Who held the territory? Ft. Sumter was federally owned, but located in South Carolina in Charleston Harbor Major Robert Anderson was in control of the fort with federal (union) troops March 5, 1861 Confederate officials demanded Anderson surrender
Lincoln has one month to respond The fort has one month supply of food, with little way to be resupplied Lincoln’s advisors disagree about how to respond
Seward’s Advice If it were possible to peacefully provision Fort Sumter, of course I should answer that it would be both unwise and inhuman not to attempt it. But the facts of the case are known to be that the attempt must be made with the employment of military and marine force, which would provoke combat, and probably initiate a civil war, which the government of the United States would be committed to maintain through all changes to some definite conclusion.
Lincoln’s Decision Abandoning the fort would humiliate the president and make his administration incompetent Retreat was no guarantee of peace War was inevitable, so the Confederacy must be seen as the aggressors to unify the North
Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy Davis showed no weakness and demanded the surrender of Ft. Sumter via P.G.T. Beauregard, the commander of the local Confederate forces. Anderson (Sumter’s commander) was Beauregard’s teacher at West Point, and Beauregard was a star pupil.
4:30 am, April 12 th Confederate batteries open fire Civilians cheered
Mary Chestnut’s diary Not by one word or look can we detect any change in the demeanor of these Negro servants…profoundly indifferent. People talk of them as if they were chairs and tables. They make no sign. Are they solidly stupid? Or wiser than we are; silent and strong, biding their time?
After thirty four hours of shelling, Major Anderson raised a bedsheet on the flagstaff as a sign of surrender
Outcomes Only one fatality, a Union private killed accidentally after the surrender General Beauregard allowed the Union soldiers to march out under the Stars and Stripes, a sign of respect. Union soldiers were met in New York as heroes
Lincoln calls for 75,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion
Questions to consider What does the relationship between Anderson and Beauregard illustrate about this war? (Think Beat! Beat! Drums) How does the image of civilians observing the shelling explain expectations before the war truly begins? What does this first battle show about both sides willingness to engage violently? What does Mary Chestnut’s diary reveal?