General Scott's Opinions on the war.Early in the last year, when civil war seemed impending, but had no broken out, General Scott, then at the head of the United States army, wrote two papers containing his views, professional and political, on the crisis and the rights and duties which devolved on the U. S. Government in the momentous These two papers were subsequently lent to many friends to read, and one of them has recently been published without the writer's This is the letter made public by Mr. Van Buren. The ‘"superfluous veteran,"’ frightened as to the truth of this letter, has seemed It proper to give to the public himself the second of the papers referred to, lest it also might find its unauthorized way into print. He has, therefore, forwarded it to the National Intelligencer, having added to it a few explanatory ‘"notes,"’ which the lapse of time seemed to tender proper. It is as follows:
Southern forts — a Summary, Rtg.October 30, 1860, I emphatically called the attention of the President to the necessity of strong garrisons in all forts below the principal commerce cities of the Southern States, Including, by name, the forts in Pensacola a harbor. October 31, I suggested to the Secretary of War that a circular should be sent at once to such of those forts as had garrisons, to be alert against surprises and sudden assaults.--（St my "Views," since printed) After a long confinement to my bed in New York, I came to this city (Washington) December 12 Next day I personally urged upon the Secretary of war the same views, viz: strong garrisons in the Southern forts; those of Charleston and Pensacola harbors at once; those on Mobile bay and the Mississippi, below New Orleans, next, &c., &c I again pointed out the organized companies and recruits at the principal depots available for the purpose.--The Secretary did not concur in any of my views, when I begged him to procure for me an early view with the President, that I might make one effort more to save the forts and the Union. By appointment the Secretary accompanied me to the President, December 15, when the same topics (Secessionism, &c.,) were again pretty fully discussed. There being at the moment (In the opinion of the President) no danger of an early secession, beyond South Carolina, the President, in reply to my argument for immediately reinforcing Fort Moultrie, and sending a garrison to Fort Sumter, said: ‘"The time has not arrived for doing so; that he should wait the action of the Convention of South Carolina, in the expectation that a commission would be appointed, and sent to negotiate with him and Congress respecting the secession of the State and the property of the United States held within its limits and that if Congress should decide against the secession, then he would send a reinforcement, and telegraph the commanding officer (Major Anderson) of Fort Moultrie to hold the forts (Moultrie and Sumter) against attack."’ And the Secretary, with animation added: ‘ "We have a vessel-of-war (the Brooklyn) held in readiness at Norfolk, and he would then send three hundred men in her from Fortress Monroe to Charleston." To which I replied, first, that so many men could not be withdrawn from that garrison, but could be taken from New York. Next, that it would then be too late, as the South Carolina Commissioners would have the game in their own hands, by first using and then cutting the wires; that as there was not a soldier in Fort Sumter, any handful of armed Secessionists might seize and occupy it, &c. Here the remark may be permitted, that if the Secretary's three hundred men had then, or some time latter, been sent to Forts Moultrie and Sumter, both would now have been in the possession of the United States, and not a battery below them could have been created by the Secessionists; consequently, the access to those forts from the sea would now (the end of March) be unobstructed and free. * ’ The same day, December 15, I wrote the following note: ‘ "Lieutenant-General Scott begs the President to pardon him for supplying, in this note, what he omitted to say this morning at the interview with which he was honored by the President."Long prior to the force bill, (March 2, 1833,) prior to the issue of his proclamation, and, in part, prior to the passage of the ordinance of nullification, President Jackson, under the act of March 8, 1807, authorizing the employment of the land and naval forces, caused reinforcements to be sent to Fort and a sloop-of-war, (the Natchez) with two revenue cutters, to be cent to Charleston harbor, in order, 1, to prevent the seizure of that fort by the nullifiers, and, 2, to enforce the execution of the revenue laws. Gen. Scott himself arrived at Charleston the day after the passage of the ordinance of nullification, and many of the additional companies were then on route for the same destination. "President Jackson familiarly said at the time that, by the assemblage of those forces for lawful purposes, he was not making war upon South Carolina; but that if South Carolina attacked them it would be South Carolina that made war upon the United States. "General S., who received his first instructions (oral) from the President, in the temporary absence of the Secretary of War, (Gen. Cass,) remembers those expressions well. ’
"Saturday night, December 13, 1860."December 28.--Again, after Major Anderson had gallantly and wisely thrown his handful of men from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter--learning that, on demand of South Carolina, there was great danger that he might be ordered by the Secretary back to the less tenable work, or out of the harbor — I wrote this note: ‘ "Lieutenant-General Scott, who has had a bad night, and can scarcely hold up his head this morning, begs to express the hope that the Secretary of War. That orders may not be given for the evacuation of Fort Sumter. 2. That three hundred and fifty men may instantly be sent from Governor's Island to reinforce that garrison, with ample supplies of ammunition and subsistence, including fresh vegetables and potatoes, onions, turnips; and, 3. That one or two armed vessels be sent to support the said fort. "Lieutenant General Scott avails himself of this opportunity also to express the hope that the recommendations heretofore made by him to the Secretary of War respecting Forts Jackson, St. Philip, Morgan and Pulaski, and particularly in respect to Forts Pickens and McRae and the Pensacola, navy-yard, in connection with the last two named works, may be reconsidered by the Secretary. ‘"Lieutenant-General Scott will further ask the attention of the Secretary to Forts Jefferson and Taylor, which are wholly national — being of far greater value even to the more distant points of the Atlantic coast and the people on the upper waters of the Missouri, Mississippi and Ohio rivers, than to the State of Florida. There is only a feeble company at Key West for the defence of Fort Taylor, and not a soldier in Fort Jefferson to resist a handful of filibusters or a row-boat of pirates; and the Gulf, soon after the beginning of secession or revolutionary troubles in the adjacent States, will swarm with such nuisances"’ ’ December 30.--I addressed the President as follows: ‘ "Lieutenant-General Scott begs the President of the United States to pardon the irregularity of this communication. It is Sunday, the weather is bad, and General Scott is not well enough to go to church. "But matters of the highest national importance seem to forbid a moment's delay, and, if misled by seal, he hopes for the President's forgiveness. "Will the President permit General Scott, without reference to the War Department, and otherwise as secretly as possible, to send two hundred and fifty recruits from New York harbor to reinforce Fort Sumter, together with some extra muskets or rifles, ammunition and subsistence? "It is hoped that a sloop-of-war and cutter may be ordered for the same purpose as early as to-morrow. "General Scott will wait upon the President at any moment he may be called for." ’ The South Carolina Commissioners had already been many days in Washington, and no movement of defence (on the part of the United States) was permitted. I will here close my notice of Fort Sumter by quoting from some of my previous reports: It would have been easy to reinforce this fort down to about the 12th of February. In this long delay Fort Moultrie had been rearmed and greatly strengthened in every way by the rebels. Many powerful new land batteries (besides a formidable raft) had been constructed Hulks, too, have been punk in the principal channel, so as to render access to Fort Sumter from the sea impracticable without first carrying all the lower batteries of the Secessionists. The difficulty of reinforcing had thus been increased ten or twelve fold. First, the late President refused to allow any attempt to be made, because he was holding negotiations with the South Carolina Commissioners. Afterwards Secretary Holt and myself endeavored in vain to obtain a ship-of-war for the purpose, and were finally obliged to employ the passenger steamer star of the West. That vessel, but for the hesitation of the master, might, as is generally believed, have delivered at the fort the men and subsistence on board. This attempt at succor failing, I next, verbally, submitted to the late Cabinet either that succor be sent by ships-of-war, fighting their way by the batteries, (Increasing in strength daily,) or that Maj. Anderson should be left to ameliorate his condition by the muzzles of his guns — that is, enforcing supplies by bombardment and by bringing so merchant vessels, helping himself, (giving orders for payment,) or, finally, be allowed to evacuate the fort, which, in that case, would be inevitable. But, before any resolution was taken, the late Secretary of the Navy making difficulties about want of suitable war vessels, another Commissioner from south Carolina arrived, causing further delay. When this had passed away Secretaries Holt and Toucey, Captain Ward, of the Navy, and myself-- with the knowledge of the President, (Buchanan,) settled upon the employment, under the captain, (who was anger for the expedition,) of three or four small steamers belonging to the Coast Survey. At that time, (late in January,) I have but little doubt Captain Ward would have reached Fort Sumter with all his vessels. But he was kept back by something like a truce or armistice, (made here,) embracing Charleston and Pensacola harbors, agreed upon between the late President and certain principal seceders of South Carolina, Florida, Louisiana, &c.; and this truce lasted to the end of that Administration. That plan, and all others, without a squadron of war ships and a considerable army, competent to take and hold the many formidable batteries below Fort Sumter, and before the exhaustion of its subsistence having been pronounced, from the change of circumstances, impracticable by Major Anderson, Captain Foster, (Chief Engineer) and all the other officers of the fort, as well as Brigadier-General Totten, Chief of the Corps of Engineers; and, concurring in that opinion, I did not hesitate to advise (March 12th) that Major Anderson be instructed to evacuate the fort, so long gallantly held by him and his companions, immediately on procuring suitable transportation to take them to New York His relative weakness had steadily increased in the last eighteen days. It was not till January 3d"when the first Commissioners from South Carolina withdrew — that the permission I had solicited October 31st was obtained to admonish commanders of the few Southern forts with garrisons to be on the alert against surprises and sudden assaults (Major Anderson was not among the admonished, being already straitly beleaguered) January 3d.--To Lieutenant Slemmer, commanding in Pensacola harbor: ‘"The General-in-Chief directs that you take measures to do the utmost in your power to prevent the of either of the forts in Pensacola harbor, By on assault, conducting first with the commander of the navy-yard, who will probably have received instructions to co-operate with you."’ (This order was signed by Aide-de-camp Lay.) It was just before the surrender of the Pensacola navy-yard (January 12. ) that Lieutenant Slemmer, calling upon Commander Armstrong, obtained the aid of some thirty common seamen or laborers, (but no marines,) which, added to his forty-six soldiers, made up his numbers to seventy-six men, with whom this meritorious officer has since held Fort Pickens, and performed, working night and day, an immense amount of labor in mounting guns, keeping up a strong guard, &c., &c Early in January I renewed, as has been seen, my solicitations to be allowed to reinforce Fort Pickens, but a good deal of time was lost in vacillations First, the President ‘ "thought if no movement is made by the United States, Fort McRae will probably not be occupied, nor Fort Pickens attacked — In case of movements by the United States, which will doubtless be made known by the wires, there will be corresponding local movements, and the attempt to reinforce will be useless"’ (Quotations from a note made by Aid de Camp Lay, about January 12, of the President's reply to a message from me.) Next, it was doubted whether it would be safe to send reinforcements in an unarmed steamer, and the want, as usual, of a suitable naval vessel — the Brooklyn being long held in reserve at Norfolk for some purpose unknown to me. Finally, after I had kept a body of three hundred recruits in New York harbor ready for some time — and they would have been sufficient to reinforce temporarily Fort Pickens, and to occupy Fort McRae also — the President, about January 18, permitted that the sloop of war Brooklyn should take a single company, ninety men, from Fortress Monroe, Hampton Roads, and reinforce Lieut Slemmer, in Fort Pickens, but without a surplus man for the neighboring fort, McRae. The Brooklyn, with Captain Vodges's company alone, left the Chesapeake for Fort Pickens about January 22d, and, on the 29th, President Buchanan, having entered into a quasi armistice with certain leading seceders at Pensacola and elsewhere, caused Secretaries Holt and Touley to instruct, in a joint note, the commanders of the war vessels off Pensacola and Lieut Slemmer, commanding Fort Pickens, to commit no act of hostilities, and not to land Captain Vodges's company unless that fort should be attacked. [That joint note I never saw until March 25th, but suppose the armistice was consequent upon the meeting of the Peace Convention at Washington, and was understood to terminate with it.] Hearing, however, that the most active preparations for hostilities on the part of the seceders at Pensacola, by the erection of new batteries and arming Fort Mcllae--that had not a gun mounted when it was seized — during the Peace Convention and since, I brought the subject to the notice of the new Administration, when this note, dated March 12th. to Captain Vodges was agreed upon, viz: ‘"At the first favorable moment you will land with your company, reinforce Fort Pickons, and hold the same until further orders. "’ This order, in duplicate, left New York in two naval vessels about the middle of March, as the mail and the wires could not be trusted, and detached officers could not be substituted, for two had already been arrested and paroled by the authorities of Pensacola, dispatches taken from them, and a third, to escape like treatment, forced to turn back when near that city.--Thus these authorities have not ceased to make war upon the United States since the capture by them of the navy-yard, January 12th. Respectfully submitted, Winfield Scott.
Headquarters of the army.
In giving the above paper, at the instance of General Scott, it may not be improper to publish the following letter, referred to as the one which has appeared in print without his authority, and which, it is asserted in the public papers, the Secretary of State, to whom the letter was written, denies any instrumentality in making public.
[Here follows the ‘"Supplement,"’ which we published a few days ago.]
Washington, March 30, '60.
*It was not till January 4 that, by the aid of Secretary Holt, (a strong and loyal man,) I obtained permission to send succor to the feeble garrison of Fort Taylor, Key West, and at the same time a company--Major Arnold's, from Boston"to occupy Fort Jefferson, Tortugas Island. If this company had been three days later the fort would have been pre-occupied by Floridians. It is known that the rebels had their eyes upon those powerful forts, which govern the commerce of the Mexican Gulf, as Gibraltar and Malta govern that of the Mediterranean. With Forts Jefferson and Taylor, the rebels might have purchased an early recognition from Europe. It was known at the Navy Department that the Brooklyn, with Captain Vodges on board, would be obliged in open sea to stand off on Fort Pickens, and in rough weather might sometimes be fifty miles off. Indeed, if ten miles at sea, the fort might have been attacked and easily carried. before the reinforcement could have reached the beach, in open sea, where alone it could land.