Anderson Suspects that Sumter is Eyed

Sunday, December 9, 1860

At Fort Moultrie in Charleston Harbor, Major Richard Anderson related his latest predictions to Adjutant General Samuel Cooper in Washington DC. Fort Sumter, on a man-made island a mile or so southwest of Fort Moultrie and three miles east of Charleston was the South Carolinians’ goal.

In previous letters, Anderson had stated that the much closer Castle Pinckney would be the target (he also stated that the Southerners already counted it as their own). Fort Moultrie, with its extreme vulnerability to attacks from land, was also a target.

Fort Sumter was the object of the insurgents’ military desire. Anderson no longer believed that they would try to take Sumter by a front assault, but by a siege. Even this would not be an easy task. The assailants would first have to procure heavy guns.

Anderson still intended to defend Sumter, as well as Castle Pinckney and Fort Moultrie. In fact he suggested that all ammunition (presumably in the arsenals) that wasn’t specifically needed for the defense of these fortifications be destroyed so that it might not fall into the hands of the South Carolinians.

If Fort Sumter was lost, Fort Moultrie would be so indefensible that Anderson would be forced to abandon it.

In closing, Anderson re-reminded Cooper that the expected provisions had not yet arrived. He stated in a letter on December 2nd that he expected them on the 10th. Here, he seemed to be holding out little hope of seeing them by then. If they do not soon arrive, he warns, he’ll have to buy supplies from Charleston.1

Also, Major Don Carlos Buell arrived to tour the forts and to verbally deliver Secretary of War Floyd’s message to Major Anderson.

  1. Official Records, Vol 1, p 89. []
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