The Fort Sumter attack in April 1861 was not the first!

The attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861 was not the first act of aggression in what would become the American Civil War. Shots from a battery were actually fired from high ground at Vicksburg, Mississippi at several Federal vessels, including the  Gladiator, A.O. Tyler, and the Imperial. Those actions took place in January 1861. The armed battery had been ordered for placement by Mississippi’s governor who wanted Union vessels to stop to be searched (looking for war materials).

In January 1861, Lincoln was President-elect. He must have felt somewhat helpless as he received word that, in fact, Southern states were seizing Union forts and arsenals. While Lincoln was discussing cabinet appointments, Alabama, for instance, had taken over the U.S. Arsenal at Mt. Vernon. Alabama would also send troops to take Forts Morgan and Gaines at the mouth of Mobile Bay. Florida saw similar events. The Arsenal at Apalachicola was taken. Afterward, Fort Marion at St. Augustine was taken. While these and other like-situations were taking place, the problem involving Fort Sumter was ongoing. By the end of January, six states left the Union. Lincoln was preparing to leave Springfield for Washington. He had been working on his Inaugural Address. President Buchanan seemed absolutely unable to deal with the crisis of the nation as it was unfolding. Abraham Lincoln closed out the month with a visit to his stepmother , Sarah Bush Lincoln in Coles County, Illinios. After Lincoln’s assassination, she commented that she “knew” she would never see her son alive again. I think Lincoln knew it too. On to Washington he went…

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