General Scott Sends Memo to President Lincoln

General Winfield Scott

Sunday, March 10, 1861

Meeting at Montgomery, Alabama, the new Confederate Congress adopts constitution.

President and Mrs. Lincoln worship at New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, which they will attend regularly during the Lincoln Presidency.

General Winfield Scott sends Abraham Lincoln a detailed memorandum on military options: “The President has done me the honor to address to me certain professional questions, to which he desires answers. I proceed with them categorically.
“1. To what point of time can Major Anderson maintain his position, at Fort Sumter, without fresh supplies or reinforcement?”
Answer. In respect to subsistence, for the garrison, he has hard bread, flour & rice for about 26 days, & salt meat (port) for about 48 days; but how long he could hold out against the whole means of attack which the South Carolinians have in, & about the city of Charleston & its Harbour, is a question that cannot be answered with absolute accuracy. Reckoning the [batteries] troops at 3,500 (now somewhat disciplined) the batteries at 4 powerfull land, & at least one floating — all mounting guns & mortars of large calibre, & of the best patterns; — & supposing those means to be skillfully & vigorously employed — Fort Sumter with its less than 100 men — including common laborers & musicians — ought to be taken by a single assault, & easily, if harassed perseveringly for several previous days & night by threats & false attacks, with the ability, from the force of overwhelming numbers, of converting one out of every three or four of those, into a real attack.
“2. Can you with all the means now in your control, supply or reinforce Fort Sumter within that time?’
“Answer. No: Not within many months. See answer to No. 3.
“3. If not, what amount of means, & of what description, in addition to that already at your control, would enable you to supply & reinforce that fortress within the time?’
“Answer: A fleet of war vessels & transports, 5,000 additional regular troops & 20,000 volunteers, in order to take all the batteries in the Harbor of Charleston (including Ft. Moultrie) after the capture of all the batteries in the approach or outer Bay. And to raise, organize & discipline such an army, would require new acts of Congress & from six to eight months.”

Secretary of State William H. Seward writes President Lincoln regarding diplomatic positions: “I received last night what seemed to be authoritative as an announcement that Mr Fessenden withdraws his claim upon a chief or any mission. This is a relief.
“I like Clay for Spain — And am prepared to dispose of the question at once.
“I like equally Corwin to Mexico — and am also ready —
“As to Fremont and France — the prestige is good — But I think that is all. If as I have heard, he is to be engaged in raising money there for his estates, it would be a serious complication — Besides this he is by birth and education a South Carolinian and I am not certain of his being so very decided in the defence of the Union as a minister at Paris ought to be — I would rather send Dayton there — For England I am sure Mr Adams far above all others adapted to British Court & Society and infinitely more watchful capable, efficient, reliable every thing — New England is an important point. What better can we do for her. N.Jersey gives us little, and that grudgingly — I think Daytons appointment would be as much too large for her as any thing else we are likely to do for New England would be too small for her.
“After considering these things you will please decide. I can wait on you this morning on this subject if you wish, or I shall be ready to acquiesce at once in your decision without further conference.
“Please hold in reserve Secretaryships of these legations. They are almost as good as missions and hardly less important.”

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Published in: on March 19, 2011 at 1:31 am  Leave a Comment  
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