A statement of my errors, if errors they be, will enable you to correct them the more easily.
I. It seems now to be settled that Major Anderson and his command at Fort Sumter are not to be withdrawn. The United States Government is not to surrender its last hold upon its sown property in South Carolina. Major Anderson has a position so nearly impregnable that an attack upon him at present is wholly improbable, and he is supplied with provisions which will last him very well for two months. In the mean time fort Sumter is invested on every side by the avowedly hostile forces of South Carolina. It is in a state of siege. They have already prevented communication between its commander and his own Government, both by sea and land. There is no doubt that they intend to continue this state of things, as far as it is in their power to do so. In the course of a few weeks from this time it will become very difficult for him to hold out. The constant labor and anxiety of his men will exhaust their physical power, and this exhaustion, of course, will proceed very much more rapidly as soon as they begin to get short of provision.
If the troops remain in Fort Sumter without any change in their condition, and the hostile attitude of South Carolina remains as it is now, the question of Major Anderson's surrender is one of time only. If the is not to be relieved, is it not entirely clear that he should be ordered to surrender at once? It having been determined that the latter order shall not be given, it follows that relief must be sent him at some time before it is too late to save him.
II. This brings me to the second question; When should the re-enforcements and provisions be sent? Can we justify ourselves in delaying the performance of that duty?
The authorities of South Carolina are improving every moment, and increasing their ability to prevent re-enforcement every hour, while every day that rises sees us with a power diminished to send in the requisite relief. I think it certain that Major Anderson could be put in possession of all the defensive powers he needs with very little risk to this Government, if the efforts were made immediately; but it is impossible to predict how much blood or money it may cost if it be postponed for two or three months.
The fact that other persons are to have charge of the Government before the worst comes to the worst has no influence upon my mind, and I take it for granted will not be regarded as a just element in making up your opinion.
The anxiety which an American citizen most feel about any future event which may affect the existence of the country is not less if he expects it to occur on the 5th of March than it would be if he knew it was going to happen on the 3rd.
III. I am persuaded that the difficulty of relieving Major Anderson has been very much magnified to the minds of some persons. From you I shall be able to ascertain whether I am mistaken or they. I am thoroughly satisfied that the battery on Morris Island can give no serious trouble. A vessel going in where the Star of the West went will not be within the reach of the battery's guns longer than from six to ten minutes. The number of shots that could be fired upon her in that time may be easily calculated, and I think the chances of her being seriously injured can be demonstrated by simple arithmetic to be very small. A very unlucky shot might cripple her, to be sure, and therefore the risk is something. But then it is a maxim, not less in war than in peace, that where nothing is ventured nothing can be gained. The removal of the buoys has undoubtedly made the navigation of the channel more difficult. But there are pilots outside of Charleston, and