ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

American Civil War Life: The Union’s Path To War - The Situation Nov 1860 – Mar 1861

Updated on July 23, 2018
garytameling profile image

I'm a Sr. Financial Analyst from Long Island, NY and am an American Civil War buff and Living Historian (Company H, 119th NY Volunteers).

Introduction

When the Presidential Election of 1860 came to pass, the fate of the United States was literally at stake. If a candidate favoring slavery expansion was the winner, the United States would remain whole. If a candidate favoring slavery limitation was the winner, the southern portion of the United States would reconsider its position in the Union.

November 1860

Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election on Nov 6, 1860. As mentioned in the previous article, Lincoln was in favor of restricting slavery to its current boundaries and not expanding the institution into the West.

The pro-slavery faction’s course thus became clear, and the effects of the election were nearly immediate.

Cartoon - Lincoln wins the 1860 Presidential Election
Cartoon - Lincoln wins the 1860 Presidential Election

December 1860

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the United States, and small, unmanned or minimally manned U.S. military installations were soon seized by South Carolina armed forces. However, a U.S. major named Robert Anderson refused to surrender his small force in Fort Moultrie outside of Charleston, SC and, instead, evacuated it to a fortress (90% completed) on a man-made island in Charleston Harbor. This fortress was called Fort Sumter, and it was designed to be one of the most formidable fortifications in the world, with three levels of casemates (platforms for cannon) and thick masonry walls. South Carolina forces soon had this fort under a virtual siege, having quickly erected emplacements for cannon along the coast surrounding the harbor, and demanded its surrender. Here, though, the United States made a stand. Fort Sumter was not to be surrendered.

Sketch - South Carolina passes the Articles of Secession
Sketch - South Carolina passes the Articles of Secession
Major Robert Anderson
Major Robert Anderson
Sketch - Federal garrison troops abandon Fort Moultrie and spike the cannon
Sketch - Federal garrison troops abandon Fort Moultrie and spike the cannon
Sketch - Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor
Sketch - Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor

January 1861

The soon-to-be-departing Buchanan administration refused to yield or abandon the fort. However, President Buchanan did not believe he could constitutionally force South Carolina to submit to U.S. authority. Therefore, he only made plans to reinforce and resupply the garrison at Fort Sumter so as to enable it to defend and sustain itself a while longer, perhaps until the new administration took office. The USS Star of the West, an unarmed civilian ship, was dispatched January 5, 1861 to fulfill this mission. When it approached the fort a few days later, on January 9, the ship was fired upon by the South Carolina artillery batteries and driven out to sea, suffering no damage. Arguably, these were the first shots fired of the war.

Other slave-holding states seceded from the United States in January – Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana - intending to join with South Carolina as a new nation, and more and more United States military installations were falling into the hands of the armed forces of these seceded states. The small, scattered U.S. Army could do very little to prevent this.

Kansas’ inclusion into the United States, as a free state, in January 1861 was a victory for the Anti-Slavery faction. Under the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854, it was intended that the settlers of both Nebraska and Kansas territories vote on whether or not to allow slavery. With Kansas bordering slave-holding states and territories just east and south of it, the assumption was that Kansas would become a slave-holding territory. Nebraska, mostly bordered by free states and territories, assumedly would become a free territory. When the two territories were to achieve statehood, the near-parity in number of states, free and slave, would also thus be maintained. Surprisingly, Kansas became a free state, but it was too late for that to have any effect on the events of the day. This victory for the anti-slave faction simply did not make up for the loss to the country of several southern states via secession.

Newspaper Article about the secession of South Carolina
Newspaper Article about the secession of South Carolina
President James Buchanan
President James Buchanan
Sketch - a South Carolina battery fires upon the USS Star of the West
Sketch - a South Carolina battery fires upon the USS Star of the West
Cartoon - the Deep South "sheep" stray from the Union "flock"
Cartoon - the Deep South "sheep" stray from the Union "flock"

February 1861

Texas seceded in the beginning of the month of February, 1861, thus rounding out the first wave of secession from the United States. A total of seven slave states had seceded. They joined together that same month to form a new nation – a confederacy – where the individual states had sovereignty over the federal government. The capitol of this new “country” was Montgomery, Alabama.

Montgomery, AL becomes the capitol of the Confederate States of America
Montgomery, AL becomes the capitol of the Confederate States of America

March 1861

Lincoln’s inauguration occurred in March 1861. In his inaugural speech, Lincoln stressed that the two sides of this crisis were not enemies, but friends. However, events began to unfold that eroded any friendship that existed, and deteriorated to outright, armed belligerence.

Shortly after Lincoln’s inauguration, the secession of the southern New Mexico Territory, which became known to the fledgling Confederacy as the Confederate Territory of Arizona, added to the growing tensions.

Lincoln Inauguration Mar 1861
Lincoln Inauguration Mar 1861
Secession of Southern New Mexico Territory
Secession of Southern New Mexico Territory

Afterword

An interesting side-note to this last secession: there was an attempt to create a Territory of Arizona, out of the western half of the Territory of New Mexico, shortly before the War began, but this was never authorized by Congress. A "de facto" Territory of Arizona existed, however, in anticipation of such a new territory being confirmed eventually, but at the time, it wasn't a federally recognized territory. It was indeed ironic that when an “Arizona” was finally created, it was done so via secession from the U.S.

The next article in this series is called American Civil War Life: The Union’s Path To War - Northern Reaction to Secession.

Cartoon - South Carolina gives an ultimatum to President Buchanan
Cartoon - South Carolina gives an ultimatum to President Buchanan

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 

      4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      You have some wonderful historical Civil War Hubs, Gary. Great work. Very interesting.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)