much depressed with the condition of affairs. At Charleston, I sought an interview with Captain Hartstein, formerly of the United States Navy, and to him I stated my desire to visit Major Anderson; not finding General Beauregard, he introduced me to Governor Pickens, to whom I showed the order under which I acted. After considerable delay, he directed Captain Hartstein to take me to Fort Sumter, and whilst the boat was preparing, I had an interview with General Beauregard. We reached Fort Sumter after dark, and remained about two hours. Major Anderson seemed to think it was too late to relieve the Fort by any other means than by landing an army on Morris Island. He agreed with General Scott that an entrance from the sea was impossible; but as we looked out upon the water from the parapet, it seemed very feasible, more especially as we heard the oars of a boat near the Fort, which the sentry hailed, but we could not see her through the darkness until she almost touched the landing. I found the garrison getting short of supplies, and it was agreed that I might report that the fifteenth of April, at noon, would be the period beyond which he could not hold the Fort unless supplies were furnished. I made no arrangements with Major Anderson for reenforcing or supplying the Fort, nor did I inform him of my plan. Upon my return, I had the honor to be called frequently before the President, and in the presence of different members of his cabinet, to answer the objections presented by Lieutenant-General Scott and the military authorities; but as my project simply involved passing batteries, with steamers or boats, at night, at right-angles to their line of fire, and one thousand three hundred yards distant, a feat of which the Crimean war furnished many safe examples, I maintained the proposition, and suggested that it was a naval plan, and should be decided by naval officers. The President asked me if there was any naval officer of high authority in Washington who would sustain me, and if so, to bring him to the White House. I knew that Commodore Stringham was at that time filling the position of detailing officer in the Navy Department, and I took him to the President, where, in the presence of Lieutenant-General Scott, he not only confirmed my views, but said that he had that morning held a conversation with Commodore Stewart, who declared that Fort Sumter could easily be reinforced and provisioned with boats at night. As valuable time was being lost by discussions, which form no part of this narrative, I represented that so important an expedition required time for its preparation, and that I ought to be allowed to take the preparatory steps, if there was any possibility of sending it out. On the thirtieth of March, the President sent me to New-York with verbal instructions to prepare for the voyage, but to make no binding engagements. After consultation with George W. Blunt, Esq., who throughout had been of great assistance to me with his advice and active cooperation, I met, by previous arrangement, Messrs. William H. Aspinwall and Charles H. Marshall, for the purpose of making with them preliminary arrangements for the voyage. Mr. Marshall declined to aid me, upon the ground that the attempt to relieve Fort Sumter would kill the proposed loan and bring on civil war, and that the people had made up their minds to abandon Sumter, and make the stand upon Fort Pickens. On the second of April, I had not received the written authority which I expected from the Government, therefore I returned to Washington. Delays, which belong to the secret history of this period, prevented a decision until the afternoon of the fourth of April, when the President sent for me, and said that he had decided to let the expedition go, and that a messenger from himself would be sent to the authorities of Charleston, before I could possibly get there, to notify them that no troops would be thrown into Sumter if provisions were allowed peacefully to be sent to the garrison. I mentioned to the President that, by the time I should arrive at New-York, I would have but nine days in which to charter and provision the vessels, and reach the destined point, six hundred and thirty-two miles distant. He answered: I should best fulfil my duty to my country to make the attempt. The Secretary of the Navy had in commission, in the Atlantic waters of the United States, only the Powhatan, the Pocahontas, and Pawnee; all these he placed at my disposal, as well as the revenue steamer Harriet Lane, and directed me to give all the necessary orders. The Powhatan, which had recently returned and gone out of commission, was added to the force I designated, to enable me to have her fine boats and crew for landing the supplies. I suggested to the Secretary of the Navy to place Commodore Stringham in command of the naval force, but upon consulting with that distinguished officer, he considered it to be too late to be successful, and likely to ruin the reputation of the officer who undertook it then. I arrived at New-York on the fifth of April, engaged the steamer Baltic of Mr. Aspinwall, who used every possible exertion to get her ready for sea, and delivered confidential orders, embracing all my wants, to Colonel H. L. Scott, aid to the General in Chief, and Colonel D. D. Tompkins, Quartermaster. Colonel Scott ridiculed the idea of Government relieving Fort Sumter, and by his indifference and delay, half a day of precious time was lost. The recruits that he finally furnished to me were totally unfit to be thrown into a fort likely to be attacked by the rebels. I placed the hiring of three tugs in the hands of Russell Sturges, who labored very energetically, but he found great difficulty in obtaining from the owners, tugs to go to sea. Finally, three were promised at exorbitant rates, namely,
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Foreign accounts of the fight.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.
An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.