Skedaddle — the e-journal
January 11, 1861
New York Herald
(after the firing upon the Star of the West)…Lieut. Hall had an interview with Governor Pickens and was afterward escorted to his boat and re-embarked for Fort Sumter. The communication from Major Anderson is as follows:
MAJOR ANDERSON TO GOV. PICKENS
To His EXCELLENCY THE GOVERNOR OF SOUTH CAROLINA:
SIR — Two of your batteries fired this morning on an unarmed vessel bearing the flag of my government. As I have not been notified that war has been declared by South Carolina against the United States, I cannot but think this a hostile act, committed without your sanction or authority. Under that hope I refrain from opening fire on your batteries. I have the honor, therefore, respectfully to ask whether the abovementioned act—one which I believe without parallel in the history of our country or any other civilized government—was committed in obedience to your instructions and notify you, if it is not disclaimed, that I regard it as an act of war, and I shall not after reasonable time for the return of my messenger, permit any vessel to pass within the range of the guns of my fort.
In order to save, as far as it is in my power, the shedding of blood, I beg you will take due notification of my decision for the good of all concerned. Hoping, however, your answer may justify a further continuance of forbearance on my part, I remain, respectfully,
RESPONSE OF GOVERNOR PICKENS.
Governor Pickens, after stating the position of South Carolina to the United States, says that any attempt to send United States troops into Charleston harbor to reinforce the forts would be regarded as an act of hostility; and in conclusion adds that any attempt to reinforce the troops at Fort Sumter, or to retake and resume possession of the forts within the waters of South Carolina, which Major Anderson abandoned after spiking the cannon and doing other damages, cannot be regarded by the authorities of the State as indicative of any other purpose than the coercion of the State by the armed force of the government.
Special agents, therefore, have been off the bar to warn approaching vessels, armed and unarmed, having troops to reinforce Fort Sumter aboard, not to enter the harbor. Special orders have been given the commanders at the forts not to fire on such vessels until a shot across their bows should warn them of the prohibition of the State. Under these circumstances the Star of the West, it is understood, this morning attempted to enter the harbor with troops, after having been notified she could not enter, and consequently she was fired into. The act is perfectly justified by me.
In regard to your threat about vessels in the harbor, it is only necessary for me to say you must be the judge of your responsibility. Your position in the harbor has been tolerated by the authorities of the State, and while the act of which you complain is in perfect consistency with the rights and duties of the State, it is not perceived how far the conduct you propose to adopt can find a parallel in the history of any country, or be reconciled with any other purpose than that of your government imposing on the State the condition of a conquered province.
F. W. PICKENS.
FROM MAJOR ANDERSON.
SIR — I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of our communication, and say that, under the circumstances, I have deemed it proper to refer the whole matter to my government, and intend deferring the course I indicated in my note this morning until the arrival from Washington of such instructions as I may receive.
I have the honor also to express the hope that no obstructions will be place in the way, and that you will do me the favor of giving every facility for the departure and return of the bearer, Lieutenant T. Talbot, who is directed to make the journey.
Governor Pickens immediately granted the permission desired, and directed Lieutenant Talbot to have every facility and courtesy extended to him as bearer of despatches to the United States government, both in going and returning.
Lieutenant T. Talbot left Charleston late last night with despatches from Major Anderson to the President of the United States.
Lieut. Talbot goes to Washington for further instructions from the President. A party of gentlemen entertained him at the Charleston Hotel previous to his departure.
Our intelligence from Charleston, published yesterday, relative to the arrival of the steamer Star of the West in the harbor of Charleston, and her retreat when fired upon by the State batteries, is fully confirmed by later advises. The particulars of the affair are detailed in another column. The Star of the West was intercepted by a steamer in the service of South Carolina, but she gave not attention to her. The batteries were then signaled, and shots were fired across the bows of the Star of the West to bring her to; but she still proceeded on her course, until she was fired upon, and two or three shots struck her, when she put about and went to sea, and has not since been heard of. Major Anderson, during the forenoon of Wednesday, despatched Lieutenant Hall with a flag of truce to Charleston, where he delivered a communication from the Major to Governor Pickens, wherein he recapitulates the facts concerning the Star of the West and requests to know if the action of the State troops is authorized, and says that if such action is not disclaimed by the South Carolina authorities he will prevent the passage of all vessels to the city of Charleston. Governor Pickens replied that the reinforcement of the fort was regarded as an act of hostility to South Carolina, and that he approved of the attack upon the Star of the West. After some deliberation Major Anderson concluded to refer the subject to the federal authorities at Washington, and Lieutenant Talbott was sent to the capital with despatches.
The latest accounts from Charleston state that the city was in a furor of excitement in anticipation of the arrival of the sloop of war Brooklyn. The forts and batteries in possession of the State troops were actively preparing to beat her off. She will most assuredly be attacked should she venture within reach of their guns. It is stated that Major Anderson will not hesitate to open the batteries of Fort Sumter should the Brooklyn be attacked.
The authorities of South Carolina have taken possession of the steamer Marion for the service of the State.
From Louisiana we learn that all the State troops at New Orleans were under arms on Wednesday night, and that yesterday detachments left the city to seized the United States Arsenal at Baton Rouge, Forts Jackson and St. Philip, on the river below the city, and Fort Pike, on lake Ponchartrain. New regiments of troops were being organized, and the greatest excitement everywhere prevailed. During last summer the fortifications on the Mississippi river were put in thorough repair and armed with first class guns, and a full supply of ammunition put into their magazines. Between the Balize and the mouth of the Mississippi there are three or four of these works, which render the passage by the river impracticable to an enemy. There was a rumor in New Orleans that the Unites States steam gunboat Crusader was on her way up the river, but it was probably without foundation, as she was to leave Mobile bay on the 3d. inst. for her station off the coast of Cuba.
There is reason to believe that the authorities of Florida and Texas have by this time taken possession of the fortifications on their coasts.
From North Carolina we have intelligence of the seizure of Forts Johnson and Caswell, on the night of the 8th inst. by the State troops.
An important movement has been set on foot in the Virginia Legislature, with a view to the prevention of civil war. The House of Delegates yesterday adopted a resolution asking the President of the United States and the authorities of each of the Southern States, to the end that peace may be preserved, that the status quo of all movements tending to occasion collision, and concerning the forts and arsenals of the nation, shall be strictly maintained for the present, except to repel actual aggression.
From Alabama and Florida the reports are that these States will secede today.
The War News in the Federal City.—The Brooklyn and Harriet Lane Coming to Charleston.—Political Facts and Rumors. etc., etc., etc.
(FROM OUR OWN CORRESPONDENT)
WASHINGTON, December 10 — 4 p.m. — President BUCHANAN and Gen. SCOTT have both expressed their gratification, this morning, at the narrow escape of the Star of the West on the morning of the 9th from the batteries on Morris Island.
The general understanding is, that the Brooklyn will immediately go in search of the Star of the West, and will bring her into Norfolk, and that reinforcements will then be sent to Charleston under ample naval protection.
A large number of the Southern members still in Congress, called, in a body, on President BUCHANAN yesterday (Wednesday), and earnestly protested against sending any reinforcements, or any vessels of any kind to the South, unless the determined policy of the Administration was to provoke a bloody and disastrous civil war.
Gen SCOTT has gained entire control over the policy of the Administration. President BUCHANAN affects great surprise at the idea that the batteries in Charleston harbor should have opened fire upon the Star of the West yesterday morning.
The Constitution newspaper, of this morning published a letter from Vice President BRECKINRIDGE to the Governor of Kentucky, urging union among the Southern States as the only hope of escape from civil war.
WASHINGTON, January 10.—A telegraphic despatch from Charleston was received at the Navy Department, and was spoken of by Secretary TOUCEY in the Senate Chamber today. It was to the effect, that the Star of the West had anchored safely, and was discharging at Fort Sumter. The news elated the Republicans, but the Southern men would not believe it. Subsequent despatches turned the tables. The Republicans and the Administration were much mortified and disappointed at the result. A despatch from Hon. L.M. KEITT gave the particulars of the firing on the steamer, and satisfied the Southern men that the news of the safe arrival of the steamer was bogus…
A letter was included from ANDERSON in explanation, showing that he had orders to make the best defence, and concludes with saying that he intends to defend the District, and that the Union must be preserved.
North Carolina Takes Her Forts.
WILMINGTON, JANUARY 10.
The people here, in consequence of a despatch received from the Hon. W.S. ASHE, at Washington, directed to some of the Minute Men, and stating that the revenue cutter Forward, with fifty men and eight guns, under the command of Lieut. NONES, had left Wilmington, Del., for Fort Caswell, proceeded spontaneously in big boats to the mouth of Cape Fear river and took possession of the two forts, placing a strong force in each. They will resist the the last extremity any attempt to land Federal troops.
Diary of a Yankee in the Patent Office
by Horatio Nelson Taft
FRIDAY 11—Yesterdays Telegraphic news was incorrect as to Maj Anderson. The “Inteligencer” this morning publishes a letter from an ex-Congressman from the south exposing the treasonable proceedings at their Secret meetings of the Senators from the Cotton States now here. Yulee (brother of the Senator from Fla) in my room today said they were acting from patriotic motives. I denounced them as conspirators and traitors. Y “looked daggers” but was silent. Whitaker (from S.C.) looked blank. He is our 2nd assistant and is emphaticaly a “literary know nothing.” No particular news today. Treason is rife in the City, and we know not what a day may bring forth. A pretty cold day. M. about 20.
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