-- Final Orders --

Problem 5

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Lincoln's Final Choices

Lincoln had received sobering news throughout this day. First, he had learned that Fort Pickens had not been reinforced, thus risking the fort and Santa Rosa Island to the growing Confederate military build-up. It would take days before the new relief expedition would reach the fort.

Second, Lincoln had learned from Major Anderson, whose situation was rapidly deteriorating, that southern batteries were primed to repel vessels entering Charleston Harbor. Fox's expedition to Fort Sumter might well arrive too late to save the struggling garrison, and even if it arrived in time, the probability of resistance raised the spectre of conflict and civil war .

Although Lincoln had already issued orders for the relief expeditions to proceed to Sumter and Pickens, he still had two basic options available. First, he could abort the Sumter mission. Since he had not yet notified officials in South Carolina about the Sumter fleet, he could try to avoid a likely battle or an embarrassing surrender by withdrawing from the fort, and rushing word to Union forces at Pensacola to reinforce Pickens and uphold federal authority. Or, alternatively, he could disregard the disturbing news he had received, proceed with his relief efforts, and notify South Carolina authorities of Fox's expedition.

Consider all the information and advice presented, and place yourself in Lincoln's position. What policy would you choose and why? Would you:

  1. Use the Notebook to write a brief answer explaining your decision, or use a word processing program to write a full response. To see Lincoln's decision, click "What Lincoln Did."
  2. What Lincoln Did.
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