Skedaddle — the e-journal
January 9, 1861
New York Herald
The news from Washington is highly important. Mr. Thompson yesterday resigned his post as Secretary of the Interior. The despatch of reinforcements to Major Anderson at Fort Sumter by the Star of the West from New York is the cause of this step on the part of Mr. Thompson. It would seem that these reinforcements were sent forward without authority from the President. In fact, it is stated that the President directed the Secretary of War on Saturday to telegraph the commander of the Star of the West to land the troops at Norfolk or Fort Monroe, but the despatch did not reach New York until after the departure of the steamer for Fort Sumter.
The official confirmation of the report of the reinforcement of Major Anderson created intense excitement at the capital and the secessionists there immediately telegraphed to Charleston to sink the steamer if possible before she lands her troops. The act is regarded by the Southerners as a declaration of hostilities, and news of the inauguration of a blood civil war is looked for at any moment.
The brother of Major Anderson arrived in Washington from Fort Sumter yesterday, having been sent thither by the President to ascertain the state of affairs. He reports that Major Anderson has ample supplies, and is confident of being able to hold the fort against any force. He makes no requisition for reinforcements, leaving that matter to his superiors.
The government has chartered the steamer Joseph Whitney, at Boston, to convey troops and munitions of war to the forts on the Florida coast. She will sail on Saturday next.
Our Washington despatches state that news has reached there that the Mississippi State Convention yesterday adopted an ordinance providing for immediate secession from the Union. Our reports from Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, confirm this news, and state that the Committee on the Ordinance of Secession had adopted the ordinance unanimously, and that it will be adopted by the convention today.
The Florida State Convention on Monday adopted a resolution, by a vote of 62 to 5, declaring the right of States to withdraw from the Union, and that the existing causes are such as to compel Florida to proceed to exercise that right. It is reported that the Governor of Florida has taken possession of the forts and other federal property in that State.
A committee of the Virginia Legislature have prepared a bill providing for holding a State Convention. The election of delegates will be held on the 7th of February, and the convention will meet on the 18th of that month. Our correspondent at Richmond is of opinion that Virginia will secede from the Union about the 20th of February. In order to meet contingencies growing out of secession, the Legislature have before them a resolution appropriating ten millions of dollars in defence of the State.
One of the most important measures of the south, in connection with the secession movement, is developed in our Washington telegraphic correspondence. The State of Georgia has appointed a Commissioner to proceed, abroad, to obtain from foreign Powers the recognition of the seceding States as governments de facto. He will also be charged with the duty of negotiating a basis of credit and exchange, by which the cotton crop can be hypothecated in Europe and moved for joint account. But the most important duty of the Commissioner will be in regard to the question of revenue. If the federal government shall make arrangements to collect the revenue off Southern seaports, it is arranged that the cotton State will pronounce for free trade and direct taxation. They will proceed to raise the revenue for the South by direct taxation, giving notice to foreign governments that Southern ports are open to the importation of their merchandise free of duty, and that the imposition of duties by the United States government is unlawful and unauthorized. The question would, therefore, become a foreign one, and England and France will be left to decide between a Northern alliance and free trade with the South.
Interesting From Charleston.
We have learned, from information gathered from gentlemen recently arrived from the city of Charleston, some few later details relative to that part of South Carolina, which we believe will be interesting to most of our readers. People belonging to the city and State of New York, and in fact to the North generally, are not aware—or if they are, are not willing to admit the fact to their own minds let alone to others—that much are the preparations being made in the South as would preclude all chance of coercing the revolting States.
THE DEFENCES OF THE HARBOR.
Such measures have been adopted to prevent all vessels of an offensive character entering the harbor of Charleston that even those belonging to that city cannot get out without aid. All the buoys have been removed, and some, if not all of the beacons taken down. All lights are extinguished at night, except that upon fort Sumter, which, for the purpose of navigation, might as well be a hundred miles off, and the lightship has been withdrawn. From Cummin’s Point to the lighthouse, a distance of several miles, sandbank batteries have been erected and well manned, and vessels laden with paving stones and other heavy substances are placed at important points to sink, so that any vessels of an opposing character that might presume to prowl in would be stopped. If the Star of the West attempts to carry her living cargo to the help of Fort Sumter she will be at once sunk by the South Carolina troops stationed along the entrance of the harbor, as a determination exists among them not to allow of reinforcements arriving at that fort. Pilots have been firmly charged not to pilot vessels-of-war into the harbor, but no restrictions are placed upon vessels of commerce and trade. When the steamship Columbia was ready for sea, although she belonged to the city of Charleston, so completely had all marks of the channel been obliterated that it cost the sum of one hundred and fifty dollars to get her clear of the harbor. It was estimated that the value of the vessel and cargo, which consisted of cotton, rice, domestic produce, &c., was not less than $440,000, and yet this large amount was (held) up for some time, rather than allow chances for the vessels of the enemy to make their way up to the fort or the city.
Affairs at the Forts.
Up to one o’clock last night, when our reporter left the vicinity of Fort Sumter and Morris’s Island, all was quiet in our harbor. The guard boats were actively plying up and down the entrance, overhauling every unknown craft. The rumors that the Star of the West would make her appearance in our waters, kept the sentinels on the qui vive, and the cry of ‘All’s well!’ could be heard echoing over the waters from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter. At the latter post it is evident that the greatest vigilance is kept, and not even the smallest boat can approach the walls without the gruff hailing of the sentinels on the ramparts. In a former article upon the defences of Fort Sumter, we noticed the fact that the second tier of casemates had been walled up. We observed yesterday that the masonry closing two of these casemates, pointing towards Fort Moultrie, has been removed, the guns for those casemates being completely mounted.
No steamer has made her appearance up to the hour of our going to press. We shall take care to keep our citizens advised, through our bulletins, of her approach, if she should come.
Diary of a Yankee in the Patent Office
by Horatio Nelson Taft
WEDNESDAY 9—Mr Thompson has resigned and another day has passed in the greatest anxiety of all classes to hear from Charleston, but there is no news from there today. The City is arming for self-protection and some Companys of U S troops are expected tomorrow. Fires and Burglaries occur every night. I sleep with a loaded revolver within reach. Was an hour at Willards tonight. Everything quiet but men look anxious. Met Mr Butterfield M.C. and a number of other gentlemen, all looking for news.
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