Tuesday, March 26, 1861
While Ward Hill Lamon was on his return trip from Charleston to Washington, the process of making things ready for the surrender of Sumter had already begun.
General Beauregard, commanding rebel forces in Charleston, and Major Anderson, commanding Federal forces at Fort Sumter, exchanged letters to clear up some of the foggy particulars concerning handing over of the fort.
Beauregard, an old West Point student of Anderson’s, informed the Major that he was aware of the withdrawal set up by Lamon, working (as everyone thought) under the authority of President Lincoln, and Governor Pickens. He had heard from Lamon that Anderson feared Beauregard would insist upon the surrender being an embarrassing formal one. However, he wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing since their countries weren’t at war.
Beauregard then asked Anderson to let either him or Governor Pickens know when they were ready to leave the fort and a vessel would be provided to cart men, belongings, etc. away from Sumter.
There was, though, a bit of concern expressed over the rumor (spread to the Governor and Beauregard via Lamon) that Anderson would blow up the fort upon leaving.
General Beauregard then gave the terms for this unofficial surrender. Both officers and men would be able to keep their side and company arms. Anderson and his men will also be given the right to salute their flag upon lowering it.
Anderson’s reply came this same day. He expressed gratitude over the surrender being informal. Anderson did take a small offense at the possible misunderstanding concerning the blowing up of the Fort. He thought that Beauregard thought that Anderson wanted to blow up the fort while he (Anderson) was still in it, committing some absurd act of self-sacrifice. He assured Beauregard that it simply wasn’t the case and he hoped that neither the General nor the Governor could think such things.
Beauregard was able to zip off one more letter apologizing for inferring that Anderson would blow himself up with the fort.
The crux of the he-said/he-said letters is that Beauregard and Anderson both believed that the fort would be surrendered in the next couple of days.1
Beauregard also wrote to Confederate Secretary of War LeRoy Pope Walker, telling him all about Lamon and that Sumter would indeed be surrendered very shortly. It was looking like Walker’s comment of being able to wipe up all the blood spilled by this war with a pocket handkerchief was coming true.2