Sunday, November 13, 2016

1st Lieutenant George W. Snyder to Major Robert Anderson, April 4, 1861

FORT SUMTER S.C., April 4, 1861.
First Artillery, U. S. Army Commanding Fort Sumter :

MAJOR: In compliance with your directions, I went, under a flag of truce, to the city of Charleston, in company with Captain Talbot, and had an interview with Governor Pickens and General Beauregard. In the interview with the governor, Captain Talbot only being present, I stated all the circumstances connected with the visits of Captain Seymour and myself to Cummings Point and the schooner Rhoda H. Shannon, which had been fired into by the batteries on Morris Island, on the 3d instant. I called his attention to the fact that he had not complied with his own proposition, to warn all vessels bearing the United States flag not to enter the Harbor. The governor replied that he and General Beauregard, with their staff officers, were standing on the piazza of the Moultrie House on Sullivan's Island, and saw the whole affair, and that my statement corroborated entirely his own personal observation, although it differed slightly from the report of Colonel De Saussure, the commanding officer on Morris Island. The governor said that the commander of the vessel whose duty it was to warn vessels not to enter the harbor had left his post, and had reported that the weather was too boisterous and the sea too rough for him to go out to the schooner Shannon; that this commander had already been sent for, and would be dismissed; that the commander of the cutter would be reprimanded for not going out and examining whether the Shannon were disabled; and that peremptory orders had been sent to Morris Island to stop this random firing.

The governor also said that if Major Anderson deemed it his duty to send out, under unfavorable circumstances, and examine the condition of the schooner Shannon, it was doubly theirs, imposed by humanity, and also by the commercial interest of their harbor.

General Beauregard was invited in, and I repeated what I had said to Governor Pickens to him. The general replied in the same terms as the governor, adding that the practice firing on Morris Island would take place at particular hours.

There was an objection made to Captain Talbot leaving Fort Sumter for Washington, but this was finally overruled and the captain allowed to depart. The governor said that orders had been received from Montgomery not to allow any man in the ranks, or any laborers, to leave Fort Sumter, and not to allow Major Anderson to obtain supplies in Charleston; that Mr. Crawford, a commissioner from the Confederate States, now in Washington, had sent a dispatch to him stating that he was authorized to say that no attempt would be made to re-enforce Fort Sumter with men or provisions, but that Mr. Lincoln would not order Major Anderson to withdraw from Fort Sumter, and would leave him to act for himself; also, advising the governor not to allow any supplies to be sent from the city to Fort Sumter.

I called the attention of both General Beauregard and Governor Pickens to the schooner lying near the left flank of Fort. Sumter. They said they knew nothing of her, but would send and ascertain, and direct her to move further from the fort. Governor Pickens remarked that as they were now acting under the authority of the Confederate States he had consulted with General Beauregard, who was now in command of the troops stationed here.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

First Lieut. of Engineers, U. S.. Army.

Monday, April 8.
Sent by James E. Harvey by telegraph, last Saturday morning.

SOURCE: The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, Series I, Volume 1 (Serial No. 1), p. 241-2

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