-- Initial Problems at Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens --

March 11-12, 1861

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Lincoln Responds

Faced with the shocking news from Major Anderson and the conflicting recommendations about what to do, Lincoln took the following steps:

On March 11, he issued General Scott a broad reminder to "exercise all possible vigilance for the maintenance of all the places within the military departments of the United States." He specifically directed Scott to reinforce Fort Pickens, the more accessible of the two forts.

The following day, March 12, Scott dispatched orders to Captain Israel Vogdes, commander of the army's troops aboard a ship lying off Fort Pickens, to "re-enforce Fort Pickens" and to hold the fort. The message was taken a board the steamer Crusader, which left New York for the Gulf of Mexico on March 15. In taking this action, Lincoln was, in effect, terminating the truce that the Buchanan administration had arranged with Florida.


Bibliography: Current, Lincoln and the First Shot, p. 51; Nicolay and Hay, Lincoln, 3: 393-94; Lincoln, Collected Works, ed. Basler, 4: 280; OR, p. 360.

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