A Quiet Sunday and a Daring Plan

Sunday, March 10, 1861

It was a quiet Sunday in Washington DC. With Seward still sick and in bed, the Lincolns attended church services at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church. They would become regulars. The pastor, Phineas Densmore Gurley was of the old school. He was anti-slavery as well as pro-Union. The Lincolns soon rented an entire pew, making a $50 annual contribution.1

Commander James H. Ward of the New York Harbor fleet, had been at the ready, waiting for the command to resupply Fort Sumter. He was in Washington, being requested by Secretary of the Navy Gideon Wells. He had offered his services to Buchanan and was still ready to set sail.

Wells and General Winfield Scott called upon Commander Ward to bring him up to speed on the recent Sumter developments. There was no way to reinforce or resupply Anderson at Fort Sumter, they told him. Still, Ward suggested a plan on a smaller scale.

Provisions and a relative handful of men could be sneaked into the fort under cover of darkness with the use of two fast tug boats. Even if a tug was lost, and he didn’t see how it could be, the other would be there. After abandoning the boats, the crews of the tugs would become part of the garrison at Sumter.

For now, this would have to be his view.2


Things were also quiet at Fort Sumter. Major Anderson noted two large work parties both tending to batteries. One was at Fort Johnson, the other on Morris Island.3

  1. Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President by Allen C. Guelzo, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2003. []
  2. The Diary of Gideon Wells. Wells gives no dates and it’s a bit foggy as to when these talks took place. What is known is that this wasn’t the last time (or even second to last time) that Ward talked to Scott and Wells about this. It’s also known that Ward left Washington on the 11th. It makes some sense to me that the talks written of here took place on the 10th. But I could be wrong. []
  3. Official Records Vol. 1, p193. []
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A Quiet Sunday and a Daring Plan by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International


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