The National crisis.the Star of the West arrived at New York — Seward's speech statement of the South Carolina Commissioners — Description of the forts that have been taken possession of--New York Legislature resolutions Message of the Governor of Indiana. &c. &c
The return of the Star of the West to New York — Narrative of her experience.The steamer Star of the West arrived at New York Saturday morning. The Journal of Commerce says: ‘ As soon as her identity was made out by people along the river front, the piers in that neighborhood were thronged with spectators, anxious to see the vessel that had been fired at by the secessionists, and to know positively what damage had been done to her. The heavy blue overcoats of U. S. troops could be seen in a dense mass forward of her wheel-house.--Many persons were anxious to gratify their curiosity by going aboard of her in small boats, but this was sternly refused by the officers of the vessel. Capt. McGowan came ashore and repaired at once to the office of M. O. Roberts, the owner of the boat. After a consultation between these gentlemen, telegrams were sent to Washington for further instructions, and until they are received, the Star of the West will remain where she now is with the troops on board, and no communication will be permitted except to Government officers, between her and the shore. The troops, two hundred in number, are in excellent health and spirits. ’
Statement of Capt. McGowan.The following is an official account of the trip:
Steam ship Star of the West.
New York, Jan. 12th, 1861.After leaving the wharf on the 5th inst., at 5 P. M., we proceeded down the bay, where we have to and took on board four officers and two hundred soldiers, with their arms, ammunition, &c, and then proceeded to sea, crossing the bar at Sandy Hook at 9 P. M.--Nothing unusual took place during the passage, which was a pleasant one for the season of the year. We arrived off Charleston bar at 1.30 A. M. on the 9th inst. but could find no guiding marks for the bar, as the lights were all out. We proceeded with caution, running very slow and sounding until about 4 A. M., being then in 4½ fathoms of water, when we discovered a light through the haze which at that time covered the horizon. Concluding that the lights were on Fort Sumter, after getting the hearings of it, we steered to the S. W. for the main ship channel, where we have to, to await day light our lights having all been put out since 12 o'clock to avoid being seen. As the day began to break we discovered a steamer just in shore of us, which as soon as she saw us, burned one blue light and two red lights as signals, and shortly after steamed over the bar and into the ship channel. The soldiers were now all put below, and no one allowed on the deck except our own crew. As soon as there was light enough to see, we crossed the bar and proceeded on up the channel, (the water bar busy having been taken away.) the steamer ahead of us sending off rockets and calcium lights, until after broad daylight, continuing on her course up, near two miles ahead of us. When we arrived about two miles from Fort Moultrie. Fort Sumter being about the same distance, a masked battery on Morris Island, where there was a red Palmetto flag flying, opened fire upon us — the distance about five eighths of a mile. We had the American flag flying at our flag staff at the time. and soon after the first shot hoisted a large American ensign at the fore. We continued on under the fire of the battery for over ten minutes. several of the shots going clear over-us. One just passed clear of the pilot-house. Another passed between the smoke-stack and walking beams of the engine. Another stuck the ship just shaft the forerunning and stove in the planking, while another come within an ace of carrying away the rudder. At the same time there was a movement of two steamers from near. Fort Moultrie, one of them towing a schooner. I presume an armed schooner., with the intention of cutting us off — Our position now became critical as we had to approach Fort Moultrie to within three-four of a mile, before we could keep away for Fort Sumter. A steamer approaching us with an armed schooner in tow, and the battery on the island flung at us all the time, and having no cannon to defend ourselves from the attack of the vessels, we concluded that to avoid certain capture or destruction we would endeavor to get to sea. Consequently we wore around and steered down the channel, the battery, firing upon us until their shot fell short. As it was now strong ebb tide, and the water having fallen some three feet, we proceeded with caution, and crossed the bar safely at $50 A. M, and continued on our course for this port, where we arrived this morning, after a boisterous passage. A steamer from Charleston was about three hours watching our movements. In justice to the officers and crew of each department of the ship, I must add, that their behavior, white under the fire of the battery, reflected great credit on them Mr. Brewer, the New York pilot, was of very great assistance to me in helping to pilot the ship over Charleston bar, and up and down the channel.
M. O. Roberts, Esq--Sir:
M. O. Roberts, Esq--Sir:
Very respectfully, your ob't. serv't.We learn from other sources that the firing was maintained from the Island about fifteen minutes, and that the guns sent good line shots, although most of them were much too high and went over the vessel. After two or three shots had been fired, the troops on board exhibited more curiosity than trepidation, and (as many of them as were permitted) went on the upper deck, and watched the firing with great interest. They had their rifles loaded, and were prepared to repel any attempt to board the vessel, and, if ordered, would have taken pleasure in trying to pick off the gunners at the masked battery. It is not true, as has been rumored, that the American flag was pulled down on the Star of the West. When Captain McGowan turned about he hauled down the private signal of the vessel to let Major Anderson know that she was leaving. Had Major Anderson prevented the steamer with the schooner (supposed to be armed) from passing under the guns of his fort, or had he attempted to silence the battery at Morris' Island, or in any other way evinced an intention to protect the Star of the West, Captain McGowan would undoubtedly have persisted in his efforts to land the reinforcements at Fort Sumter. One of the balls came within about four feet of the rudder. The ball that hit the vessel was a ricochet shot. It left a dent about three inches deep on the thick oaken planks. The officers of the ship furnish the following report: ‘ On Wednesday, 9th inst., at 1 A. M., made Charleston Bar; laid to until daylight, when she proceeded to enter the harbor. When off Morris' Island, was fired into by the battery from that point, seventeen shots being fired at her--one taking slight effect on her port bow, and a second (as she turned to leave the harbor) on the starboard quarter. One ball passed between the smoke-stack and the engine-room. Finding it impossible to land troops, was returning to sea at 9 A. M., when the fire was continued, several shots being fired after her. ’ She succeeded in getting to sea without other damage to vessel or those on board. On coming out over the bar, struck twice.--Remained outside the bar over Wednesday night. That night, saw steamers out of the harbor, supposed in pursuit. Extinguished all lights and was not seen by them. Same night spoke ship Emily S. Pierce, from Liverpool, of and for Charleston, at anchor. She had been refused admittance in consequence of having the American flag flying.
J. McGowan, Captain.
J. McGowan, Captain.
Speech of Senator Seward.Senator Seward made his long looked for speech in the Senate Saturday. The conclusion of it contains the gist of his argument — certainly his declarations. He says: ‘ So far as the abstract question whether, by the Constitution of the United States, the bondsman, who is made such by the laws of a State, is still a man or only property, 1 answer that, within that State, its laws on that subject are supreme; that when he has escaped from that State into another, the Constitution regards him as a bondsman who may not, by any law or regulation of that State, be discharged from his service, but shall be delivered up on claim, to the party to whom his service is due. ’ While prudence and justice would combine in persuading you to modify the acts of Congress on that subject, so as not to oblige private persons to assist in their execution, and to protect freemen from being, by abuse of the laws, carried into slavery, I agree that all laws of the States, which relate to this class of persons, or any others recently coming from or resident in other States, and which laws contravene the Constitution of the United States, or any law of Congress passed in conformity thereto, ought to be repealed. Secondly. Experience in public affairs has confirmed my opinion, that domestic slavery, existing in any State, is wisely left by the Constitution of the United States exclusively to the care, management and disposition of that State; and if it were in my power, I would not alter the Constitution in that respect. If misapprehension of my position needs so strong a remedy, I am willing to vote for an amendment of the Constitution, declaring that it shall not, by any future amendment, be so altered as to confer on Congress a power to abolish or interfere with slavery in any State. Thirdly. While I think that Congress has exclusive and sovereign authority to legislate on all subjects whatever, in the common Territories of the United States; and while I certainly shall never, directly or indirectly, give my vote to establish or sanction slavery in such Territories, or anywhere else in the world yet the question what constitutional laws shall at any time be passed in regard to the Territories, is, like every other question, to be determined on practical grounds. I voted for enabling acts in the cases of Oregon, Minnesota and Kansas, without being able to secure in them such provisions as I would have preferred; and yet I voted wisely. So now, I am well satisfied that, under existing circumstances, a happy and satisfactory solution of the difficulties in the remaining territories would be obtained by similar laws, providing for their organization, if such organization were otherwise practicable. If, therefore, Kansas was admitted as a State, under the Wyandotte Constitution, as I think she ought to be, and if the organic laws of all the other territories could be repealed, I could vote to authorize the organization and admission of two new States which should include them, reserving the right to effect subdivisions of them whenever necessary into several convenient States; but I do not find that such reservations could be constitutionally made. Without them, the ulterior embarrassments which would result from the hasty incorporation of States of such vast extent and various interests and character, would out weigh all the immediate advantages of such a measure. But if the measure were practicable, I should prefer a different course, namely: when the eccentric movements of secession and disunion shall have ended, in whatever form that end may come, and the angry excitements of the hour shall have subsided, and calmness once more shall have resumed its accustomed away over the public mind, then, and hot until then--one, two, or three years hence — I should cheerfully advise a Convention of the people, to be assembled in pursuance of the Constitution, to consider and decide whether any and what amendments of the organic national law ought to be made. Republican now — as I have heretofore been a member of other parties existing in my day — I nevertheless hold and cherish, as I have always done, the principle that this Government exists in its present form only by the consent of the governed, and that it is as necessary as it is wise, to resort to the people for revisions of the organic law when the troubles and dangers of the State certainly transcend the powers delegated by it to the public authorities. Nor ought the suggestion to excite surprise. Government in any form is a machine; this is the most complex one that the mind of man has ever invented, or the hand of man has ever framed. Perfect as it is, it ought to be expected that it will, at least as often as once in a century, require some modification to adapt it to the changes of society and alterations of empire. Fourthly, I hold myself ready now, as always heretofore, to vote for any properly guarded laws which shall be deemed necessary to prevent mutual invasions of States by citizens of other States, and punish those who shall aid and abet them. Fifthly, Notwithstanding the arguments of the gallant Senator from Oregon, (Gen. Lane,) I remain of the opinion that physical bonds, such as high ways, railroads, rivers and canals, are vastly more powerful for holding civil communities together than any mere covenants, though written on parchment or engraved upon iron. I remain, therefore, constant to my purpose to secure, if possible, the construction of two Pacific railways, one of which shall connect the ports around the mouth of the Mississippi, and the other the towns on the Missouri and the lakes, with the harbors on our Western coast. If, on the expression of these views, I have not proposed what is desired or expected by many others, they will do me the justice to believe that I am as far from having suggested what in many respects would have been in harmony with cherished convictions of my own. I learned early from Jefferson, that in political affairs we cannot always do what seems to us absolutely best. Those with whom we must necessarily act, entertaining different views, have the power and right of carrying them into practice. We must be content to lead when we can, and to follow when we cannot lead; and if we cannot at any time do for our country all the good that we would wish, we must be satisfied with doing for her all the good that we can. Having submitted my own opinions on this great crisis, it remains only to say that I shall cheerfully lend to the government my best support in whatever prudent yet energetic efforts it shall make to preserve the Union, advising, only, that it practice as far as possible, the utmost moderation, forbearance and conciliation. And, now, Mr. President, what are the auspices of the country? I know that we are in the midst of alarms, and somewhat exposed to accidents unavoidable in seasons of tempestuous passions. We already have disorder, and violence has begun. I know not to what extent it may go. Still my faith in the Constitution and in the Union abides, because my faith in the wisdom and virtue of the American people remains unshaken. Coolness, calmness, and resolution, are elements of their character. They have been temporarily displaced; but they are reappearing. Soon enough, I trust, for safety, it will be seen that sedition and violence are only local and temporary, and that loyalty and affection to the Union are the natural sentiments of the whole country. Whatever dangers there shall be, there will be the determination to meet them; whatever sacrifices, private or public, shall be needful for the Union, they will be made. I feel sure that the hour has not come for this great nation to fall. This people, which has been studying to become wiser and better as it has grown older, is not perverse or wicked enough to deserve so dreadful and severe a punishment as dissolution. This Union has not yet accomplished what good or mankind was manifestly designed by Him who appoints the seasons and prescribes the duties of States and empires. No, sir; if it were cast down by factions to-day, it would rise again and reappear in all its majestic proportions to morrow. It is the only government that can stand here. Woe! Woe! to the man that madly lifts his hand against it. It shall continue and endure; and men, in after times, shall declare that this generation, which saved the Union from such sudden and unlooked for dangers, surpassed in magnanimity even that one which laid its foundations in the eternal principles of liberty, justice and humanity.
The Personal interviews of the South Carolina Commissioners with the President.The South Carolina Commissioners to Washington have laid before the Convention an interesting statement of their interviews with the President. We make the following extract: On Saturday, the 8th of December, several of the South Carolina delegation, including ourselves, waited upon the President. At this time, there was a growing belief that reinforcements were on the eve of being sent to the forts in Charleston harbor. It was known that the subject was frequently and earnestly discussed in the Cabinet. It was rumored that General Cass and Mr. Holt were urgent that reinforcements should be sent. Upon our being announced, the President, who was then in Cabinet Council, came out to us in the ante-room. We at once entered into a conversation upon the topic, which was so closely occupying his thoughts as well as ours.--The President seemed much disturbed and moved. He told us that he had had a painful interview with the wife of Major Anderson, who had come on from New York to see him. She had manifested great anxiety and distress at the situation of her husband, whom she seemed to consider in momentary danger of an attack from an excited and lawless mob. The President professed a deep responsibility resting upon him to protect the lives of Maj. Anderson and his command. We told him that the news that reinforcements were on their way to Charleston, would be the surest means of provoking what Mrs. Anderson apprehended, and what he so much deprecated. We said, further, that we did not believe that Major Anderson was in danger of such an attack; that the general sentiment of the State was against any such proceeding. That, prior to the action of the State Convention, then only ten days off, we felt satisfied that there would be no attempt to molest the forts in any way.--That, after the Convention met — while we could not possibly undertake to say what that body would see fit to do — we yet hoped and believed that nothing would be done until we had first endeavored, by duly accredited Commissioners, to negotiate for a peaceful settlement of all matters, including the delivery of the forts, between South Carolina and the Federal Government. At the same time, we again reiterated our solemn belief that any change in the then existing condition of things in Charleston harbor would, in the excited state of feeling at home, inevitably precipitate a collision. The impression made upon us was, that the President was wavering, and had not decided what course he would pursue. He said he was glad to have had this conversation with us, but would prefer that we should give him a written memorandum of the substance of what we had said. This we did on Monday, the 10th. It was in these words:
To His Excellency James Buchanan,In compliance with our statement to you yesterday. we now express to you our strong convictions that neither the constituted authorities, nor any body of the people of South Carolina, will either attack or molest the United States forts in the harbor of Charleston, previously to the action of the Convention, and we hope and believe not until an offer has been made through an accredited representative, to negotiate for an amicable arrangement of all matters between the State and the Federal Government, provided that no reinforcements shall be sent into those forts, and their relative military status shall remain as at present.
President of the United States:
President of the United States:
Washington, 9th December, 1860.The President did not like the word "provided," because it looked as if we were binding him while avowing that we had no authority to commit the Convention. We told him we did not so understand it. We were expressing our convictions and belief, predicated upon the maintenance of a certain condition of things, which maintenance was absolutely and entirely in his power. If he maintained such condition, then we believed that collision would be avoided until the attempt at a peaceable negotiation had failed. If he did not, then we solemnly assured him that we believed collision must inevitably, and at once, be precipitated. He seemed satisfied, and said it was not his intention to send reinforcements, or make any change. We explained to him what we meant by the words "relative military status," as applied to the forts; mentioned the difference between Major Anderson's occupying his then position at Fort Moultrie, and throwing himself into Fort Sumter. We stated that the latter step would be equivalent to reinforcing the garrison, and would just as certainly, as the sending of fresh troops, lead to the result which we both desired to avoid. When we rose to go, the President said in substance, "After all, this is a matter of honor among gentlemen. I do not know that any paper or writing is necessary. We understand each other." One of the delegation, just before leaving the room, remarks', "Mr, President, you have determined to let things remain as they are, and not to send reinforcements; but, suppose that you were hereafter to change your policy for any reason, what then? That would put us, who are willing to use our personal influence to prevent any attack upon the forts before Commissioners are sent on to Washington, in rather an embarrassing position." "Then," said the President, "I would first return you this paper." We do not pretend to give the exact words on either side, but we are sure we give the sense of both. The above is a full and exact account of what passed between the President and the delegation. The President, in his letter to our Commissioners, tries to give the impression that our "understanding" or "agreement" was not a "pledge." We confess we are not sufficiently versed in the wiles of diplomacy to feel the force of this "distinction without a difference." Nor can we understand how, in "a matter of honor among gentlemen," in which "no paper or writing is necessary," the very party who was willing to put it on that high footing can honorably descend to mere verbal criticism, to purge himself of what all gentlemen and men of honor must consider a breach of faith.
The forts already captured.The following named forts have thus far been seized by order of the Governors of the States in which they are respectively located, and are now in possession of the secessionists:
|Fortifications||Location,||Guns||Cost of Construction and Repairs.||Cost of Armament.|
|Fort Macon||Beaufort, N. C.||61||430,000||48,920|
|Fort Caswell||Oak Island, do||87||571,221||72,711|
|Fort St. Philip||Louisiana||124||203,734||101,980|
Pensacola and its fortifications.Pensacola bay has rare properties as a harbor. It is now accessible to frigates. The bar is near the coast, and the channel across it short and easily passed. The harbor is perfectly land-locked, and the roadstead very capacious. There are excellent positions within for repairing, building and launching vessels, and for docks and dock-yards in healthy situations. The supply of good water is abundant. These properties, in connection with the position of the harbor, as regards the coast, have induced the government to select it as a Naval station, and a place of rendezvous and repair. The upper arms of Pensacola bay receive the Yellow Water or Pea river, Middle river and Escambia river, eleven miles from the Gulf.
Santa Rosa Island.Santa Rosa Island is situated east by northwest by south fourteen leagues, and completely shuts out Pensacola from the sea. It is so low that the sea in a gale washes its top. It is not more than one-fourth of a mile wide.--The west point of this island is at the mouth of Pensacola bay. The latter is not over one and a quarter mile wide.
Fort Pickens.The principal means of defence to the mouth of Pensacola bay and the naval station is Fort Pickens. This fort is a first class bastioned fort, built of New York granite, and situated on low ground on the east point of Santa Rosa Island. Its walls are forty-five feet in height by twelve feet in thickness; it is embrasure for two tiers of guns, which are placed under bombproof casemates, besides having one tier of guns en barbette. The guns from this work radiate to every point of the horizon, with flank and enfilading fire at every angle of approach. The work was commenced in 1828 and finished in 1853. It cost the Federal Government nearly one million of dollars. When on a war footing its garrison consists of 1,260 soldiers. Its armament, only a portion of which is within its walls, consists of--
|Forty-two pounder iron guns||63|
|Thirty-two-pounder iron guns||17|
|Twenty-four-pounder iron guns||49|
|Eighteen pounder iron guns||5|
|Twelve pounder iron guns||13|
|Brass field pieces||6|
|Brass flank howitzers||26|
|Heavy eight inch howitzers||13|
|Heavy ten-inch mortars||4|
|Light eight-inch mortars||4|
|Sixteen inch stone mortars||4|