A Plan . . . and Anxiety

March 30, 1861

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U.S. Navy Secretary Gideon Welles

One day after Abraham Lincoln decided to resupply the federal garrison at Fort Sumter, Cabinet and military officials began putting mission together. Former navy officer Gustavus V. Fox had preliminarily outlined a plan where the War Department would commission ships to carry a month’s supply of provisions, rendezvous with naval vessels outside Charleston Harbor, then proceed to Fort Sumter. Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles said the navy ships “would act as convoy, and render such assistance as would be required of them.”


One of the supply ships would be the steam frigate Powhatan[/i], a side-wheeler, which had most recently been in the West Indies and decommissioned for repairs. Welles said that as soon as Lincoln issued his order, the Powhatan[/i]was recommissioned and hastily repaired. It would join the Pawnee[/i] and theHarriet Lane[/i] as supply ships for the mission.

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The steam frigate [i]Powhatan[/i]



Meanwhile, at Fort Pickens near Pensacola, Florida, where another federal garrison had refused to hand their fort into rebel hands, the Union commander was getting nervous. Lieutenant Adam J. Slemmer reported watching up to 1,000 Confederate volunteers inhabiting, fortifying, and arming outlying works for a siege of Pickens. Slemmer said he expected another 4,000 volunteers to arrive.


“Shot and shells can be thrown from each one of . . .[their] works into Fort Pickens,” Slemmer reported.
“Fresh provisions are now denied us. If it is the intention of the Government to hold this fort, I would most respectfully suggest that the stores and supplies necessary for the effective defense of the work be forwarded immediately, with definite instructions as to their being landed.”


Sources
[url=http://libsysdigi.library.uiuc.edu/oca/Books2007-09/diaryofgideonwel00well/diaryofgideonwel00well_djvu.txt]Diary of Gideon Welles[/url]
[url=http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar;cc=moawar;q1=March%2030%2C%201861;rgn=full%20text;idno=waro0001;didno=waro0001;view=image;seq=381;page=root;size=200]Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Vol. 1, p. 365.[/url]

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