At the conclusion of the Revolutionary War, America wanted all British military personnel out of American territory. What sovereign nation in its right mind would tolerate hostile military troops within its borders? Well, as it turns out, the Confederate State of South Carolina did just that for an incredibly long time. They did it because they did not want war. But Abraham Lincoln did.
The Confederate states had negotiated agreements for almost all federal facilities within their borders. But there were two remaining forts for which the North refused to negotiate. One was in Florida, and the other was Ft Sumter in South Carolina. Lincoln refused to meet with Southern negotiators, who offered a very reasonable settlement for Ft Sumter, including payment of the South's portion of the federal debt. Lincoln, meanwhile, was busy with his own schemes.
The Union officer in charge of collecting tariffs at Charleston Harbor was Major Robert Anderson, stationed at Ft Moultrie with 100 soldiers on Sullivan Island. On Christmas night, 1860 (just five days after South Carolina's secession on December 20), Anderson and his troops secretly moved to Ft Sumter and destroyed Ft Moultrie behind them. They set about strengthening Ft Sumter with additional cannon and munitions, all of which was strictly for defensive purposes, according to Anderson.
There was no retaliation by state officials, although South Carolinians resented the North's act of hostility. Because they did not want war, some supplies for the fort were made available by the state government, and Anderson was allowed to purchase groceries from local merchants. Anderson didn't want war, either, so for months the two sides managed to make the best of a tense situation, without gunshot or bloodshed.
However, bloodshed is exactly what Abraham Lincoln wanted and was determined to instigate. As early as December 12, 1860 (almost three months before his inauguration, and more than a week before South Carolina seceded) Lincoln was secretly instructing Winfield Scott, his General of the Army, to be prepared to hold Ft Sumter (or retake it, if it were in Southern hands by inauguration day.)
While Buchanan was still in office, he and Gen Scott were presented with a proposal concocted by Gustavus V Fox, a retired Union Navy captain. It was a simple plan, consisting of sending three tugboats into Charleston Harbor at nighttime with reinforcements and provisions. The plan was rejected. Once Lincoln was in office, the scheme resurfaced, and it was again rejected. Members of Lincoln's cabinet, his military advisors, and the officers at Ft Sumter overwhelmingly voted against the plan because they realized that it would likely provoke war. The Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, said that if Lincoln wanted war, that was the way to get it. Although Cameron didn't realize it yet, war was exactly what Lincoln wanted, and Ft Sumter is exactly how he planned to get it.
The almost unanimous opinion of his advisors and military leaders wasn't good enough for Lincoln. That was not the answer he wanted to hear. So he said he wanted more information about Anderson's command, and he sent an observer to Charleston to get it for him. That observer was Gustavus V Fox. Needless to say, Fox was pleased to tell Lincoln what he wanted to hear, and the scheme was approved. Only Lincoln wasn't satisfied with three tugboats on a simple resupply mission. He sent a war fleet.
Anderson was not told about the mission. He was as surprised as anyone in Charleston Harbor. And he wasn't at all happy about having been kept in the dark. He expressed that sentiment, and he let it be known that his heart was not in the war that was bound to follow, but of course as a Naval officer he had no choice but to make the best of it and follow orders.
The South was also forced to try to make the best of a very bad situation. As Lincoln's war fleet approached the harbor, Southerners opened fire on Ft Sumter on April 12, 1861. They knew they could not take on the fort's cannon fire and the fleet at the same time, so they decided to try to take out the fort first.
The war fleet did absolutely nothing to assist their besieged comrades in the fort. They, along with cannon fire from the fort, could easily have overpowered Southern forces at Charleston Bay, but they sat idly by and did nothing. Why? A newspaper article explains:
We have no doubt . . .that it was a cunningly devised scheme, contrived . . . to arouse, and, if possible, exasperate the northern people against the South . . . We venture to say a more gigantic conspiracy against the principles of human liberty and freedom has never been concocted. Who but a fiend could have thought of sacrificing the gallant Major Anderson and his little band in order to carry out a political game? Yet there he was compelled to stand for thirty six hours amid a torrent of fire and shell, while the fleet sent to assist him, coolly looked at his flag of distress and moved not to his assistance! Why did they not? . . .Pause then, and consider before you endorse these mad men who are now, under pretense of preserving the Union, doing the very thing that must forever divide it.
That article did not appear in a South Carolina newspaper, but in a Northern newspaper. It was articles like that which provoked Lincoln to tyrannical temper-tantrums. Northern newspapers were shut down and their editors were thrown in jail for not enthusiastically embracing Lincoln's evil schemes.
It's amazing that no one was killed in the brief battle of Ft Sumter. The only person in the nation who was disappointed with that was Abraham Lincoln. How much easier it would have been for him to whip Yankees into a frenzy if he could have declared in full self-righteous indignation that the South had spilled Northern blood. Still, he got what he wanted -- an excuse for war, and he was quite pleased with himself and his sidekick, as expressed by Honest Abe in this note to Gustavus Fox on May 1, 1861:
You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result.
It's easy to see why Yankees were driven to such lengths in manufacturing the CivilGate propaganda and mythology that is taught today in our public schools. No wonder they felt they had to concoct such fairytales as Honest Abe. They simply could not afford to have future generations of Americans know the truth about the character of Abraham Lincoln and the evil of his war. Ft Sumter is just one of countless dirty little secrets in the ugly truth of Lincoln's lies and his bloody war.
Learn more about the American Civil War here.