Chronology of the Fort Sumter Crisis


Two other sources of value which were often cited by Catton, Current, Nevins, or Swanberg, but which the site publisher has not seen himself, are: Reminiscences of Forts Sumter and Moultrie, by Abner Doubleday; and The Genesis of the Civil War: The Story of Sumter, by Samuel Crawford. Both Doubleday and Crawford were officers in the Fort Sumter garrison.

Nov. 6, 1860

Abraham Lincoln wins election as 16th President of the United States.
Nov. 8, 1860 Col. John L. Gardner, commanding United States forces in Charleston Harbor, orders Capt. Truman Seymour, of his command, to transfer arms from the Charleston arsenal to Fort Moultire. The shipment is blocked by Charleston civilians.
Nov. 15, 1860
Maj. Robert Anderson is ordered to assume command of the United States forces in Charleston Harbor, replacing Col. Gardner.
Nov. 22, 1860 Maj. Anderson arrives in Charleston.
Nov. 23, 1860 Anderson requests reinforcements from the War Department.
Dec. 4, 1860 President Buchanan's Fourth Annual Message read to Congress.
Dec. 8, 1860 President Buchanan meets with four members of the South Carolina Congressional delegation.
Dec. 11, 1860 Maj. Don Carlos Buell arrives in Charleston with verbal orders for Anderson. Buell makes a written memorandum of the verbal orders.
Dec 17, 1860
South Carolina Governor Francis Pickens requests permission of President Buchanan to send a garrison of no more than 25 men to Fort Sumter.
Lt. J.G. Foster, of the Federal garrison, draws 40 muskets from the Federal arsenal in Charleston.
Dec. 19, 1860 Foster is ordered by the Secretary of War, John Floyd, to return the muskets, which he does.
Dec. 20, 1860 South Carolina convention passes an ordinance of secession.

Secretary of War Floyd orders 125 heavy cannon to be shipped from Pittsburgh to incomplete fortifications in the Deep South.

Dec. 25, 1860 Buchanan learns of Floyd's efforts to ship cannon to southern forts, and countermands the orders.
Dec. 26, 1860 Maj. Anderson moves his command from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter.
Dec. 27, 1860 Gov. Pickens demands that Anderson return to Fort Moultrie; Anderson refuses. South Carolina troops occupy Fort Moultrie and Castle Pinckney.
Dec. 28, 1860 Gen. Winfield Scott writes to President Buchanan, advocating the sending of reinforcements to Fort Sumter.
Dec. 29, 1860 Floyd resigns as Secretary of War.
Dec. 30, 1860 South Carolina seizes the Charleston Arsenal.

Gen. Scott again writes to Buchanan, urging the reinforcement of Fort Sumter.

Dec. 31, 1860 Postmaster-General Joseph Holt named Secretary of War, replacing Floyd.

President Buchanan refuses to order Maj. Anderson back to Fort Moultrie, and instead issues orders to send reinforcements and provisions to him at Fort Sumter.

Jan. 2, 1860 South Carolina seizes Fort Johnson, in Charleston Harbor.
Jan. 5, 1860 The Star of the West sails from New York with 250 recruits and supplies for Fort Sumter on board.
Jan. 7, 1861 The House of Representatives passes a resolution supporting Maj. Anderson's shift from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter.
Jan. 8, 1861 Secretary of the Interior Jacob Thompson, the last Southerner in Buchanan's Cabinet, resigns, but not before he telegraphs South Carolina officials about the mission of the Star of the West.
Jan. 9, 1861 The Star of the West is fired upon as it enters Charleston Harbor, and is driven off.
Jan. 11, 1861 South Carolina demands that Maj. Anderson surrender Fort Sumter; he refuses.
Jan. 13, 1861 J.W. Hayne, commissioner from South Carolina to the United States, arrives in Washington to negotiate the status of Fort Sumter.
Jan. 14, 1861 Virginia'a legislature calls for a secession convention.
Jan. 19, 1861 Virginia invites states to a convention in Washington, to propose compromise measures aimed at solving the crisis. This leads to the so-called Washington Peace Conference.
Feb. 1, 1861 South Carolina's demand that Fort Sumter be turned over to the state is presented to President Buchanan by Commissioner Hayne.
Feb. 4, 1861 Washington Peace Conference opens.

Virginia holds elections for delegates to her secession convention, with outright secessionists losing badly.

Feb. 6, 1861 Secretary of War Holt informs Hayne that under no circumstances will Fort Sumter be surrendered.
Feb. 8, 1861 The provisional Constitution of the Confederate States of America is approved in Montgomery, Alabama. The next day, Jefferson Davis would be elected as provisional President, and Alexander Stephens as provisional Vice-President.
Feb. 9, 1861 Tennessee rejects a call for a secession convention by a vote of 68,000 to 59,500.

The U.S.S. Brooklyn arrives at Fort Pickens, off of Pensacola, Florida, carrying reinforcements.

Feb. 11, 1861 Lincoln leaves Springfield, Illinois, for Washington, D.C. He stops overnight in Indianapolis where he speaks to a crowd outside his hotel.
Feb. 12, 1861 Lincoln travels to Cincinnati, where he again speaks to a crowd at his hotel.
Feb. 13, 1861 Lincoln addresses the state legislature in Columbus, Ohio.

Virginia secession convention opens.

Feb. 14, 1861 Lincoln leaves Columbus for Pittsburgh; after giving a speech he leaves for Cleveland.
Feb. 16, 1861 Lincoln leaves Cleveland for Buffalo, New York.
Feb. 18, 1861 Brig. Gen. David Twiggs surrenders the United States troops in Texas to the state authorities.

Lincoln leaves Buffalo for Albany and a speech before the New York legislature.

Feb. 19, 1861 Lincoln leaves Albany for New York City.
Feb. 20, 1861 In a meeting with Mayor Fernando Wood of New York, Lincoln says, "There is nothing that can ever bring me willingly to consent to the destruction of this Union."
Feb. 21, 1861 The Lincoln party leaves New York for Philadelphia.
Feb. 22, 1861 Lincoln addresses Washington's Birthday celebration at Independence Hall in Philadelphia, then leaves for Harrisburg, where he learns of suspected threats against him in Baltimore.
Feb. 23, 1861 After an all night train ride in secret, Lincoln arrives in Washington.
Feb. 27, 1861 Final day of the Washington Peace Conference.

Lincoln meets with delegation from the Peace Conference, and offers to evacuate Fort Sumter if the Virginia secession convention adjourns.<date??>

Confederate President Davis appoints three commissioners (Martin Crawford, John Forsyth, and A.B. Roman) to negotiate with the Federal government.

Feb. 28, 1861 North Carolina rejects a call for a secession convention.
March 1, 1861
Davis assigns Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard to the command of C.S. forces in Charleston Harbor.
March 3, 1861 Beauregard arrives in Charleston.

Gen. Winfield Scott writes to Secretary of State (designate) William Seward that he does not think Fort Sumter can be relieved.

March 4, 1861 Abraham Lincoln sworn in as the 16th President of the United States; in his inauguration speech, he pledges "to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts."

Secretary of War Holt receives word from Maj. Anderson that, without 20,000 men in reinforcements, he cannot hold Fort Sumter; additionally, his supplies will not allow him to hold out for much longer than six weeks. This note is communicated to President Lincoln on March 5th.

Gov. Pickens of South Carolina telegraphs the Tredegar Iron Works in Richmond, Virginia: "Please send 400 shells for Dahlgren guns in addition to those already ordered."

March 8, 1861 The Confederate Commissioners, using California Sen. William Gwin as an intermediary, send a memo to Secretary of State Seward, proposing to delay action against Fort Sumter for 20 days in return for a promise that the existing military position would be preserved.
March 9, 1861 First meeting of Lincoln's Cabinet. The President asks General Scott's opinion as to how long Anderson can hold out, and whether or not Fort Sumter can be relieved. The consensus is that the fort should be evacuated.
March 11, 1861 General Scott replies to Lincoln, saying that Anderson had hard bread, rice, and flour for only 26 days, and salt meat for 48; and to relieve the fort it would take a force of 25,000 men, adding, "As a practical military question the time for succoring Fort Sumter with any means at hand had passed away nearly a month ago. Since then a surrender under assault or from starvation has been merely a question of time."
March 14, 1861 Associate Justice John Campbell, acting as intermediary between the Confederate commissioners and Secretrary of State Seward, tells Seward that hostilities might break out at any moment.
March 15, 1861 Lincoln's Cabinet declines to support an expedition to relieve Fort Sumter; only Postmaster General Montgomery Blair is opposed to evacuation.

Justice Campbell tells Commissioner Crawford that Sumter will be evacuated in five days.

March 18, 1861 Confederate General Braxton Bragg, commanding at Pensacola, cuts off passage of supplies to Fort Pickens.

The Arkansas secession convention votes 39 to 35 against secession, but then votes unanimously to put the secession question before the people of the state in an August referendum.

March 19, 1861 President Lincoln asks General Scott to send a "competent person" to Charleston in order to obtain "accurate information in regard to the command of Major Anderson in Fort Sumter." Scott selects Assistant Secretary of the Navy Gustavus Fox.
March 21, 1861 Fox visits Charleston and Fort Sumter, where Maj. Anderson tells him he can hold out until April 15, and that no relief effort could succeed.
March 22, 1861 Stephen Hurlbut and Ward Hill Lamon, two Illinois acquaintences of Lincoln's, leave Washington for Charleston on a mission from Lincoln.
March 24-25, 1861 Hurlbut visits old friends in Charleston and talks at length with James Petigru, who considers himself the only Unionist remaining in Charleston. Lamon meets with Gov. Pickens and is allowed out to Fort Sumter to see Maj. Anderson. Lamon gives the impression to everyone he meets that Fort Sumter is to be evacuated. The two men leave Charleston for the return trip on the evening of the 25th.
March 28, 1861 Lincoln's Cabinet, meeting informally after a state dinner, reverses itself, decides to send a relief expedition to Charleston Harbor.
March 29, 1861 Lincoln orders a relief expedition for Fort Sumter to be organized.
March 31, 1861 Lincoln orders a relief expedition for Fort Pickens to be organized.
April 1, 1861 C.S. Gen. Beauregard telegraphs his government that his batteries would all be in place in a few days, and asks, "What instructions?"
April 4, 1861 (11:00 a.m.) Lincoln meets with Virginia Unionist John Baldwin, and allegedly offers to evacuate Fort Sumter if Virginia's secession convention will adjourn. (The evidence on this matter is controversial.)

(Afternoon) The Virginia secession convention votes 89-45 against an ordinance of secession.

Later in the day Lincoln orders the relief expedition to Fort Sumter to go ahead.

April 6, 1861 Lincoln sends a special messenger to Gov. Pickens of South Carolina, informing him of the mission of the relief expedition, and promising him that if no resistence is offered, no troops, arms or ammunition would be moved into the fort.
April 7, 1861 Beauregard cuts off Fort Sumter's mail and daily market supplies.

Virginia Unionist John Minor Botts meets with Lincoln and learns of the April 4th proposal to John Baldwin; like the Baldwin meeting, this encounter is controversial.

April 9, 1861 The Confederate Cabinet concurs with President Davis's order to General Beauregard that Fort Sumter should be reduced before the relief fleet arrives.
April 10, 1861 Confederate Secretary of War Leroy Pope Walker orders Beauregard to demand the evacuation of Fort Sumter, under threat of bombardment.

The Sumter relief fleet begins to leave New York harbor.

April 11, 1861 (2:20 p.m.) Gen. Beauregard demands the evacuation of Fort Sumter.

(5:10, approx.) Anderson refuses, but adds, "if you do not batter us to pieces we will be starved out in a few days." Beauregard communicates this comment to the Confederate government and asks for instructions.

(9:10 p.m.) Beauregard is instructed: "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," then Fort Sumter should not be bombarded.

April 12, 1861 (12:45 a.m.) Beauregard asks Anderson if he can comply with the demands of the Confederate government. Anderson offers to evacuate on April 15th at noon, but declines to promise not to use his guns in support of any operations under the United States flag. This is considered unsatisfactory.

(3:00 a.m.) Elements of the relief fleet begin to gather outside Charleston Harbor.

(3:20 a.m.) Anderson is informed that the Confederates will open fire in one hour.

(4:30 a.m.) Confederate batteries open fire on Fort Sumter.

April 13, 1861 (9:00 a.m.) Fire breaks out inside Fort Sumter and begins to threaten the magazine.

(2:30 p.m., approximately) Maj. Anderson surrenders after a 34 hour bombardment.

April 14, 1861 During the surrender ceremonies, a cannon misfires, killing Federal Private Daniel Hough and mortally wounding Pvt. Edward Galloway; four others (Privates George Fielding, John Irwin, George Pinchard, and James Hayes) are wounded, but only Fielding seriously enough to be sent to a Charleston hospital. These were the only casualties of the crisis.