Sunday, January 9, 2011
150-YEARS-AGO -- WAR INITIATED -- "STAR OF THE WEST" INCIDENT
January 10, 1861, Page 1
When Major Anderson spiked the guns of Fort Moultrie, and transferred his command to Fort Sumter, he perpetrated hostile acts against this State. They clearly looked to a bitter instrumentality to coerce South Carolina by military power. The President of the United States understood this when he agreed with the South Carolina members of Congress not to change the military status in the bay of Charleston, upon the condition that we would not attack the forts. He knew perfectly well that if South Carolina had a right to secede from the Union, she had a right to have the forts in our harbor delivered up to her. These forts were built on her soil, for her defence against foreign nations. The obligation on the part of the Government of the United States to defend the State of South by these forts, fell with the secession of the State.
Having no duty to discharge with them, their continued possession by the Federal authorities could only be construed into an attitude of hostility. They were held for purposes of violence and war. To put the State entirely right, in the course she was obliged to pursue, consistent with her right and sovereignty, South Carolina sent Commissioners to treat for peaceable surrender of these forts. A hostile change is made in the military relations of the Government of the United States towards South Carolina, in the bay of Charleston, by which the control of our waters is effected. Any military position, looking to violence, is war. Two friendly nations have a pass between them. They quarrel, and one of them seizes the pass. This is an act of war. But if the pass is within the territory of the nation aggressed on, no civilian could doubt that it is war commenced.
South Carolina would have been justified, immediately on Fort Sumter being seized by Major Anderson, in opening a fire upon this fort from every point in the bay of Charleston. But the State authorities forbore --unwilling to commence the conflict with the Government of the United States. Not content, however, with holding the fort, the Government of the United States determines to make actively efficient the military command of our waters, and sends additional troops to work its guns guns against the State. Whether coming by land or water, there was but one course left for the State to pursue, consistent with her sovereignty or the welfare of her people, and that was, to prevent those troops reaching the fort.
Accordingly, orders were given to the officers in command of the other stations in the bay of Charleston to arrest or sink any vessel carrying United States troops to Fort Sumter. Yesterday morning a steamer, supposed to be the Star of the West, attempted to enter the harbor. A gun was fired across her bows from the battery on Morris' Island. She went on without regarding it, and then she was fired into with such effect that she turned back and went to sea.
All revolutions are blunders.They are never intended. The huge blunder now marring the counsels of the Government of the United States seems to be, that the Union can be maintained by violence and war, and that South Carolina can be cowed by demonstrations of military coercion. That the Black Republicans should commit such blunders is not surprising; for they have their existence as a party to support, and a rancorous sectional hatred to gratify; but that the present Administration should further their policy, and begin the grand drama of war and blood, is not a little astonishing. Every step taken in this direction only widens the gulf between the Northern and Southern States, and drives the Southern States more speedily together into a Southern Confederacy. That military fools, like General Scott, who think the highest wisdom consists in the bloodiest fighting, should counsel the military possession of the bay of Charleston by the Government of the United States, is what might be expected.
Thousands, and tens of thousands, longing for a Southern Confederacy, with an eternal separation from the people of the North, will hail him as their detested but most efficient deliverer. By all means, let Charleston be blockaded. Let the war complicate the nations of Europe, as well as the United States. Of one thing there need be no further blunders. The people of South Carolina will fight, and will establish the Southern Confederacy.
Posted by Michael Jones at 5:57 AM