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Chapter 6:

  • Character of Abraham Lincoln in history.
  • -- absurd panegyric. -- the personal and political life of the New President. -- his journey to Washington. -- his speech at Philadelphia. -- the flight from Harrisburg. -- alarm in Washington. -- military display in the capital. -- ceremony of inauguration. -- criticism of Lincoln's address. -- what the Republican party thought of it. -- serious pause at Washington. -- statement of Horace Greeley. -- how the inaugural address was received in the seceded States. -- visit of Confederate commissioners to Washington. -- Seward's pledge to Judge Campbell. -- the commissioners deceived. -- military and naval expeditions from New York. -- consultation of the Cabinet on the Sumter question. -- Capt. Fox's visit to Charleston. -- his project. -- objections of Gen. Scott. -- singular article in a New York journal. -- Lincoln's hesitation. -- his final device. -- Seward's game with the commissioners. -- the reduction of Fort Sumter. -- description of the Confederate works for the reduction of Sumter. -- Beauregard demands the surrender of the Fort. -- the bombardment. -- the Fort on fire. -- the Federal fleet takes no part in the fight. -- the surrender. -- great excitement in the North. -- its true meaning. -- the crusade against the South. -- Dr. Tyng's exhortation. -- conduct of Northern Democrats. -- Dickinson, Everett, and Cochrane. -- President Lincoln's proclamation. -- his pacific protests to the Virginia commissioners. -- Secession of Virginia. -- discontent in the Western counties. -- second secessionary movement of the Southern States. -- violent acts of the Washington Administration.Preparations of the Confederate Government for war. -- rush of volunteers to arms.President Davis' estimate of the military necessity. -- removal of the seat of Government to Richmond. -- activity of Virginia. -- Robert E. Lee. -- his attachment to the Union. -- why he joined the Confederate cause. -- his speech in the State House at Richmond. -- his organization of the military force of Virginia. -- military council in Richmond. -- the early reputation of Lee

A large portion of the Northern people have a custom of apotheosis, at least so far as to designate certain of their public men, to question whose reputation is considered bold assumption, if not sacrilegious daring. But the maxim of de mortuis nil nisi bonum does not apply to history. The character of Abraham Lincoln belongs to history as fully as that of the meanest agent in human affairs; and his own declaration, on one occasion, [101] that he did not expect to “escape” it is sure to be verified, now oz hereafter.

We have already stated that Mr. Lincoln was not elected President of the United States for any commanding fame, or for any known merit as a statesman. His panegyrists, although they could not assert for him a guiding intellect or profound scholarship, claimed for him some homely and substantial virtues. It was said that he was transparently honest. But his honesty was rather that facile disposition that readily took impressions from whatever was urged on it. It was said that he was excessively amiable. But his amiability was animal. It is small merit to have a Falstaffian humour in one's blood. Abraham Lincoln was neither kind nor cruel, in the proper sense of these words, simply because he was destitute of the higher order of sensibilities.

His appearance corresponded to his rough life and uncultivated mind. His figure was tall and gaunt-looking; his shoulders were inclined forward; his arms of unusual length; and his gait astride, rapid and shuffling. The savage wits in the Southern newspapers had no other name for him than “the Illinois Ape.”

The new President of the United States was the product of that partizanship which often discovers its most “available” candidates among obscure men, with slight political records, and of that infamous demagogueism in America that is pleased with the low and vulgar antecedents of its public men, and enjoys the imagination of similar elevation for each one of its own class in society. Mr. Lincoln had formerly served, without distinction, in Congress. But among his titles to American popularity were the circumstances that in earlier life he had rowed a flat-boat down the Mississippi; afterwards been a miller; and at another period had earned his living by splitting rails in a county of Illinois. When he was first named for the Presidency, an enthusiastic admirer had presented to the State Convention of Illinois two old fence-rails, gaily decorated with flags and ribbons, and bearing the following inscription: “Abraham Lincoln, the Rail Candidate for President in 1860.-Two rails from a lot of 3,000, made in 1830, by Thos. Hanks and Abe Lincoln.” The incident is not mentioned for amusement: it is a suggestive illustration of the vulgar and silly devices in an American election.

Since the announcement of his election, Mr. Lincoln had remained very retired and studiously silent in his home at Springfield, Illinois. Expectations were raised by the mystery of this silence; his panegyrists declared that it was the indication of a thoughtful wisdom pondering the grave concerns of the country, and likely to announce at last some novel and profound solution of existing difficulties; and so credulous are all men in a time of anxiety and embarrassment, and so eager to catch at hopes, that these fulsome prophecies of the result of Mr. Lincoln's meditations actually [102] impressed the country, which awaited with impatience the opening of the oracle's lips.

Never was a disappointment so ludicrous. No sooner did Mr. Lincoln leave his home on his official journey to Washington, than he became profuse of speech, entertaining the crowd, that at different points of the railroad watched his progress to the capital, with a peculiar style of stump oratory, in which his Western phraseology, jests, and comic displays amused the whole country in the midst of a great public anxiety. He was reported to have been for months nursing a masterly wisdom at Springfield; he was approaching the capital on an occasion and in circumstances the most imposing in American history; and yet he had no better counsels to offer to the distressed country than to recommend his hearers to “keep cool,” and to assure them in his peculiar rhetoric and grammar that “nobody was hurt,” and that there was “nothing going wrong.” The new President brought with him the buffoonery and habits of a demagogue of the back-woods. He amused a crowd by calling up to the speaker's stand a woman, who had recommended him to grow whiskers on his face, and kissing her in public; he measured heights with the tall men he encountered in his public receptions; and, as part of the ceremony of the inauguration at Washington, he insisted upon kissing the thirty-four young women who, in striped colours and spangled dresses, represented in the procession the thirty-four States of the Union. These incidents are not improperly recorded: they are not trivial in connection with a historical name, and with reference to an occasion the most important in American annals.

At Philadelphia, where Mr. Lincoln was required to assist in raising a United States flag over Independence Hall, he was more serious in his speech than on any former occasion in his journey. In his address was this language: “that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave Liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but. I hope, to the world for all future time. It was that which gave promise that, in due time, the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men.” These words were supposed to be aimed at the institution of negro slavery in the South. With reference to them a Baltimore newspaper said: “Mr. Lincoln, the President elect of the United States, will arrive in this city, with his suite, this afternoon by special train from Harrisburg, and will proceed, we learn, directly to Washington. It is to be hoped that no opportunity will be afforded him-or that, if it be afforded, he will not embrace it-to repeat in our midst the sentiments which he is reported to have expressed yesterday in Philadelphia.” This newspaper paragraph and some other circumstances equally trivial were made the occasion of an alarm that the new President was to be assassinated in Baltimore, or on his way to that city. The alarm was communicated to Mr. Lincoln himself. He was in [103] bed at the time in Harrisburg. lie at once determined to leave by a special train direct to Washington. Not satisfied with thus avoiding Baltimore, his alarm took the most unusual precautions. The telegraph wires were put beyond the reach of any one who might desire to use them. His departure was kept a profound secret. His person was disguised in a very long military cloak; a Scotch plaid cap was put on his head; and t1:,us curiously attired, the President of the United States made his advent to Washington. “Had he,” said the Baltimore Sun, “entered Willard's Hotel with a ‘ head-spring ’ and a ‘ summersault ’ and the clown's merry greeting to Gen. Scott, ‘ Here we are,’ the country could not have been more surprised at the exhibition.” 1

Mr. Lincoln's nervous alarm for his personal safety did not subside with his arrival in Washington. General Scott, who was in military command there, had already collected in the capital more than six hundred regular troops, and had called out the District militia, to resist an attempt which would be made by an armed force to prevent the inauguration of President Lincoln and to seize the public property. He insisted upon this imagination; he pretended violent alarm; he had evidently made up his mind for a military drama, and the display of himself on the occasion of Mr. Lincoln's inauguration. His vanity was foolish. A committee of the House of Representatives investigated the causes of alarm, heard the General himself, and decided that his apprehensions were unfounded. But he would not be quieted. He communicated his fears to Mr. Lincoln to such effect, that for some time before and after his inauguration soldiers were placed at his gate, and the grand reception-room of the White House was converted into quarters for troops from Kansas, who, under the command of the notorious Jim Lane, had volunteered to guard the chamber of the President.

Inauguration-day passed peacefully and quietly, but was attended by an extraordinary military display. Troops were stationed in different parts of the city; sentinels were posted on the tops of the highest houses and other eminences; the President moved to the Capitol in a hollow square of cavalry; and from the East portico delivered his inaugural address with a row of bayonets standing between him and his audience.

The address was such an attempt at ambidexterity as might be expected from an embarrassed and ill-educated man. It was a singular mixture. The new President said he was strongly in favour of the maintenance [104] of the Union and was opposed to Secession; but he was equally against the principle of coercion, provided the rights of the United States government were not interfered with. He gave a quasi pledge not to appoint Federal officers for communities unanimously hostile to the authority of the Union; he appeared to proceed on the supposition that the South had only to be disabused of her impressions and apprehensions of Northern hostility; in one breath he exclaimed: “we are not enemies but friends ;” in another he made the following significant declaration:

The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government, and collect the duties and imposts; but, beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere.

The address was variously received, according to the political opinions of the country, and made decided friends in no quarter. Mr. Lincoln's own party was displeased with it; and the Republican newspapers declared that its tone was deprecatory and even apologetic. The Northern Democrats had no violent disapproval to express. The Border Slave States, which yet remained in the Union, were undetermined as to its meaning, but regarded it with suspicion. In fact it was with reference to these that Mr. Lincoln was embarrassed, if he was not actually at this time balancing between peace and war. If coercion was attempted towards the seceded States, the Border Slave States would go out of the Union, and the country would be lost. If a pacific policy was adopted, the Chicago platform would go to pieces, and the Black Republican party would be broken into fragments.

There is reason to believe that for some weeks after Mr. Lincoln's inauguration there was a serious pause in his mind on the question of peace or war. His new Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, at the New England Dinner in New York, had confidently predicted a settlement of all the troubles “within sixty days” --a phrase, by the way, that was to be frequently repeated in the course of four long years. Mr. Horace Greeley testifies that on visiting Washington some two weeks or more after Mr. Lincoln's inauguration, he was “surprised to see and hear on every hand what were to him convincing proofs that an early collision with the “Confederates” was not seriously apprehended in the highest quarters.” If there was really an interval of indecision in the first days of Mr. Lincoln's administration, it was rapidly overcome by partisan influences, for his apparent vacillation was producing disaffection in the Black Republican party, and the clamour of their disappointment was plainly heard in Washington.

In the seceded States the inaugural address had been interpreted as a menace of war. This interpretation was confirmed by other circumstances [105] than the text of Mr. Lincoln's speech. In every department of the public service there had been placed by the new President violent abolitionists and men whose hatred of the South was notorious and unrelenting. The Pennsylvanian, a newspaper published in Philadelphia, said: “Mr. Lincoln stands to-day where he stood on the 6th of November last, on the Chicago Platform. He has not receded a single hair's breadth. He has appointed a Cabinet in which there is no slaveholder — a thing that has never before happened since the formation of the Government; and in which there are but two nominally Southern men, and both bitter Black Republicans of the radical dye. Let the Border States ignominiously submit to the Abolition rule of this Lincoln Administration, if they like; but don't let the miserable submissionists pretend to be deceived. Make any base or cowardly excuse but this.”

But whatever may have been the just apprehensions of the Confederate Government at Montgomery, it exhibited no violent or tumultuous spirit, and made the most sedulous efforts to resist the consequence of war. There can be no doubt of the sincerity and zeal of its efforts to effect a peaceable secession, and to avoid a war which it officially deplored as “a policy detrimental to the civilized world.”

As early as February, prior even to the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, the Confederate Congress had passed a resolution expressive of their desire for the appointment of commissioners to be sent to the Government of the United States, “for the purpose of negotiating friendly relations between that government and the Confederate States of America, and for the settlement of all questions of disagreement between the two governments upon principles of right, justice, equity, and good faith.”

In pursuance of this resolution, and in furtherance of his own views, Mr. Davis deputed an embassy of commissioners to Washington, authorized to negotiate for the removal of the Federal garrisons from Forts Pickens and Sumter, and to provide for the settlement of all claims of public property arising out of the separation of the States from the Union. Two of the commissioners, Martin Crawford of Georgia, and John Forsythe of Alabama, attended in Washington, arriving there on the 5th of March. They gave only an informal notice of their arrival, with a view to afford time to the President, who had just been inaugurated, for the discharge of other pressing official duties in the organization of his administration, before engaging his attention in the object of their mission. On the 12th of March, they addressed an official communication to Mr. Seward, Secretary of State, explaining the functions of the embassy and its purposes.

Mr. Seward declined to make any official recognition of the commissioners, but very readily consented, for purposes which the sequel demonstrated, to hold verbal conferences with them, through the friendly inter [106] mediation of Judge Campbell of Alabama. Through this gentleman, the commissioners, who had consented to waive all questions of form, received constant assurances from the Government of the United States of peaceful intentions, of the determination to evacuate Fort Sumter; and further that no measures, changing the existing status, prejudicially to the Confederate States, especially at Fort Pickens, were in contemplation; but that, in the event of any change of intention on the subject, notice would be given to the commissioners.

It was confidentially explained to the commissioners that to treat with them at that particular juncture might seriously embarrass the administration of Mr. Lincoln with popular opinion in the North; and they were recommended to patience and urged to confidence by assurances which keener diplomatists than these ill-chosen representatives of the Confederacy might have had reason to doubt.

But, at last, at the opportune time, this game with the commissioners was to be terminated. Dull and credulous as they were, their attention was, at last, attracted to the extraordinary preparations for an extensive military and naval expedition in New York, and other Northern ports. These preparations, commenced in secresy, for an expedition whose destination was concealed, only became known when nearly completed, and on the 5th, 6th, and 7th April transports and vessels of war, with troops, munitions, and military supplies, sailed from Northern ports bound southwards. Alarmed by so extraordinary a demonstration, the commissioners requested the delivery of an answer to their official communication of the 12th March, and thereupon received, on the 8th April, a reply dated on the 15th of the previous month, from which it appeared that during the whole interval, whilst the commissioners were receiving assurances calculated to inspire hope of the success of their mission, the Secretary of State and the President of the United States had already determined to hold no intercourse with them whatever; to refuse even to listen to any proposals they had to make, and had profited by the delay created by their own assurances, in order to prepare secretly the means for effective hostile operations.

Of this remarkable deception, and the disreputable method by which it had been obtained, President Davis justly and severely remarked, in a message to the Confederate Congress: “The crooked paths of diplomacy can scarcely furnish an example so wanting in courtesy, in candour, and directness, as was the course of the United States Government towards our commissioners in Washington.”

While the Confederate commissioners were thus being hoodwinked and betrayed, the reinforcement of Sumter was the subject of constant Cabinet consultation at Washington, held in profound secresy from the public, and surrounded by an air of mystery that gave occasion for the most various [107] rumours. Gen. Scott had advised the President that, in his military judgment, it had become impracticable to reinforce Fort Sumter, on account of the number of batteries erected by the Confederates at the mouth of the harbour; that an entrance from the sea was impossible. But Mr. Lincoln, and especially one member of his Cabinet, Mr. Blair, were firm in their refusal to evacuate the fort. It now became the concern of the government to avoid the difficulty of military reinforcements by some artifice that would equally well answer its purposes. That artifice was the subject of secret and sedulous consultation, that extended through several weeks.

About the last of March, Capt. Fox, of the Federal Navy, was sent to Charleston by the government, and stated that his object was entirely pacific. He was, by a strange credulity, allowed to visit the fort and to communicate with Major Anderson. His real object was to carry concealed despatches to Major Anderson, and to collect information with reference to a plan for the reinforcement of the garrison. On his return to Washington he was called frequently before President Lincoln and his Cabinet to explain his plan for reinforcing the fort, and to answer the objections presented by Gen. Scott and the military authorities. The project involved passing batteries with steamers or boats at night at right angles to the Confederate line of fire, and thirteen hundred yards distant --a feat which Capt. Fox argued was entirely practicable, and that many safe examples of it had been furnished by the Crimean War.

In this conflict of counsels the Washington administration hesitated. Mr. Lincoln, at one time, although with bitter reluctance, agreed that the fort should be evacuated, if the responsibility of the act could be thrown on the preceding administration of Mr. Buchanan. A leading article for a New York paper had been prepared, the proof-sheet of which was submitted to Mr. Lincoln and approved. In this, the ground was taken that the evacuation was an absolute military necessity, brought about by treason on the part of Mr. Buchanan, who, it was insisted, might have reinforced and supplied the garrison, but not only failed to do so, but purposely left it in such condition as to force his successor in office to encounter the ignominy of yielding it up to time Southerners. This same article lauded Mr. Lincoln's pacific policy, saying: “Had war — not peace --been his object,--had he desired to raise throughout the mighty North a feeling of indignation which in ninety days would have emancipated every slave on the continent, and driven their masters into the sea-if need be, he had only to have said--‘Let the garrison of Fort Sumter do their duty, and perish beneath its walls: and on the heads of the traitours and rebels and slavery propagandists be the consequences.’ ”

And yet the horrible alternative depicted here and indicated as the means of rousing the North to a war of extermination upon slavery and [108] slave-owners, was eventually and deliberately adopted by Mr. Lincoln. The point with the government was to devise some artifice for the relief of Fort Sumter, short of open military reinforcements, decided to be inpracticable, and which would have the effect of inaugurating the war by a safe indirection and under a plausible and convenient pretence. The device was at last conceived. On the afternoon of the 4th of April, President Lincoln sent for Capt. Fox, and said he had decided to let the expedition go, but he would send a messenger from himself to the authorities at Charleston, declaring that the purpose of the expedition was only to provision the fort, peaceably or forcibly, as they might decide for themselves.

Meanwhile the dalliance with the Confederate commissioners-the part of the artifice allotted to Secretary Seward--was kept up to the last moment. At one time Mr. Seward had declared to Judge Campbell, who was acting as an intermediary between the Secretary and the commissioners, that before a letter, the draft of which Judge Campbell held in his hand, could reach President Davis at Montgomery, Fort Sumter would have been evacuated. Five days passed, and instead of evacuating, Major Anderson was busy in strengthening Sumter! A telegram from Gen. Beauregard informed the commissioners of this. Again Judge Campbell saw Mr. Seward, and again, in the presence of a third party, received from him assurances that the fort was to be evacuated, and was authorized by him to state to the commissioners, that “the government will not undertake to supply Fort Sumter, without giving notice to Governor Pickens.” This was on the 1st of April. On the 7th, Judge Campbell again addressed Mr. Seward a letter, alluding to the anxiety and alarm excited by the great naval and military preparations of the government, and asking whether the peaceful assurances he had given were well or ill founded. Mr. Seward's reply was laconic: “Faith as to Sumter fully kept: wait and see!” On the very day that Mr. Seward uttered these words, the van of the Federal fleet, with a heavy force of soldiers, had sailed for the Southern coast!

The reduction of Fort Sumter.

On the 3d of March President Davis had commissioned P. G. T. Beauregard, then Colonel of Engineers in the Confederate service, Brigadier-general, with official directions to proceed to Charleston, and assume command of all the troops in actual service in and around that place. On arriving there he immediately examined the fortifications, and undertook the construction of additional works for the reduction of Fort Sumter, and the defence of the entrances to the harbour. [109]

On three sides, formidable batteries of cannon and mortars bore upon the Fort. On the south, at a distance of about twelve hundred yards, was Cummings Point on Morris' Island, where three batteries had been completed, mounting six guns and six mortars. Farthest off of these, was the Trapier battery, built very strongly with heavy beams and sand-bags, and containing three eight-inch mortars; next the “iron battery,” covered over with railroad bars, and having thick iron plates to close the embrasures after the guns were fired. Nearest to Sumter was the “Point battery,” a very large and strong work, containing three ten-inch mortars, two forty-two pounders and a rifled cannon. From these works, a long line of batteries stretched down the sea side of Morris' Island, commanding the ship channel, and threatening a terrible ordeal to the Federal vessels, should they attempt to enter. Nearly west of Sumter, on James' Island, was Fort Johnson, where a strong battery of mortars and cannon was erected. On the northeast was Fort Moultrie, ready with Columbiads, Dahlgren guns, mortars, and furnaces for red-hot shot. In the cove near the western end of Sullivan's Island, was anchored a floating battery, constructed of the peculiarly fibrous palmetto timber, sheathed with plate iron, and mounting four guns of heavy calibre.

On the 8th day of April a message was conveyed to Gov. Pickens of South Carolina, by Lieut. Talbot, all authorized agent of the Federal Government. It was as follows:

I am directed by the President of the United States, to notify you to expect an attempt will be made to supply Fort Sumter with provisions only, and that if such attempt be not resisted, no effort to throw in men, arms, or ammunition will be made, without further notice, or in case of an attack upon the fort.

The long suspense was over; the Federal fleet was approaching the coast. The message was telegraphed by Gen. Beauregard to Montgomery, and the instructions of his Government asked. Mr. Walker, the Confederate Secretary of War, replied, that if there was no doubt as to the authorized character of the messenger, Beauregard should at once demand the evacuation of Sumter, and if refused, should proceed to reduce it. The demand was made at two o'clock of the 11th April. Major Anderson replied: “I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your communication demanding the evacuation of this Fort, and to say in reply thereto, that it is a demand with which I regret that my sense of honour and of my obligation to my Government prevent my compliance.” Nothing was left but to accept the distinct challenge of the Federal Government to arms. A little past three o'clock in the morning of April 12th, Gen. Beauregard communicated by his aides with Major Anderson, notifying him that “he would open the fire of his batteries on Fort Sumter in one hour from that time.” [110]

At 4.30 A. M., the signal shell was fired from Fort Johnson. The fire from Fort Johnson was quickly followed by that of Moultrie, Cumming's Point, and the floating battery. The incessant flash of the ordnance made a circle of flame, and the bursting of bombs over and in Fort Sumter became more and more constant as the proper range was obtained by the artillerists.

Fort Sumter did not reply until seven o'clock. About that hour, it poured a well-directed stream of balls and shell against Moultrie, the floating battery, and the work on Cumming's Point. The fire continued throughout the day. Towards evening it became evident that that of the Confederates was very effective. The enemy was driven from his barbette guns; several of them were disabled; the parapet walls had crumbled away; deep chasms had opened below; the embrasures of the casemates had been so shattered as no longer to present a regular outline; the chimneys and roofs of the houses were in ruins.

While this bombardment was going on, a portion of the Federal fleet had reached the rendezvous off Charleston. It attempted to take no part in the fight. The only explanation of this extraordinary conduct of the naval expedition is found in a curious account from the pen of Capt. Fox himself. He writes: “As we neared the land, heavy guns were heard, and the smoke and shells from the batteries which had just opened fire on Sumter were distinctly visible. I immediately stood out to inform Capt. Rowan, of the Pawnee, but met him coming in. He hailed me and asked for a pilot, declaring his intention of standing into the harbour and sharing the fate of his brethren of the army. I went on board, and informed him that I would answer for it, that the Government did not expect any such gallant sacrifice, having settled maturely upon the policy indicated in the instructions to Capt. Mercer and myself.”

Early in the morning of the 13th, all of the Confederate batteries reopened upon Fort Sumter, which responded vigorously for a time, directing its fire specially against Fort Moultrie. At eight o'clock A. M., smoke was seen issuing from the quarters of Fort Sumter; upon this, the fire of the Confederate batteries was increased, as a matter of course, for the purpose of bringing the enemy to terms as speedily as possible, inasmuch as his flag was still floating defiantly above him. Fort Sumter continued to fire from time to time, but at long and irregular intervals, amid the dense smoke, flying shot, and bursting shells. The Confederate troops, carried away by their naturally generous impulses, mounted the different batteries, and at every discharge from the fort, cheered the garrison for its pluck and gallantry, and hooted the fleet lying inactive just outside the bar.

A little past one o'clock a shot from Moultrie struck the flag-staff of Summer, and brought down the ensign. At this time the condition of [111] Sumter and its garrison, had become desperate; the interiour was a heap of ruins; the parapet had. been so shattered that few of its guns remained mounted; the smoke was packed in the casemates so as to render it impossible for the men to work the guns; the number of the garrison was too small to relieve each other; incessant watching and labour had exhausted their strength. The conflagration, from the large volume of smoke, being apparently on the increase, Gen. Beauregard sent three of his aides with a message to Major Anderson, to the effect that seeing his flag no longer flying, his quarters in flames, and supposing him to be in distress, he desired to offer him any assistance he might stand in need of. Before his aides reached the fort, the Federal flag was displayed on the parapets, but remained there only a short time, when it was hauled down, and a white flag substituted in its place.

The fort had surrendered. The event was instantly announced in every part of Charleston by the ringing of bells, the pealing of cannon, the shouts of couriers dashing through the streets, and by every indication of general rejoicing. “As an honourable testimony to the gallantry and fortitude with which Major Anderson and his command had defended their posts,” Gen. Beauregard not only agreed that they might take passage at their convenience for New York, but allowed him, on leaving the fort, to salute his flag with fifty guns. In firing the salute, a caisson exploded, which resulted in mortal injuries to four of the garrison. This was the only loss of life in the whole affair. It appeared indeed that a Divine control had made this combat bloodless; and that so wonderful an exemption might have invited both sections of America to thoughts of gratitude and peace.2

But it was not to be so. The fire of the war first drawn at Sumter produced an instant and universal excitement in the North. It convinced the people of that section that there was no longer any prospect of recovering the Southern States by the cheap policy of double and paltering speeches. From the madness of their conviction, that they could no longer hope to accomplish their purposes by peaceful deceits and amusements of compromise, there was a sudden and quick current of public sentiment in the North towards the policy of coercion, with the most instant exertions to effect it.

The battle of Sumter had been brought on by the Washington Government [112] by a trick too dishonest and shallow to account for the immense display of sentiment in the North that ensued. The event afforded indeed to many politicians in the North a most flimsy and false excuse for loosing passions of hate against the South that had all along been festering in the concealment of their hearts. That action suddenly convinced them that the South was really resolved to separate; it disconcerted their hopes and plans of seducing her back into the Union by false and temporizing speeches; it utterly disappointed the Northern expectation that the South was not really in earnest, and that “all would come out right” by a little hypocrisy and affectation on the Northern side; it snapped as a rotten net their vile and cheap schemes of getting the South back into the Union by art and deceit; and men, finding no longer any purpose for concealment, threw aside their former professions, quickly determined to coerce what they could not cozen. This was the whole explanation of the Northern “reaction” at the occurrence at Sumter.

There now ensued in the North a sort of crusade against the South, the passion, the fury, and blasphemy of which it is almost impossible to describe. The holiness of this crusade was preached, alike, from the hustings and the pulpit. Dr. Tyng, a celebrated minister of New York, assembled certain “roughs” and marauders of that city, known as “Billy Wilson's men,” presented them Bibles, and declared that in carrying fire and sword into the rebellious States, they were propitiating Heaven, and would go far to assure the salvation of their souls. 3 In most of the [113] Northern cities men were forced to wear badges of “loyalty,” and every house required to hang out the Federal flag as a signal of patriotism, and an evidence of their support of the war. This peculiarly Yankee exhibition in flags pervaded nearly every square mile of country, and was carried even into the sanctuary. Pulpits were dressed with the Stars and Stripes; Sunday-school children wore the colours of the Federal ensign; the streets were rubicund with the bunting; and even in distant parts of the country flags floated from gate-posts and tops of trees, as evidences of “loyal” sentiments and marks for protection against “vigilance committees.” This singular exhibition of “Union” sentiment was not a mere picturesque affair; it was attended with fearful riots and violence, and the man who refused to display a piece of bunting was treated as a criminal and outlaw, pursued by mobs, and threatened with death.

Into this crusade against the South all parties and sects and races were strangely mingled. Old contentions and present animosities were forgotten; Democrats associated with recreants and fanatics in one grand league, for one grand purpose; foreigners from Europe were induced into the belief that they were called upon to fight for the “liberty” for which they had crossed the ocean, or for the “free homesteads” which were to be the rewards of the war; and all conceivable and reckless artifices were re sorted to to swell the tide of numbers against the South.

But what was most remarkable in this display of popular fury was its [114] sudden and complete absorption of the entire Democratic party in the North, which had so long professed regard for the rights of the Southern States, and even sympathy with the first movements of their secession. This party now actually rivalled the Abolitionists in their expressions of fury and revenge. They not only followed the tide of public opinion, but sought to ride on its crest. Daniel S. Dickinson of New York, who had enjoyed the reputation of a “Northern man with Southern principles,” became the fiercest advocate of the war, and consigned his former friends in the South to fire and sword. Edward Everett of Massachusetts, who, a few months ago, had declared that the Southern States should be permitted to go out of the Union in peace, became an apostle of the war, and exhausted his famous rhetoric in preaching the new gospel of blood. 4 These men were types of their party. In the early stages of Secession, it had been said that such was the sympathy of New York with the movement, that the Southern States would be able to recruit several regiments for their military service. Now in that city a newspaper office was threatened with a mob, because it had dared to criticise the defence of Sumter; and Democratic orators-among them a man named John Cochrane, who had made his reputation and modelled his manners by playing toady to Southern members in Congress-harangued the multitude, [115] advising them to “crush the rebellion,” and, if need be, to drown the whole South in one indiscriminate sea of blood.

This giving way of the Democratic party to the worst fanaticism of tile North, proved beyond doubt that it was wholly unreliable, entirely untrustworthy as the friend of the South, and, as Senator Brown of Mississippi had designated it in the last Congress, hopelessly “rotten.” But it proved something more than this. It proved that remarkable want of virtue in American politics, common in a certain degree, to all parts of the country. It was another illustration of the fact which runs through the whole of the political history of America, that in every election where one party greatly preponderates, or in every decisive exhibition of a majority, the minority is absorbed and disappears; principle is exchanged for expediency; public opinion becomes the slave of the larger party ; and public men desert the standards of conviction to follow the dispensations of patronage, and serve the changes of the times.

President Lincoln did not hesitate to take immediate advantage of the “reaction” in the North. Two days after the bloodless battle of Sumter, he issued his proclamation to raise seventy-five thousand troops, usurping the power and discretion of Congress to declare war by a shallow, verbal pretence of calling them out under the act of 1795, which only contemplated the raising of armed posses “in aid of the civil authorities.” 5

Even in this conjuncture, the President still hesitated to unmask his real intentions of a war of subjugation, still embracing the hope of keeping the Border States “loyal” to his Government. On the very day of the [116] attack on Sumter, he made the most pacific protests to the Virginia Commissioners, who were then visiting him;--the President then threatening no other retaliation for the capture of Sumter than the withdrawal of the mails from the seceded States. But Virginia was not to be easily deluded. Two days after the interview of her Commissioners with President Lincoln, her people were reading his call for a land force of seventy-five thousand men; and almost instantly thereafter, the proud and thrilling news was flashed over the South that Virginia had redeemed the pledges she had given against coercion, and was no longer a member of the Federal Union, but in a new, heart-to-heart, defiant union with the Confederate States of the South.

The ordinance of secession on the part of Virginia was met by signs of discontent in some thirty or forty counties in the western part of the State. But despite this distraction, her example was not without its influence and fruit. North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas followed the leadership of Virginia, in what may be called the second secessionary movement of the States-which, made as it was, in the immediate presence of war, and led by Virginia in the face of the most imposing, actual, and imminent dangers to herself, showed a courage and devotion of a degree not permitted to be exhibited by the first movement of the Cotton States. History will not allow the real leadership of Virginia in the glory of the movement for freedom to be disputed by South Carolina. Where all are confessed brave, and where opportunities only have differed for exhibitions of devotion, it is only in the historical spirit, and not in that of invidiousness, that the fact is claimed for Virginia of a supreme manifestation of devoted courage and leadership.

The people of Virginia had not long to wait to see verified the interpretation that that State had given to Mr. Lincoln's policy, as one of coercion and subjugation of the South, and of unauthorized war upon its citizens. He increased his levies by repeated proclamations, until more than two hundred thousand men in the North were put under arms. He exchanged his former pretext for calling out troops to repossess the Southern forts. He induced his new forces to believe that they were only intended for the defence of his capital. He did not hesitate, however, to occupy Maryland with troops, to increase the garrison and subsidiary [117] forces at Fortress Monroe to more than twelve thousand men, and to establish systems of despotism in Maryland and Missouri, by the disarming of citizens, military arrests, the suspension of the habeas corpus, and the striking down of the liberties of the people by a licentious soldiery.

Before the fall of Sumter, the Confederate Government at Montgomery had perfected its organization, and was quietly awaiting events. There could be no doubt of the confidence of the people in its mission. It had called for a slight loan-only five millions of dollars; but the proposals amounted to eight millions, and not one of them was below par. It had appointed three commissioners to England, France, Russia, and Belgium, instructed to ask the recognition of the Confederate States as a member of the family of nations.

The guns of Sumter gave a new animation to the Government and produced an excitement in the South that in volume and effect well responded to the fury of the North. President Davis, at once, Congresses being out of session, called upon the States for volunteers for the public defence. He also published a proclamation inviting applications for privateering service, in which private armed vessels might aid the public defence on the high seas under letters of marque and reprisal granted by Congress. The popular reply to these measures was enthusiastic. In every portion of the country, there was exhibited the most patriotic devotion to the common cause. Transportation companies freely tendered the use of their lines for troops and supplies. The presidents of the railroad of the Confederacy assembled in convention, and not only reduced largely the rates heretofore demanded for mail service, and conveyance of troops and munitions, but voluntarily proffered to receive their compensation at these reduced rates in the bonds of the Confederacy, for the purpose of leaving all the resources of the Government at its disposal for the common defence. Requisitions for troops were met with such alacrity that the numbers tendering their services, in every instance, greatly exceeded the demand. On the 29th of April, President Davis wrote to the Confederate Congress then convoked by him: “There are now in the field at Charleston, Pensacola, Forts Morgan, Jackson, St. Philip and Pulaski, nineteen thousand men, and sixteen thousand are now en route for Virginia.-It is proposed to organize and hold in readiness for instant action, in view of the present exigencies of the country, an army of one hundred thousand men.”

On the 20th day of May the seat of the Confederate Government was removed from Montgomery, Alabama, to Richmond, Virginia. It was clear enough that this latter State was to be the grand theatre of the war on land.

The first concern of Virginia after secession was not to raise troops: these were abundant; but to select a commander whose skill and name [118] might obtain universal confidence in the commonwealth, and befit the heroic and momentous occasion. Lieut.-Col. Robert E. Lee, a son of the famous Harry Lee, of the Revolution, and descended from a family conspicuous for two hundred years in Virginia, had resigned his commission in the United States Army, immediately on learning of the secession of his State. He had done so, protesting an attachment to the Union, but putting above that a sense of duty, that would never allow him to take part against his State, and “raise his hand against his relatives, his children, his home.” This sentiment of duty was expressed in very noble terms in the letter which tendered his resignation. The man who, some years ago, had written in a private letter to his son at college,--“Duty is the sublimest word in our language,” was now in his own life to attest the sentiment, and give its example; and when we find him in his farewell letter to Gen. Scott, referring to “the struggle it had cost him” to separate himself from the Federal service, we are prepared for the touching and noble declaration of his wife: “My husband has wept tears of blood over this terrible war; but he must, as a man of honour and a Virginian, share the destiny of his State, which has solemnly pronounced for independence.”

Governor Letcher was not slow in nominating Lee Major-General in command of all the military forces in Virginia. The nomination was unanimously confirmed by the Convention. Gen. Lee was conducted to the State House; there was an imposing ceremony of reception; the trust reposed in him was announced in a glowing speech from the Chair. In the excitement and elation of the occasion, his reply was singularly solemn and beautiful. lie said:

Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention: Profoundly impressed with the solemnity of the occasion, for which I must say I was not prepared, I accept the position assigned me by your partiality. I would have much preferred, had your choice fallen upon an abler man. Trusting in Almighty God, an approving conscience, and the aid of my fellow-citizens, I devote myself to the service of my native State, in whose behalf alone, will I ever again draw my sword.

But a few days after the secession of Virginia, she was a great camp. It was popularly estimated that in the early summer there were within her borders forty-eight thousand men under arms. The valleys and hills swarmed with soldiers; the rush to arms could scarcely be contained; the alternative was not who should go to the war, but who should stay at home. Two merchants had fought in Richmond, because one had reproached the other for being in his store, when nearly everybody in the city was following the drum, and companies were actually begging to be accepted into service. It is no wonder that Gen. Lee made a very unpopular and just remark: that the volunteer spirit of the country should be in [119] a measure checked and moderated, and that he threw cold water on a rabble who hurrahed him at a railroad station, by telling them they had better go home.

Gen. Lee's first task was to organize and equip the military forces that were from every direction flowing in upon his charge. The military council at the State House, Richmond, consisting of Governor Letcher, Lieut.-Gov. Montague, Lieut. M. F. Maury, of the Navy, Gen. Lee and others, was in almost constant session. The raw material promptly brought forward was to be effected for speedy service. The quartermaster and commissary departments were to be organized, to enable the immediate concentration of troops upon the borders of the State, wherever the movements of the enemy might demand the presence of troops. In fact, Gen. Lee had now all the duties of a minister of war to discharge, in addition to those more immediate of general-in-chief. And yet all these duties were executed with a rapidity and effect, and an easy precision of manner that may be said, at the outset of the war to have secured Lee's reputation as an unrivalled organizer of military forces, and thus early to have indicated one conspicuous branch of his great mind.

On the 6th of May, Virginia was admitted into the Southern Confederacy; and her forces then forming part of the entire Confederate Army, Lee's rank was reduced to that of Brigadier-General. In that position he was to remain for some time in comparative obscurity, while the more conspicuous names of Beauregard and others were to ride the wave of popular favour.

1 The silly or jocose story of the intended assassination was, that a party of Secessionists had plotted to throw the train of cars on which Mr. Lincoln was expected to travel to Baltimore, down a steep embankment, and this project failing, to murder him in the streets of Baltimore. But Yr. Lincoln left his wife and children to take the threatened route to Baltimore, and to risk the reported conspiracy to throw the cars from the track; and it turned out that they arrived safe at their journey's end, and without accident of any sort.

2 The North has been famous for cheap heroes in this war. Major Anderson was one of the earliest. When he arrived in the North from Sumter, he was greatly lionized, and travelled around the country feasting and speech-making. He was promoted to the rank of brigadier-general, and appointed to command the forces then gathering in Kentucky for the Western campaign. But he unexpectedly resigned; probably because he was unwilling to put in jeopardy his easily acquired reputation, or perhaps because, as he had once despatched from Sumter to Washington, “his heart was not in the war.”

3 As an evidence of the contrast of spirit between the Christian churches, North and South, with reference to the war, we may place in juxtaposition here certain remarkable contemporary expressions of sentiment emanating from two of the most conspicuous Episcopal divines of the country-Bishop Meade of Virginia, and Doctor Tyng of New York.

The report of the first venerable Diocesan to the Episcopal Convention of Virginia, on the eve of the war, was replete with Christian sentiment befitting the occasion. He wrote:

I have clung with tenacity to the hope of preserving the Union to the last moment. If I know my own heart, could the sacrifice of the poor remnant of my life have contributed in any degree to its maintenance, such sacrifice would have been cheerfully made. But the developments of public feeling and the course of our rulers have brought me, slowly, reluctantly, sorrowfully, yet most decidedly, to the painful conviction that notwithstanding attendant dangers and evils, we shall consult the welfare and happiness of the whole land by separation. And who can desire to retain a Union which has now become so hateful, and by the application of armed force, which, if successful, would make it tenfold more hateful, and soon lead to the repetition of the same bloody contests?

In connection with this civil and geographical separation in our country, and almost necessarily resulting from it, subjects of some change of the ecclesiastical relations of our Diocese must come under consideration. There is a general and strong desire, I believe, to retain as much as possible of our past and present happy intercourse with those from whom we shall be in other matters more divided. A meeting is already proposed for this purpose in one of the seceded States, whose plans, so far as developed, I will submit to the consideration of this body at its present session.

I cannot conclude without expressing the earnest desire that the ministers and members of our Church, and all the citizens of our State, who are so deeply interested in the present contest, may conduct it in the most elevated and Christian spirit, rising above unworthy and uncharitable imputations on all who are opposed. Many there are equally sincere, on both sides, as there ever have been in all the wars and controversies that have been waged upon earth; though it does not follow that all have the same grounds of justice and truth on which to base their warfare.

Let me, in conclusion, commend to the special prayers all those who have now devoted themselves to the defence of our State. From personal knowledge of many of them, and from the information of others, there is already, I believe, a large portion of religious principle and genuine piety to be found among them. I rejoice to learn that in many companies not only are the services of chaplains and other ministers earnestly sought for and after, but social prayer-meetings held among themselves. Our own Church has a very large proportion of communicants among the officers of our army, and not a few among the soldiers. Let us pray that grace may be given them to be faithful soldiers of the Cross, as well as valiant and successful defenders of the State.

About the same time, Dr. Tyng addressed a public meeting in New York, with reference to the war. He said he would not descend to call it civil warfare. He would not meet pirates upon the deck, and call it warfare. He would hang them as quick as he would shoot a mad dog. [Cheers.]

There was one road to peace, and that was absolute and entire subjection. [Cheers.] He did not mean the subjection of the South, but of the riotous mob which there had control of affairs. The sword of justice was the only pen that could write the final treaty. Referring to the troops that had been raised, the speaker asked who ever saw such an army as has been gathered in our land? He would not except the rare birds of Billy Wilson's Regiment. He might venture to say of them that their salvation might be in the very consecration they have made of themselves to their country. [Cheers.] Twenty-three thousand Bibles had been given to the troops who go to fight for their country; did anybody believe there were five hundred copies in the army of renegades who are meeting them in the contest? It would scald and singe their polluted hands. We had every cause to be proud of our army. They are worthy of the Bible. How their names will glisten in glory!

4 In a letter published in the newspapers of the day, Mr. Everett wrote:

It was my opinion that, if they [the Cotton States] would abstain from further aggression, and were determined to separate, we had better part in peace. But the wanton attack on Fort Sumter (which took place not from any military necessity, for what harm was a single company cooped up in Charleston harbour, able to do to South Carolina? but for the avowed purpose of stirring the blood of the South, and thus bringing in the Border States), and the subsequent proceedings at Montgomery have wholly changed the state of affairs. The South has levied an unprovoked war against the Government of the United States, the mildest and most beneficent in the world, and has made it the duty of every good citizen to rally to its support.

The excuse of the Sumter attack served other Democrats, beside Mr. Everett, as a convenient handle for hypocrisy and falseness. To be used as such, of course, it had to be put in a convenient shape of words. Mr. Everett speaks of it as “a wanton attack.” How wanton on the part of the South-how even evitable on her part, when the Administration made the direct challenge, which the South had forewarned the Government at Washington that it would be constrained to accept? This was a simple question; but it presented the whole issue of the Sumter complication, and severely indicates where the responsibility for the collision lies.

There is a wretched argument in Mr. Everett's statement above, which, wretched as it is, may be reversed against himself. He says that there was no “military necessity” for the possession of the fort by South Carolina, as it was able to do her no harm. Then, in what respect greater was the military necessity for the Government to retain it, if it was so powerless to control or to affect the seceded State?

It was no question of military necessity. The Government at Washington wanted the fort as an appanage of its sovereignty. So did South Carolina. And its possession by the latter was but the incident of the separation, which Mr. Everett says he had recommended! It was but the logical and legitimate conclusion of his own policy! Why should he complain that South Carolina should be in possession-and even bloodless possession — of the fort, which very fact was but the essential and inevitable carrying out of his own early recommendation of her separate sovereignty!

5 The following is a full copy of this important paper:

Whereas, the laws of the United States have been for some time past, and now are, opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law: now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth the Militia of the several States of the Union to the aggregate number of 75,000, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed.

The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the State authorities through the War Department. I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid, this effort to maintain the honour, the integrity, and existence, of our national Union, and the perpetuity of popular government, and to redress wrongs already long enough endured. I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union.; and in every event the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or interference with property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens of any part of the country; and I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid, to disperse and retire peace ably to their respective abodes, within twenty days from this date.

Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, convene both houses of Congress. The Senators and Representatives are, therefore, summoned to assemble at their respective chambers at twelve o'clock, noon, on Thursday, the fourth day of July next, then and there to consider and determine such measures as, in their wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to demand.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this fifteenth day of April, in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.

By the President, Abraham Lincoln. William H. Seward, Secretary of State.

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