Countdown to the Civil War: April 11, 1861

General Beauregard arrives at Fort Sumter under a white flag where he demands full surrender and evacuation. Robert Anderson refuses, though he mentions that barring fresh supplies, they will soon be starved out. Privy to this information, the Confederate Secretary of War, advises Beauregard not to begin bombardment of the fort, but to wait for its inevitable surrender.

Rachel Norcross’s Diary, April 11, 1861:

Stuart is off to town, saying that until the soil has dried out, there is nothing more he can do.  I find this very irritating because even if he can’t begin plowing, he could spend a little time making sure the harnesses are oiled and the plow sharpened.  And he should see to cleaning the chicken coop.  I guess I can begin that chore and carry the droppings to what will be my kitchen garden.  I had hoped he might express concern about such unaccustomed work in my condition, but he only smiled and told me to let it wait. That, when he knows me well enough to be certain I am past waiting! I worry that I have become a nag, but cannot seem to control my tongue.

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Countdown to the Civil War: April 10, 1861

Confederate Secretary of War, Leroy Walker, telegraphs General Beauregard in Charleston to immediately demand that Union forces evacuate Fort Sumter.

The U.S.S. Pawnee proceeds toward Sumter with supplies.

Rachel Norcross’s Diary,  April 10, 1861:

I am feeling a bit more cheerful today and all because Stuart stayed home and began sketching plans for our first crops.  We had already discussed what to plant and where with the Westbrooks, but seeing Stuart actually engaged in drawing squares of land and penciling in proposed crops made my heart lighter.  Is it possible I have been unduly fearful?  Later he wooed me with tender kisses, but of that I will write no more.

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Countdown to the Civil War: April 9, 1861

Wall Street appears to be in crisis.  Traders view an almost deserted market.  Confidence seems at an all time low as investors focus their attention on the future of the nation.

In Washington, President Lincoln is besieged with telegrams, begging him to not surrender Fort Sumter.

Rachel’s Diary:  April 9, 1861:

Though I am but five months gone with child, I wonder if he (I am certain it is a boy) will ever know his father. I will not, for one moment, let Stuart believe I will release him from his promise, but I must face the likelihood he will be not be present for the birth. When Elsa is fully recovered, I will ask her advice on what I must do to prepare myself. She has spoken of a midwife, but I believe I would prefer to have Dr. Bennett attend me.

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Countdown to the Civil War: April 8, 1861

News on this date is that the state of Georgia has seized the United States Mint located in Dahionega. President Lincoln’s message to the governor of South Carolina stating his intention to peacefully supply provisions to Fort Sumter was delivered. Having received an erroneous report that the war had started, Confederate troops were ordered to their stations in Charleston.

Rachel Norcross’s diary, April 8, 1861:

Another day of watching the weather and dreading a return of showers, for that will delay putting in a crop.  And if Stuart leaves before that is done, it will be the worse for me.  I have counted my small cache of money to assure myself that the baby and I will survive, even if this wretched war takes my husband away.

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Countdown to the Civil War: April 7, 1861

General P.G.T. Beauregard, commanding southern troops in South Carolina, issued an order prohibiting federal access to Fort Sumter.  By doing so, he placed the Fort under siege for the occupants were desperate for fresh supplies.  Additionally, he informed Captain Anderson who was in charge at the Fort, communications between the Fort and the city of Charleston would not longer be permitted.

Rachel’s Norcross’s Diary, April 7, 1861

Stuart tells me that he saw Jared Westbrook pacing off a field near the road.  The farm is still in quarantine although no one else has taken ill.  Jared, Stuart tells me, sends me his regards and wishes to report that Elsa is holding her own, having successfully survived the fever crisis.

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Countdown to the Civil War: April 6, 1861

Lincoln notifies the Governor of South Carolina that an attempt will be made to deliver only necessary provisions to Fort Sumter.  On this same day the president learned that orders to land reinforcements at Fort Pickens, Florida had not been carried out. Conferences were held with several governors as well with Virginia loyalists.

Rachel Norcross’s diary, April 6, 1861:

I should probably not record this, but last night I dreamed of being back in Boston.  I was at a ball, wearing a dress far prettier than any I have yet owned, and most startling of all, I was waltzing with Jared Westbrook who looked uncommonly handsome!

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Countdown to the Civil War: April 5, 1861

The 1st Florida Infantry regiment was mustered into the Confederate services at Chattahoochee, Florida.  Their enlistment was for twelve months.

Union troops were evacuated from Fort Quitman in Texas.

Captain Mercer was given command of the steamers Powhatan, Pawnee, Pocahantas and Harriet Lane and ordered to provide assistance to Fox who had the task of delivering supplies to the besieged Fort Sumter. A further order directed a rendezvous off Charleston Bar on the 11th, to await a transport of troops and stores on the 11th.

However, there had been a conflict of communication in this instance. In order to fulfill the April 11th directive, all four steamships should have joined Mercer at the appointed spot. But Commander Gillis of the Pawahatan had earlier been ordered the aid of Fort Pickens in Florida, and by the time Lincoln directed Secretary Seward to countermand those orders, it was too late. Thus the president was trying to resolve this problem, while also seeking to maintain control of Fort Sumter.

Rachel Norcross’s diary, April 5, 1861:

I don’t believe Stuart knows much about farming. He shows no interest in planting. The weather has improved and surely the soil will dry out enough in the next week or so to begin plowing.  Of course, I’m no farmer either, but I worry that the seed we bought last fall will rot in the barn.

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Countdown to the Civil War: April 4, 1861

As dwindling supplies at Fort Sumter threatened the ability of the garrison to maintain their situation, President Lincoln ordered Naval Commander, Gustavus Fox, to re-supply the fort. Should he encounter resistance from the Confederates, he was to utilize U.S. naval ships to respond.  If they were permitted to deliver supplies to the Fort, no naval action should be taken.

Rachel Norcross’s Diary, April 4, 1861

Feeling blue.  While Stuart may have promised to stay until the baby’s born, I doubt I can hold him to it should war be declared.

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Countdown to the Civil War: April 3, 1861

The New York Herald reported on this date that the struggle for dominance between the two confederacies (the Confederate States and the Union) had already begun.  The story mentions that Mr. Case had notified Northern customs official that the entry of goods destined for the secessionist states would no longer be accepted.

A Baton Rouge newspaper reported that the flag of the Confederacy had been flown on April 2nd.

A Confederate battery fired on the ship, Rhoda H. Shannon in Charleston Harbor and South Caroline ratified the Constitution of the Confederate States.

Rachel Norcross’s diary, April 3, 1861

The weather continues cool and showery. The only thing Stuart seems interested in is not whether we will go to war, but when! I don’t even have the comfort of visiting the Westbrooks since Elsa has come down with scarlet fever.

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Countdown to the Civil War: April 2, 1861

Message to Gen. Totten in Washington from Captain Woodbury relates that most of the military staff at Fort Clinch in Florida has been discharged as directed. He adds: “The State of Florida, or the Confederate States, will probably soon take possession of Fort Clinch.” From Martin Crawford in Washington to Robert Toombs of Alabama: “Watch at all points.  It is said the Pawnee (sic) sailed from this place this evening with three companies of artillery.” The day before, the Commandant of the Navy-Yard in Brooklyn, N.Y., received sealed orders to make the Powahatan ready for sea duty at the earliest possible moment. “…Orders…to go forward to-morrow. Abraham Lincoln.”

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