregard in the attempt to starve out Major Anderson. This renewal, again, was met by the mere effort to supply, in a peaceable way, the rations of a garrison that could not thus be abandoned. Beauregard at once communicated the movement, thus officially explained, to the Rebel Secretary of War, and, under special instructions, received April 10th, demanded, on the following day, the surrender of Fort Sumter—the indisputable property of the Federal Government, the right of domain and jurisdiction over which had been expressly and solemnly granted to that Government by the uncancelled vote of South Carolina herself. The demand was courteously refused. Major Anderson was again called on to name a time at which he would evacuate the fort, meanwhile committing no hostile act. That officer replied, on the 12th, that he would, “if provided with the proper and necessary means of transportation, evacuate Fort Sumter by noon on the 15th instant,” should he not “receive, prior to that time, controlling instructions” from the Government, “ or additional supplies.” To this eminently peaceful and reasonable proposition, the reply was returned that the commandant of “the provisional forces of the Confederate States” would open the fire of his batteries on Fort Sumter in one hour from the date of this “pacific” message, “April 12, 1861, 2:30 A.M.” This “Confederate” assurance accorded with the result. After enduring the long-continued fire of numerous batteries, Anderson and his garrison of seventy men were compelled to surrender the fort to Beauregard and his seven thousand rebels in arms. Thus began in dread earnest, by a clearly unwarrantable and unprovoked act, following repeated protestations of a desire for a “peaceable solution” of troubles resulting solely from the
constitutional election of a President, confessedly standing on
the same platform, in regard to special Southern interests, as Jefferson, and most of the founders of the Government, a civil war, designed to establish a new Government on the chief corner-stone of slavery, and to revolutionize the opinions of the civilized world in regard to that system. Whatever could be done to avert this final step, was patiently, kindly, sincerely done by Abraham Lincoln. All truthful history will record this of him, through all ages, to his lasting praise. No rough passion, no fretful impatience, no revengeful impulse, ever ruffled his spirit during all these days of suspense. But the gauntlet was at length thrown down, and no alternative was left but to meet force with force.
The Loyal Uprising.—The Border Slave States.—Summary of Events. Battle of Bull Run.
THE first effect of the fall of Fort Sumter was to silence, for the time, all opposition to the President in the Free States. One sentiment was uppermost in the minds of all loyal people— that of indignation at the authors of the war, now inaugurated at Charleston, mingled with the purpose of vindicating the National Flag, and of restoring the legitimate authority of the Government in all the States. Wherever a contrary feeling existed, the strong manifestations of popular enthusiasm for the Government caused such treachery to be carefully disguised. For once, the people of the Free States were a unit in action. The demand for vigorous preparation to protect the National Capital, and to suppress the insurrection, was universal. Simultaneously with this development of loyalty, Mr. Lincoln prepared his proclamation of April 15th, calling on the States for their several proportions of an army of seventyfive thousand men. He also, in the same paper, called an extra session of Congress, to commence on the 4th day of July following.
A like unanimity had been hoped by the conspirators in cvery Slave State. It was, perhaps, chiefly in order to produce this effect, that the responsibility of beginning the war was assumed by the Rebel leaders. As yet the seven States which had originally entered into the Confederacy at Montgomery had received no accessions from the eight remaining States, supposed to have a common interest with them, from a common peculiarity of institutions. On the very next day after that combination was entered into (February 9), the people of Tennessee had voted against secession, by a large majority. On the 1st day of March a similar vote had been taken in Missouri. On the 4th day of April, a secession ordinance had been rejected in the State Convention of Virginia, by a vote of 45 yeas and 89 nays. In Maryland, the firmness and earnest loyalty of Gov. Hicks had defeated all the schemes for assem. bling a convention in that State to consider the question of secession. Delaware had manifested a decided Union spirit, and the canvass on this question in Arkansas had thus far developed a strong disinclination to embark in the disunion scheme of Davis and his fellow-conspirators. In North Carolina and Kentucky, all the efforts to seduce the people into rebellion appeared to have been of little avail. Thus, with two tiers of Slave States extending from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, two west of the Mississippi, and the two north-east of Virginia, a majority of all, having many interests diverse from those of the Cotton States, now nominally confederated in the crimes of their leaders, the rebellion was manifestly doomed from the outset, if peace and the opportunity for calm deliberation were allowed. The rebels undoubtedly wished to avoid the lasting odium of bringing on a desolating and destructive civil war. They saw clearly, however, whither the quiet and pacific policy of the Administration was tending. Not another State would join the Secession movement, if that policy were permitted to continue. From the 1st day of February to the fall of Sumter— two months and a half—not a State had joined the movement, and two, on the immediate border of the Cotton States, had deliberately rejected the proposition, although the State Governments of both were in the hands of active Secessionists. The fatal blow—a necessity to the mad project in hand—was accordingly struck. The immediate object was to gain over the remaining Slave States, and naturally, as second only to the preparation for war, the course to be pursued by those States became an object of chief interest. The necessity of at once gaining over Virginia to the Secession side, in order to the prosecution of their plans, was now manifest to the leading conspirators at Montgomery and Richmond. The Convention of that State, as already seen, had