Ammunition and Fuel Nearly Gone

Saturday, March 23, 1861

Even though the “five days until Sumter’s surrender,” supposedly promised by Secretary of State Seward to the Confederate Commissioners and Jefferson Davis, had come and gone, Anderson (who, by now, knew of the nearly-official plans to vacate) was ready to go.

Nevertheless, he was diligently going about his duties. He noted that the rebels had extended one battery and constructed yet another. A landing party to reinforce the fort was growing more impossible with each passing day.

The rebel guns were firing, some with live ammunition. “Their practice is pretty good,” reported Anderson, adding, “I have no ammunition to spare, and, therefore, do not show them our proficiency in artillery practice.”1

It was hoped that this proficiency would never have to be shown.

Speaking of holding out, there was now only enough firewood to last them two days. Captain Foster had reported nearly a month ago that they were taking down buildings to use as fuel. He also made note of the many gun carriages that the fort was no longer using. They might be used as fuel as well.

Captain Doubleday suggested to Anderson that these surplus carriages were broken down and would just fall into the hands of the rebels when the US troops left the fort, why not use them as firewood? Anderson wouldn’t consent to this. “Perhaps,” wondered Doubleday, “he thought fuel at six hundred dollars a cord was rather dear.”

A new plan was then devised. It was noticed that there were many fallen trees floating around the harbor and close to the fort. These logs were secured and utilized by the fort, which increased the fuel and thus the days they could hold out “to some extent.”2

  1. Official Records, Series I, Vol. 1, p212. []
  2. Reminiscences of Forts Sumter and Moultrie in 1860-’61 by Abner Doubleday. []
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Ammunition and Fuel Nearly Gone by CW DG is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International


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