War of the Rebellion: Serial 001 Page 0196 OPERATIONS IN CHARLESTON HARBOR, S.C. Chapter I.

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pulled down, and in order to prepare for this I have moved the bellows and apparatus into one of the second tier casemates. The weather is very pleasant. I received the Department letter of the 8th instant.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. G. FOSTER,

Captain, Engineers.

FORT SUMTER, S. C., March 14, 1861.

General JOS. G. TOTTEN,

Chief Engineer U. S. Army, Washington, D. C.:

GENERAL: The news received yesterday by telegraph, to the effect that orders were issued to evacuate this fort, seems to have caused an almost entire cessation of work on the batteries around us. I am not ceasing work on the preparations, although I am taking an inventory of the materials on hand, and otherwise getting ready for such orders should they actually arrive.

I have received my vouchers from town, together with my own private books and papers that were in the office. All of the office furniture, records, maps, instruments, &c., are retained by the authorities. I have here, however, most of the most useful maps and drawings.

Unless otherwise directed I shall discharge my force when the orders for evacuation arrive, and leave with the command, with my assistants, and report to you at Washington.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

J. G. FOSTER,

Captain, Engineers.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, March 15, 1861.

The honorable SECRETARY OF WAR:

MY DEAR SIR: Assuming it to be possible to now provision Fort Sumter, under all the circumstances is it wise to attempt it? Please give me your opinion in writing on this question.*

Your obedient servant,

[A. LINCOLN.]

Answer.

In reply to the letter of inquiry addressed to my by the President, whether, "assuming it to be possible now to provision Fort Sumter, under all the circumstances is it wise to attempt it," I beg leave to say that it has received the careful consideration, in the limited time I could bestow upon it, which its very grave importance demands, and that my mind has been most reluctantly forced to the conclusion that it would be unwise now to make such an attempt.

In coming to this conclusion I am free to say I am greatly influenced by the opinions of the Army officers who have expressed themselves on the subject, and who seem to concur that it is, perhaps, now impossible to succor that fort substantially, if at all, without capturing, by means of a large expedition of ships of war and troops, all the opposing batteries of South Carolina. All the officers within Fort Sumter, together with Generals Scott and Totten, express this opinion, and it would seem to me that the President would not be justified to disregard such high authority without overruling considerations of public policy.

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*The following papers marked "Answer" and as inclosures "A"-"H," are filed with the President's inquiry; they were probably submitted to the Cabinet March 15, 1861.

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