• The Battle of Fort Sumter ..
  • Reinforce Fort Pickens, evacuate Fort Sumter
  • Fort Pickens and the Outbreak of the Civil War

Fort Sumter is a sea fort in Charleston, South Carolina, notable for two battles of the American Civil War

"Reinforce Fort Pickens, evacuate Fort Sumter?" …

Fort Pickens, Florida, and Fort Sumter, which was garrisoned by U.S

coercive reinforcement of Fort Sumter or Fort Pickens might alienate the
This news struck Lincoln with a cold shock, as he put it to friends, as powerful as the one he felt when he learned of Major Anderson’s vulnerability just after the inauguration. For one thing, Fort Pickens was not as vulnerable as Fort Sumter, and was amply provisioned, and in fact he had ordered 200 more men into the fort just three weeks ago. Scott had never wanted to relieve Sumter, and had consistently advocated letting it go, but there was no military necessity to abandon Pickens, and Scott was clearly exceeding his authority as a military adviser in venturing a view on what was strictly a political question. As Lincoln knew, Scott often worked in tandem with Seward; was this some further manipulation by the famously clever secretary of state? But just taken at face value, the news was stunning. Even if giving up Pickens would win him the border states, it would lose him Charles Sumner, Zachariah Chandler, Ben Wade and most of the rest of the Republican party. And if giving up Sumter wasn’t going to get him Virginia, then what was the point of giving up Sumter?

Fort Pickens and Fort Jefferson - The Civil War

Perhaps visitors ought to have been impressed with his acting ability instead, for no one on hand who was not privy to the workings of the president’s mind could have surmised that at that moment, Lincoln could see that his policy was collapsing, and that he was being pushed into a choice between a modern Scylla and Charybdis, between one action that invited ruin (evacuating Fort Sumter) and another that threatened catastrophe (reinforcing it).


Battle of Fort Sumter in the American Civil War - …

At a meeting held just before the start of the state dinner mentioned above, the possibility of this swap becoming reality was bluntly debunked by General Scott. Surrendering Sumter won’t be enough, Scott told the president. We won’t be able to hold onto the eight remaining slaveholding states just by giving up Sumter. We’ll have to evacuate Fort Pickens in Pensacola, too. Only by such a gesture can we soothe and give confidence to the eight remaining slaveholding states. We can continue to display our resolve by holding on to Fort Taylor in Key West and Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas.

In the evening, Seward was visited by George Harrington, the assistant secretary of the treasury, who had just been at the White House, where he had seen Lincoln meeting with Blair, Fox and Navy Secretary Welles. The president has made up his mind, Harrington said. He’s decided to reinforce Fort Sumter. Fox has been ordered to prepare ships.

Learn about the Battle of Fort Sumter

They are all back now, and none brought good news. Late last week, the first of them, Gustavus Fox, brought the discouraging news that the situation at Fort Sumter was worse that had been reported: supplies were low, morale was lower and the armaments facing the fort were more formidable than had been advertised. This was not good news, but at least it seemed to dictate that capitulation was not a choice but a necessity. A couple of days later, the second emissary, Stephen Hurlbut, a Charleston native who had become friends with Lincoln after moving to Illinois, returned with his findings about any residual ardor for the union among Carolinians. There is none, Hurlbut reported.