Thus Fell Fort Sumter
At the time of the Fort Sumter crisis, precipitated by the Buchanan and Lincoln administrations, State and Federal relations were primarily governed by a rational understanding of the sovereignty of the States. A clear understanding of this guided South Carolina’s conduct, and the formal secession of States’ from the fraternal union. The higher-law doctrine revolutionaries at the North had other ideas.
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
Thus Fell Fort Sumter:
“The formal evacuation of the fort took place on the 14th, the garrison withdrawing with the honors of war, and being transferred to one of the Federal vessels lying in the offing. A vast concourse of people witnessed it from the shores of the harbor, and the waters of the bay were alive with boats and sightseers. Thus fell Fort Sumter.
The means at the disposal of the Carolinians to reduce the fort, vigorously held, were totally inadequate. Their breaching guns, necessarily placed at extreme range, were old-fashioned smooth-bores of light caliber, save a rifled 12-dr., which for such a purpose was a mere toy. From their shells the casements of the fort were a perfect protection. It is true their hot shots fired the wooden barracks on the terreplein of the fort, and this, while burning, may have, as alleged, endangered the magazine, but the barracks soon burned out. Endangered magazines are an incident of every siege, and their explosion within beleaguered forts was no uncommon occurrence on both sides later in the war, and none were even surrendered in consequence. It is true that
He had nothing but smooth-bores, firing round shot. But neither his ammunition nor commissariat was exhausted when he surrendered. And photographs of the work taken at the time forbid the assertion that its tenability was seriously impaired. The walls were injured nowhere; the projectiles of the nearest batteries had given them the look of a bad case of smallpox, no more, and not a man had been killed on either side when Anderson’s flag was furled.
No wonder that European spectators smiled at the bombardment and defense. It had to veteran eyes, which saw only the patent facts, something of the characteristics of Chinese war. But the truth is the doctrine of State Sovereignty, with its consequent State Rights, was not then the exploded heresy which it has since become. Taught by the most venerated sages of the early republic, it had constituted the faith of a large majority of the people, and shaped the course of the government almost uninterruptedly from its inception. It was still a mighty, living influence, and gave the Carolinians the benefit of that morale which is as potent in armies as is the nervous fluid in the human frame.
The whole course of the Federal Government toward the seceded States had been that of one who admits a right but seeks to evade its consequences. The Northern press took no higher ground; and some of its most influential exponents openly admitted the Southern view of the question. Mr. Lincoln, in the face of his life-long advocacy of the principles relied upon by the secessionists, could find no higher ground upon which to put his continued tenure of Sumter than its character as property – a character in which the seceded State was more than willing to consider and account for it in an equitable distribution of assets.
Major Anderson was himself a Democrat of the States’ Rights school, a Kentuckian by birth…[and] thus situated [at Fort Sumter] with his orders, such as they were, emanating from the tricky and shuffling demagogues who filled the high places at Washington…no wonder that he made only such a defense as could by possibility warrant an honorable surrender.
Insignificant, however, as was the defense of Sumter and facile as was its reduction, in its results it was an event of tremendous consequence. From that period what little statesmanship and reason had so far marked the controversy, fled the field, and the baleful passions of civil strife were loosed for a four years’ carnival of blood and ruthless destruction.”
(Memoirs of the War of Secession, Johnson Hagood, The State Company, 1910, pp. 33-34)