Thursday, March 14, 1861
The daring plan to resupply Fort Sumter, as presented by Gustavus Fox, had impressed Lincoln and Postmaster General Montgomery Blair. Prior to the Cabinet meeting on this date, Lincoln had button-holed most of the Cabinet members to tell them of Fox’s plan.
Feelings were still mixed, though Secretary of State Seward was very strongly against resupplying the fort. The Cabinet meeting came to no conclusion at all. Fox, however, wished to see Fort Sumter for himself. Lincoln agreed that he could go, if Secretary of War Simon Cameron and General Winfield Scott agreed.1
While plans were being pushed (and pushed back) to resupply or even reinforce Fort Sumter, the idea that the fort would be surrendered had nearly entered the “general public knowledge” category.
The Confederate Commissioners in Washington, being put on hold by Seward, wrote to Governor Pickens of South Carolina: “I confidently believe Sumter will be evacuated, and think a Government messenger left here yesterday with orders to that effect for Anderson.”2
Of course, no government messenger had done such a thing.
The Richmond Daily Dispatch reported the same, even giving the details of the surrender, stating that there “is to be no formal surrender, but he [Major Anderson] is to leave it with a small garrison; who will surrender on demand, without opposition.”
The Virginia paper also reprinted articles from several Northern papers backing up their suspicions.
Of course, they also ran an article marking the death of “The Ohio Fat Boy” who had been displayed at P.T. Barnum’s Museum.
Another article in the paper deserves a full reprint:
The Niagara Falls Gazette tells a story of two young ladies who were promenading along the street recently, when one of them slipped and came down on the icy pavement “like a thousand of bricks.” Jumping quickly up, she exclaimed, sotto voce, “Before another winter I’ll have a man to hang to; see if I don’t!”
This, as it turned out, was a slow news day.