Showdown at Fort Sumter by Steve Payne
says: what if the Confederacy didn't open fire at Fort Sumter?
What is the historical significant of firing the first shot for Pearl Harbor,
the Cuban Quarantine... or Iraq - was it fundamentally unamerican as perhaps
Lincoln would have thought? Please note that the opinions expressed in this
post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
In 1861, on April 8th the
commander at Charleston Harbor, General P.G.T. Beauregard (pictured, left)
was instructed "under no circumstances are you to prevent provisions to be
sent to Fort Sumter" in a telegraph from the Confederate Secretary of War,
Leroy Pope Walker.
Since his inauguration on March 4th, President Abraham Lincoln (pictured
below, right) been under intense pressure to order the evacuation of Major
Robert Anderson and his garrison from Fort Sumter. Believing that giving
up the Fort meant giving up the Union, the decision to evacuate had been
postponed so long that the only option now appeared to be unconditional
surrender. But during the last week of March, Northern opinion against
evacuation had hardened.
The confrontation appeared to have reached a point of no turn when the
Fort ran out of provisions. But in a stroke of genius, acting upon a
suggestion from Gustavus V. Fox, Lincoln chose to resupply by sending
unarmed tugs carrying provisions instead of using warships to force
trouble was that Lincoln had only been a Commander-in-Chief for four
weeks. His only military service consisted of just thirty days as a
captain of volunteers and fifty days as a private entering the fight
against Chief Black Hawk's Sac and Fox Indian tribe under General Zachary
Records show he was an ineffective leader of men
, having been
reprimanded twice, once for failing to stop his men from stealing Army
booze and getting drunk and again for shooting off their weapons in camp.
When his thirty-day hitch as an officer was up, he signed over as a
private in an Independent Ranger company, and when that was over, in
twenty days, he reupped for thirty more in an Independent Spy Corps.
his adversary, the Confederate President Jefferson Davis (pictured, left)
had served with great distinction as the 23rd US Secretary of War. As a
result of this superior experience, Davis immediately sensed that it was a
trap to fire the first shop by attacking a "mission of humanity" bringing
"food for hungry men".
Realising that Lincoln had been outplayed by a master, fears for the
preservation of the Union began to grow.
Perhaps there were something worst than a Civil War. Cessation without
an armed struggle, or perhaps a belligerent response from the Union might
provoke intervention from the other Great Powers.
says the idea for this story originated from the source articles
original content has been repurposed to celebrate the author's genius ©
McPherson, James M. "1861: showdown at Sumter: only hours after being sworn
in, Lincoln faced the most momentous decision in presidential history"
published in the Winter 2010 Edition of American Heritage Magazine and also
Henshaw: Bits of Lincoln trivia on his 200th
For another interesting scenario for the Battle of Fort Sumter we recommend
this page on the
Google Discussions Group.
To view guest historian's comments on this post please visit the
Today in Alternate History web site.
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Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit
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explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist
superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy
Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting