War of the Rebellion: Serial 001 Page 0103 Chapter I. CORRESPONDENCE, ETC. - UNION.

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with the remark by the Colonel of Ordnance that "it is probable the issue has not and will not be made without further orders." No further orders have been given, and no report or other information on the subject has reached this office except the inclosed telegram. That is so indefinite (except as to the fact that Captain Foster has received the forty old muskets) as to be difficult to understand, and, consequently, to answer.* It does not state by whom the "little talk" about the issue was had, nor who asks Captain Foster to return the muskets. From all the indications I am doubtful about the genuineness of the dispatch. If answered at all I think the best reply will be: "If you don't want the muskets, return them."

Respectfully, your obedient servant,


Captain of Ordnance.


CHARLESTON, December 19, 1860.


Ordnance Department;

I received from the arsenal on the 17th forty old muskets ordered to be issued to me November 1. There is some little talk about it, and I am asked to return them. Shall I return them or keep them?


Captain, Engineers, U. S. Army.


Washington, December 21, 1860.


First Artillery, Commanding Fort Moultrie, S. C.:

SIR: In the verbal instructions communicated to you by Major Buell,+ you are directed to hold possession of the forts in the harbor of Charleston, and, if, attacked, to defend yourself to the last extremity. Under these instructions, you might infer that you are required to make a vain and useless sacrifice of your own life and the lives of the men under your command upon a mere point of honor. This is far from the President's intentions. You are to exercise a sound military discretion on this subject.

It is neither expected nor desired that you should expose your own life or that of your men in a hopeless conflict in defense of these forts. If they are invested or attacked by a force so superior that resistance would, in your judgment be a useless waste of life, it will be your duty to yield to necessity and make the best terms in your power.

This will be the conduct of an honorable, brave, and humane officer, and you will be fully justified in such action. These orders are strictly confidential, and not to be communicated even to the officers under your command, without close necessity.#

Very respectfully,



*See Foster to De Russy, December 20, 1860, p. 100.

+See Buell's memorandum, December 11, 1860, p. 89.

#This letter delivered to Major Anderson December 23, by Captain John Withers, A. A. G.