Originally from: Letters from Linden
by Fred Dellinger, CCHS Member
Date: May 2011
THE CIVIL WAR AND SOUTHERN MARYLAND – 150 YEARS LATER
contributed by CCHS Member Fred Dellinger
Last month in this Civil War feature we presented excerpts from President Lincoln’s March 4, 1861, inaugural speech addressing the Secession of South Carolina and six other states. He further stated that he would not resort to violence to retain the wayward states. In early April, 1861, a mere four weeks after this speech, South Carolina placed Federal property, Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina under siege. The following written communications – from the Commanding Officer of the South Carolina confederate forces, to and from the Commanding Officer of Fort Sumter – written in the extraordinarily formal and polite manner that was popular for such communications throughout the 18th through 19th centuries, offer little hint of the horrible conflict to come.
Headquarters, Provisional Army, C.S.A.
Charleston, S. C., April 11, 1861
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 commanding 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 Aides, Colonel Chestnut 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 elect. The flag which you have upheld so long and with so much fortitude, under the most trying circumstances, may be saluted by you on taking it down.
Colonel Chestnut and Captain Lee will, for a reasonable time, await your answer.
I am sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant, G. T. Beauregard
Headquarters, Fort Sumter, S.C.
April 11, 1861
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 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, your obedient servant,
Major U.S. Army, Commanding
Fort Sumter, S.C.
April 12, 1861, 3:20 a.m.
By authority of Brigadier-General Beauregard, commanding the Provisional Forces of the Confederate States, we have the honor to notify you that he will open the fire of his batteries on Fort Sumter in one hour from this time. We have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servants, James Chestnut, Jr. Aide-de-Camp.
Stephen D. Lee, Captain S.C. Army and Aide-de-Camp. Reference 1. And thus the Great Conflict began … more next month … the ever growing role of Anna Ella Carroll (who?) and other Marylanders in helping to prevent the state of Maryland from seceding from the Union.
1. Reference: Our Nation’s Archive, The History of the United States in Documents, edited by Erik Bruun & Jay Crosby,
copyright 1999 by Black Dong & Leventhal Publishers, Inc. pages 348, 349.