“I Shall Direct the Command to Sleep To-Night in the Bomb-Proof.”

April 10, 1861
Expecting the seaborne relief mission to arrive outside Charleston Harbor at any moment, U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson, commander inside Fort Sumter, wrote a message to Colonel Lorenzo Thomas, adjutant general of the United States Army.

The message has a forced optimism about it, along with a reserved sense of doom. Anderson writes in part:

Major Robert Anderson

[quote]This morning we see another gun, the fourth, in the new battery on Sullivan’s Island. This battery will bear directly upon any boat attempting to land stores at the left flank, and will, independently of the shower of shells which will be thrown over our fort, soon drive us from our barbette guns on both flanks. All we can do after that will be to use the guns of the lower tier. We have bread enough by using (as we have been doing for two days) but half rations to last until dinner time on Friday.[/quote] [quote]My command is in fine spirits, but I see that the long confinement, with the constant excitement, is telling on them. None of us could endure fatiguing labor for any length of time. I shall direct all the command to sleep to-night in the bomb-proof [a heavily fortified room that should withstand shelling -- ed.]. [/quote] [quote]We are busy constructing a traverse to guard the gate from the fire of the batteries on Cummings Point, preparing sinks inside, making arrangements for a hospital for the wounded, &c., placing the ammunition in secure positions under the second tier of casemates convenient for use, &c. [/quote] [quote]We shall make every preparation for the attempted landing, and I have already had the embrasure — the only one that can be used — cut large enough to receive a barrel [of supplies].[/quote] Thomas did not receive the message until April 26.

P.G.T. Beauregard

Meanwhile, Confederates surrounding Fort Sumter were anxiously awaiting the arrival of any U.S. relief effort. General P.G.T. Beauregard, commanding the southerners, expected it tonight. Commanders of Confederate ships outside the harbor were warning him that the nights were so dark, U.S. ships could effectively sneak into the harbor. They also wanted to position themselves so as to avoid any artillery fire Rebel coast batteries might direct at the federal ships.

Beauregard also had direct orders now from the Confederate war department. If Anderson did not surrender the fort, Beauregard was to reduce it — that is, shell it into submission. The Confederate States of America had decided to start civil war.

[url=http://ehistory.osu.edu/osu/sources/recordView.cfm?Content=001/0300]Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Vol. 1, pp. 260-300.[/url]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>