War of the Rebellion: Serial 001 Page 0118 OPERATIONS IN CHARLESTON HARBOR, S. C. Chapter I.

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evidence of a design to proceed to a hostile act" on the part of the authorities of South Carolina, which as not yet been alleged. Still, he is a brave and honorable officer, and justice requires that he should not be condemned without a fair hearing.

Be this as it may, when I learned that Major Anderson had left Fort Moultrie, and proceeded to Fort Sumter, my first prompting were to command him to return to his former position, and there await the contingencies presented in his instructions. This could only have been done with any degree of safety to the command by the concurrence of the South Carolina authorities. But before any steps could possibly have been taken in this direction, we received information, dated on the 28th instant that the "palmetto flag floated out to the breeze at Castle Pinckney and a large military force went over last night (the 27th) to Fort Moultrie." Thus the authorities of South Carolina, without waiting or asking for any explanation, and doubtless believing, as you have expressed it that, the officer had acted not only without but against my orders, on the very next day after the night when the movement was made, seized by a military force two of the three Federal forts in the harbor of Charleston, and have covered them under their own flag instead of that of the United States. At this gloomy period of our history starting events succeed each other rapidly. On the very day, the 27th instant, that possession of these two forts was taken the palmetto flag was raised over the Federal custom-house and post-office in Charleston; and on the same day every officer of the customs, collector, naval officer, surveyor, and appraisers, resigned their offices. And this, although it was well known from the language of my message that, as an executive officer, I felt myself bound to collect the revenue at the port of Charleston under the existing laws.

In the harbor of Charleston we now find three forts confronting each other, over all of which the Federal flag floated only four days ago; but now over two of them this flag has been supplanted, and the palmetto flag has been substituted in its stead. It is under all these circumstances that I am urged immediately to withdraw the troops from the harbor of Charleston, and am informed that without this, negotiation is impossible. This I cannot do; this I will not do. Such an idea was never thought of by me in any possible contingency. No allusion had ever been made to it in any communication between myself and any human being. But the inference is that I am bound to withdraw the troops from the only fort remaining in the possession of the United States in the harbor of Charleston, because the officer there in command of all the forts thought proper, without instructions, to change his position from one of them to another. I cannot admit the justice of any such inference. And at this point of writing I have received information by telegraph from Captain Humphreys in command of the arsenal at Charleston, that it "has to-day (Sunday, the 30th) been taken by force of arms." Comment is needless. It is estimated that the property of the United States in this arsenal was worth half a milition of dollars.

After this information I have only to add that, whilst it is my duty to defend Fort Sumter as a portion of public property of the United States against hostile attacks, from whatever quarter they may come, by such means as I may possess for this purpose, I do not perceive how such a defense can be construed into a menace against the city of Charleston.*

With great personal regard, I remain, yours, very respectfully,

JAMES BUCHANAN.

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*See Commissioners' reply, January 1, 1861, post.

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