Lincoln’s Election, Southern Secession: 1860 to April 1861


How did Major Anderson rescue, or evacuate, his garrison?

As South Carolina resumed its position as one of the free and independent states of the world (the expression employed in many state records), the militia of the state began to press against Fort Moultrie. Major Robert Anderson was deeply concerned, and when there was no reply to his telegrams to the War Department, he took action on his own. On the night of December 26–27, 1860, Anderson evacuated his entire garrison, under cover of night, from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter (both forts were named for South Carolina heroes of the Revolutionary War).

The movement was masterfully executed, and the people of Charleston were outraged to learn that Anderson had taken his men to a more defensible location. Telegrams practically flew between Charleston and Washington, D.C. When he was confronted about the action, President James C. Buchanan complained that he had not ordered it. This was confirmation, if any was needed, that the president of the United States was not up to his job.


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