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Commissioners' last Communication.
had nothing but the welfare of the people of the two Confederacies at heart.
"Your Government has not chosen to meet the undersigned in the conciliatory and peaceful spirit in which they are commissioned. Persistently wedded to those fatal theories of construction of the Federal Constitution always rejected by the statesmen of the South, and adhered to by those of the Administration school until they have produced their natural and often-predicted results of the destruction of the Union, under which we might have continued to live happily and gloriously to gether, had the spirit of the ancestry who framed the common Constitution animated the hearts of all their sons you now, with a persistence untaught and uncured by the ruin which has been wrought, refuse to recognize the great fact presented to you of a complete and successful revolution; you close your eyes to the existence of the Government founded upon it; and ignore the high duties of moderation and humanity which should attach to you in dealing with this great fact. Had you met the issues with the frankness and manliness with which the undersigned were instructed to present them to you and to treat them, the undersigned had not now the melancholy duty to return home and tell their Government and their countrymen that their earnest and ceaseless efforts in behalf of peace had been futile, and that the Government of the United States meant to subjugate them by force of arms.
Whatever may be the result, impartial history will record the innocence of the Government of the Confederate States, and place the responsibility of the blood and mourning that may ensue upon those who have denied the great fundamental doctrine of American liberty, that governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed,' and who have set naval and land armaments in motion to subject the people of one portion of the land to the will of another portion. That that can never be done while a freeman survives in the Confederate States to wield a weapon, the undersigned appeal to past history to prove. These military demonstrations against the people of the Seceded States are certainly far from being in keeping and consistency with the theory of the Secretary of State, maintained in his Memorandum, that those States are still component parts of the late American Union, as the undersigned are not aware of any constitutional power in the President of the United States to levy war without the consent of Congress, upon a foreign people, much less upon any portion of the people of the United States.
"The undersigned, like the Secretary of State, have no purpose to invite or engage in discussion' of the subject on which their two Governments are
The Confederate Commissioners' last Communication."
so irreconcilably at variance. It is this variance that has broken up the old Union, the disintegration of which has only begun. It is proper, however, to advise you that it were well to dismiss the hopes you seem to entertain that, by any of the modes indicated, the people of the Confederate States will ever be brought to submit to the authority of the Government of the United States. You are dealing with delusions, too, when you seek to separate our people from our Government, and to characterize the deliberate, sovereign act of the people as a perversion of a temporary and partisan excitement.' If you cherish these dreams you will be awakened from them, and find them as unreal and unsubstantial as others in which you have recently indulged. The undersigned would omit the performance of an obvious duty were they to fail to make known to the Government of the United States that the people of the Confederate States have declared their independence with a full knowledge of all the responsibilities of that act, and with as firm a determination to maintain it by all the means with which nature has endowed them, as that which sus tained their fathers when they threw off the authority of the British crown.
"The undersigned clearly understand that you have declined to appoint a day to enable them to lay the objects of the mission with which they are charged, before the President of the United States, because so to do would be to recognize the independence and separate nationality of the Confederate States. This is the vein of thought that pervades the Memorandum before us. The truth of history requires that it should distinctly appear upon the record that the undersigned did not ask the Government of the United States to recognize the independence of the Confederate States. They only asked audience to adjust, in a spirit of amity and peace, the new relations springing from a manifest and accomplished revolution in the Government of the late Federal Union. Your refusal to entertain these overtures for a peaceful solution, the active naval and military preparations of this Government, and a formal notice to the commanding General of the Confederate forces in the harbor of Charleston, that the President intends to provision Fort Sumter by forcible means, if necessary, are viewed by the undersigned, and can only be received by the world, as a declaration of war against the Confederate States; for the President of the United States knows that Fort Sumter cannot be provisioned without the effusion of blood. The undersigned, in behalf of their Government and people, accept the gage of battle thus thrown down to them; and appealing to God and the judgment of mankind for the righteousness of their cause, the people of the
O F THE COMMISSIONERS.
The Confederate Commissioners' last Communication.
just exposition of the facts of
their official note of March 12th.
"It is proper to add that, during these twentythree days, two gentlemen of official distinction as high as that of the personage hitherto alluded to, aided the undersigned as intermediaries in these unofficial negotiations for peace.
"This communication cannot be properly closed without adverting to the date of your Memorandum. The official note of the undersigned, of the 12th March, was delivered to the Assistant Secretary of State on the 13th of that month, the gentleman who delivered it informing him that the Secretary of this Commission would call at twelve o'clock, noon, on the next day, for an answer. At the appointed hour, Mr. Pickett did call, and was informed by the Assistant Secretary of State that the engagements of the Secretary of State had prevented him from giving the note his attention. The Assistant Secretary of State then asked for the address of Messrs. Crawford and Forsyth, the members of the Commission then present in this city, took note of the address on a card, and engaged to send whatever reply might be made, to their lodgings. Why this was not done it is proper should be here explained. The Memorandum is dated March 15th, and was not The undersigned, Commissioners of the Condelivered until April 8th. Why was it withheld during federate States of America, having thus made anthe intervening twenty-three days? In the post-swer to all they deem material in the Memorandum script to your Memorandum you say it was defiled in the Department on the 15th of March last, layed, as was understood, with their (Messrs. For- have the honor to be, syth and Crawford's) consent.' This is true; but it is also true that on the 15th of March, Messrs. Forsyth and Crawford were assured by a person occupying a high official position in the Government, and who, as they believed, was speaking by authority, that Fort Sumter would be evacuated within a very few days, and that no measure changing the existing status prejudicially to the Confederate States, as respects Fort Pickens, was then contemplated; and these assurances were subsequently repeated, with the addition that any contemplated change as respects Pickens, would be notified to us. On the 1st of April we were again informed that there might be an attempt to supply Fort Sumter with provisions, but that Governor Pickens should have previous notice of this attempt. There was no suggestion of any reinforcements. The undersigned did not hesitate to believe that these assurances expressed the intentions of the Administration at the time, or, at all events, of prominent members of that Administration. delay was assented to, for the express purpose of attaining the great end of the mission of the undersigned, to wit: a pacific solution of existing complications. The inference deducible from the date of your Memorandum, that the undersigned had, of their own volition and without cause, consented to this long hiatus in the grave duties with which they were charged, is therefore not consistent with a
"A true copy of the original, by me delivered to Mr. F. W. Seward, Assistant Secretary of State of the United States, at eight o'clock in the evening of April 9th, 1861.
"Attest, J. T. PICKETT,
"Secretary, &c., &c." "DEPARTMENT OF STATE, "WASHINGTON, April 10, 1861. "Messrs. Forsyth, Crawford, and Roman, having been apprised by a Memorandum which has been delivered to them, that the Secretary of State is not at liberty to hold official intercourse with them, will, it is presumed, expect no notice from him of the new communication which they have addressed to him under date of the 9th inst., beyond the simple acknowledgment of the receipt thereof, which he hereby very cheerfully gives."
"A true copy of the original received by the Commissioners of the Confederate States, this 10th day of April, 1861.
J. T. PICKETT,
Withdrawal of the
The excitement attendant upon the vast military preparations then making by the Federal authorities, in Washington as
Powerful Sympathy for the Administration.
well as in Philadelphia, New York, and Bos- Richmond, with the knowledge and assent ton, rendered the movements of the South-of the Executive at Montgomery. General ern Commissioners scarcely noticed or noted. Scott trusted more to his own vigilance and Their mission never had the sympathy of power of arms than to Southern honor, and, any large class in the loyal States, and the in every instance, frustrated the designs entreatment of the entire question, by Mr. tertained against the city, by traitors within Seward, obtained the endorsement of nine- it and rebels in arms without. tenths of the people*—such was the majority A dispatch from Washin favor of the policy of resistance to revolu- ington, April 10th, said: tion. The Commissioners left Washington "Mr. Lincoln, and the for the South, on the morning of April 10th. great majority of the Cabinet who entertain In Washington all was the policy inaugurated, are receiving hourly Attempt to Seize stir and excitement. The assurances of the favor with which that Washington. presence of Colonel Ben policy is received. The North seems a unit; McCullough, in the vicinity of the Capital, but it is not the North alone that sends the gave currency to the rumor of a coup de main, most hearty commendations. Strange as it which the hardy Texan was already pre- may seem, the Border States are quite as pared to execute. Report had it that three earnest as the North. They seem to hail thousand Virginians and a large body of the positive position of the Administration Maryland rowdies were already enlisted in the as a prospective bulwark, protecting them enterprise of securing the Capital of the from the desolation, anarchy, and taxation Union-which, in event of hostilities between of secession. I shall be much mistaken, if the sections, would become a point of im- the results do not prove that a firm maintemense strategic and moral importance. The nance of the rights of the General Governlynx-eye of the General-in-Chief was on the ment is the sole preventive of Border State conspirators, however; and the enrollment secession." This indicated the state of pubof the District Militia, (April 8-12th,) under lic sentiment very correctly, so far as it apcommand of Adjutant-General McDowell, plied to the Free States. Throughout the (afterward Major-General,) together with North the slumbering fires of patriotism the presence in the city and vicinity of sev- were hourly gathering strength, and only eral strong detachments of United States awaited the boom of Sumter's guns to burst troops, (regulars,) served to disconcert the forth in mighty strength against the revolu schemes of the reckless ranger. That the tionists. The Border States were so divided capture of the Capital was contemplated, in sentiment and sympathy, that their loyalty admits of no doubt; indeed, there is evi- was questioned-a doubt only confirmed by dence that the plan of assault, and the dis- the negative, and not too courteous, reply to position of the command, were matured at the President's call for troops.
* See Appendix page 472, for the exposition made by Judge Campbell. The Southern view of the course pursued by Mr. Seward, it will be there seen, is that he acted with persistent deception and treachery.
THE BOMBARDMENT OF FORT
UPON the reception of information that the Federal Government designed to provision Fort Sumter, the following note winged its way over the wires:
"CHARLESTON, April 8th. "L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War: "An authorized messenger from President Lincoln just informed Governor Pickens and myself that provisions will be sent to Fort Sumter peaceably, or otherwise by force.
"G. T. BEAUREGARD."
No answer was returned until April 10th. The issue now forced, of initiating war or of acknowledging the supremacy of the United States Government over its forts, compelled the Secessionists to pause for a moment before taking the responsible step. A prolonged council of the leading chiefs of the secession conspiracy was held at Montgomery, where many of them were gathered. The war element which they had evoked now held the mastery. If they would have chosen the calmer and more discreet course of allowing the fort to be provisioned, the twenty thousand wild spirits in arms would have precipitated the conflict. If the leaders would lead they must not be led, now that the revolution had to encounter opposition in the field. The programme was determined upon, and the following correspondence rapidly followed:
"Gen. G. T. BEAUREGARD, Charleston:
"If you have no doubt of the authorized character of the agent who communicated to you the intention of the Washington Government, to supply Fort Sumter by force, you will at once demand its evacuation, and if this is refused, proceed in such a manner as you may determine, to reduce it. Answer. "L. P. WALKER, Sec. of War."
"Gen. BEAUREGARD, Charleston :
"Unless there are especial reasons connected with your own condition, it is considered proper that you should make the demand at an early hour. "L. P. WALKER, Sec. of War." "CHARLESTON, April 10. "L. P. WALKER, Secretary of War, Montgomery: "The reasons are special for twelve o'clock. "G. T. BEAUREGARD." "HEADQUARTERS PROVISIONAL ARMY C.S.A., し CHARLESTON, S. C., April 11, 1861-2 P. M. "SIR: The Government of the Confederate States has hitherto forborne from any hostile demonstration against Fort Sumter, in the hope that the Government of the United States, with a view to the amicable adjustment of all questions between the two Governments, and to avert the calamities of war, would voluntarily evacuate it. There was reason at one time to believe that such would be
the course pursued by the Government of the United States; and under that impression my Government has refrained from making any demand for the surrender of the fort.
"But the Confederate States can no longer delay assuming actual possession of a fortification com
manding the entrance of one of their harbors, and
necessary to its defense and security.
"I am ordered by the Government of the Confederate States to demand the evacuation of Fort Sumter. My Aids, Colonel Chesnut and Captain Lee, are authorized to make such demand of you. All proper facilities will be afforded for the removal of yourself and command, together with company arms and property, and all private property, to any post in the United States which you may elect. The flag which you have upheld so long and with so much fortitude, under the most trying cir
cumstances, may be saluted by you on taking it | enter into such an agreement with you. You are therefore requested to communicate to them an open answer.
"Colonel Chesnut and Captain Lee will, for a
reasonable time, await your answer.
"I am, sir, very respectfully,
"Your obedient servant,
"G. T. BEAUREGARD, "Brigadier-General Commanding.
"Major ROBERT ANDERSON, Commanding at Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, S. C."
HEADQUARTERS, FORT SUMTER, S. C., S. C., April 11th, 1861. "GENERAL: I have the honor 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 honor and of my obligations to my Government prevent my compliance.
"Thanking you for the fair, manly, and courteous terms proposed, and for the high compliment paid me,
"I am, General, very respectfully,
"Gen. BEAUREGARD, Charleston:
"We do not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter, if Major Anderson will state the time at which, as indicated by him, he will evacuate, and agree that, in the mean time, he will not use his guns against us, unless ours should be employed against Fort Sumter. You are thus to avoid the effusion of blood. If this or its equivalent be refused, reduce the fort as your judgment decides to be most practicable.
"L. P. WALKER, Sec. of War." "HEADQUARTERS PROVISIONAL ARMY C. S. A., CHARLESTON, April 11, 1861-11 P. M. "MAJOR: In consequence of the verbal observations made by you to my Aids, Messrs. Chesnut and Lee, in relation to the condition of your supplies, and that you would in a few days be starved out if our guns did not batter you to pieces-or words to that effect;-and desiring no useless effusion of blood, I communicated both the verbal observation
"I remain, Major, very respectfully,
"Your obedient servant,
"G. T. BEAUREGARD,*
"Major ROBERT ANDERSON, Commanding at Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor. S. C."
"HEADQUARTERS, FORT SUMTER, S. C.. | "2.30 A. M., April 12, 1861.
"GENERAL: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your second communication of the 11th inst., by Colonel Chesnut, and to state, in reply, that cordially uniting with you in the desire to avoid the useless effusion of blood, I will, if provided with the proper and necessary means of transportation, evacuate Fort Sumter by noon on the 15th instant, should I not receive, prior to that time, controlling instructions from my Government, or additional supplies; and that I will not, in the mean time, open my fire upon your forces, unless compelled to do so by some hostile act against this fort, or the flag of my Government, by the forces under your command, or by some portion of them, or by the perpetration of some act showing a hostile intention on your part against this fort, or the flag it bears.
JAMES CHESNUT, Jr., Aid-de-Camp. "STEPHEN D. LEE, Captain S. C. Army and Aide-de-Camp. "Major ROBERT ANDERSON, United States Army, Commanding Fort Sumter." Punctually, at the hour
and your written answer to my communication to indicated-twenty minutes Opening of the Firemy Government.
past four A. M.-the roar
"If you will state the time at which you will of a mortar from Sullivan island announced evacuate Fort Sumter, and agree that in the mean time you will not use your guns against us, unless the war begun. A second bomb from the ours shall be employed against Fort Sumter, we same battery followed; then Fort Moul will abstain from opening fire upon you. Colonel trie answered with the thunder of a columChesnut and Captain Lee are authorized by me to biad; Cumming's Point next, and the