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1861 April 11: Confederate Telegrams Immediately Preceding the Hostilities

April 11, 2011

Who knew what and when? The people of Northwest Wisconsin won’t read this in The Hudson North Star until April 17. But these telegraphic messages between P. G. T. Beauregard,1 the flamboyant Louisiana general in command of the Confederate forces, and L. P. Walker,2 the Confederate Secretary of War, appear in the Philadelphia Inquirer on April 13, the day Major Anderson surrenders Fort Sumter. Elwell and Starr of the The North Star do not credit the Philadelphia Inquirer, and may very well have gotten the telegrams from another newspaper as it was common for newspapers at this time to freely reprint from other papers.

General Beauregard, 1861

Charleston, April 12.
The following is the telegraphic correspondence between the War Department at Montgomery and General Beauregard immediately preceding the hostilities. The correspondence grew out of the formal notification by the Washington Government, which is discovered in General Beauregard’s first despatches.

Number 1.
Charleston, April 8.
To L. P. Walker, Secretary of War.
An authorized messenger from President Lincoln just informed Governor Pickens3 and myself that provisions will be sent to Fort Sumpter[sic], peaceably, or otherwise by force.
[Signed.] G. T. BEAUREGARD.

Number 2.
Montgomery, April 10.
To General G. T. Beauregard, Charleston:
If you have no doubt of the authorized character of the agent who communicated to you the intention of the Washington Government to supply Fort Sumter by force, you will at once demand its evacuation, and if this is refused, proceed in such manner as you may determine to reduce it. Answer.
[Signed.] L. P. WALKER

L. P. Walker

Number 3.
Charleston, April 10.
To L. P. Walker, Secretary of War:
The demand will be made to-morrow at 12 o’clock.
[Signed.] G. T. BEAUREGARD.

[No. four not received.]

Number 5.
Charleston, April 10.
To L. P. Walker, Montgomery:
The reasons are special for 12 o’clock.
[Signed.] G. T. BEAUREGARD.

Number 6.
Charleston, April 11.
To L. P. Walker, Montgomery:
Demand sent at two o’clock. Allowed til 6 o’clock to answer.
[Signed.] G. T. BEAUREGARD.

Number 7.
Montgomery, April 11.
To Gen Beauregard, Charleston:
Telegraph the reply to Maj. Anderson.3
[Signed.] L. P. WALKER.

Number 8.
Charleston, April 11.
To L. P. Walker, Montgomery:
Major Anderson replies: “I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your communication, demanding the evacuation of this fort, and to say in reply thereto that it is a demand which I regret: but my sense of honor and my obligations to my government prevent my compliance.” He addes: “Propably[sic] I will await the first shot, and, if you do not batter us to pieces, we will be starved out in a few days.” Answer.
[Signed.] G. T. Beauregard.

Number 9.
Montgomery, April 11.
To Gen. Beauregard, Charleston:
We do not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter if Major Anderson will state the time at which as indicated by him he will evacuate, and agree that in the mean time he will not use his guns against us, unless ours should be employed against Fort Sumter. You can thus avoid the effusion of blood. If this order should be unequivocally refused, reduce the Fort as your judgement decides to be the most practicable.
L. P. Walker, Secretary of War.

Number 10.
Charleston, April 11.
To L. P. Walker, Montgomery:
He would not consent. I write to-day.
Beauregard.

Following are several other small articles dated April 11, 1861, that appear in the April 17th issue of the North Star.

Charleston, April 11.
General Beauregard at two o’clock to-day demanded the surrender of Fort Sumpter [sic], which Major Anderson declined. It is currently reported that negotiations will be opened tomorrow between Anderson and Beauregard.

Special despatches received at Washington to-day assert that both [Forts] Pickens and Sumpter [sic] will be attacked, but they doubt if war follows.

A Montgomery despatch to-day says it has been resolved to attack the two forts immediately.

Three steamers were seen off the coast yesterday for a long time. Anderson fired a signal gun this morning. The attack of Fort Sumter is momentarily expected. Business is suspended. It is rumored that the fight will commence at eight o’clock this evening, unless Major Anderson surrenders.

The steamer Harriet Lane4 is off the bar. Thousands of persons are lining the shores to witness the attack.

Charleston, April 11.
Interceptd despatches disclose the fact that Mr. Fox,5 who had been allowed to visit Maj. Anderson, on pledge that his puprose [sic] was pacific, employed his opportunity to devise a plan for supplying the fort by force, and that this plan had been adopted by the Washington government, and was in progress of exicution.[sic]

Washington, April 11.
[Herald Correspondence.]—The men of the West Point flying artillery, now in Washington have received orders to keep their revolvers constantly loaded, to be ready for immediate action.

Part of the volunteers will be stationed at the bridge across the Potomac, so as to defend it from an invading force. Nearly one thousand men are now enrolled for regular service from the ranks of the district militia. Those who refused to take the oath of allegiance were marched back to the armory disarmed, and their names stricken from the roll. Hisses from the spectators accompanied their departure from the parade ground.

General Cadwallader,6 of the first brigade, Pennsylvania malitia [sic], has been ordered home immediately by the Governor. The movement is supposed to be in connection with the occupation of the Capitol by Pennsylvania volunteers.

Gov. Hicks,3 of Maryland, has been in consultation with the President for several hours to-day. He came here with feelings of regret at the course of the administration in its seeming coercive policy, but when the Gov. heard the resons for the course of the President and his advisers, and understood the record by which they were guided, he modified his opinion to a very great extent.

1.  Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard (1818-1893) was the first brigadier general of the Confederate Army. Three months after Fort Sumter, he will be the victor as the Confederate Army wins the First Battle of Bull Run/Manassas. Of note: As an adult, Beauregard rarely used his first name of Pierre and signed his correspondence G. T. Beauregard.
2.  LeRoy Pope Walker (1817-1884) was the first Confederate Secretary of War, serving from February 25-September 16, 1861, and is perhaps best known for issuing the orders we see here to fire on Fort Sumter. He serves briefly as a brigadier general in the Confederate Army. 
3.  Governor Pickens (South Carolina), Major Anderson, and Governor Hicks (Maryland) have all made their first appearance in this blog already; for more details on them, see the Cast of Characters.
4.  The Harriet Lane was a revenue cutter, named for the niece of President James Buchanan.
5. Gustavus Vasa Fox (1821-1883), a U.S. Navy officer in the Mexican War, becomes the Assistant Secretary of the Navy on August 1, 1861, and serves until November 1866.  At the opening of the Civil War, President Lincoln gives him a temporary appointment in the Navy and sends him with the Baltic, the steamer sent to resupply Fort Sumter.
6.  George Cadwalader (1806-1879) was  a general in the U.S. Army during the Mexican War. Pennsylvania Governor Curtin appoints him major general of the Pennsylvania state militia in April of 1861, and on May 25 he is appointed a major general of Volunteers in the U.S. Army.

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