The largest incomes come from the sales of furs and ice, and there is little profit in either. Food and goods are scarce, so most people go without. What little money the commoners receive is taxed heavily by the king in Derilath. Every year hundreds of citizens migrate south to Ammarind, or east to the Khorlann Steppes in search of a better life. The ones who stay are usually bitter and unfriendly to outsiders. The Marundians also live in fear of the dark. The realm is infested by terrible creatures that roam the night, such as Ice Wraiths and Remorhaz. This dangerous region does attract adventurers and young fools desiring to test their mettle against such foes.
Few return to tell of their exploits. Mountains of Frost large mountain range running northwest across Marundi until it intersects with the Sable Mountains. Within the castle is the Bearclaw Throne. Derilath is governed by Duke Gerard Norax. Marundi is a nation that is years old. It has a long, and often dark history, that stretches back all the way to the early Fourth Age.
Long Before the current kingdom of Marundi existed; its territories were part of an ancient kingdom called Thalar. This was the first united kingdom of the Thalari people; founded by King Algerd Marothe ; one of the famed Seven Champions of the West. Within forty years, the weather, and the dark creatures that came with it, had destroyed Thalar and left the Northern Peninsula a wasteland of snow, ice, and squabbling tribes and ethnic groups in constant conflict.
Formation of the Kingdom under the Alaghon Dynasty: For over years this region was ungoverned and in complete anarchy. The Alaghon Dynasty ruled Marundi as part of the Ravinian Empire for years, and before the Cataclysm, twenty-five monarchs sat upon the Bearclaw Throne under the Ravinian banner.
Under the rule of the Haldane Dynasty: After the end of the Alaghon Dynasty, Marundi came to be ruled by the Haldane Dynasty under King Leovard, and total of twenty-eight monarchs of that family sat upon the throne. The Haldane Dynasty was corrupt and cruel, and the people of Marundi suffered greatly during its year reign. Under the rule of the Uzren Dynasty: The Uzren family ruled Marundi for years and a total of sixteen monarchs sat upon the Bearclaw Throne.
Marundi had been a second-class power ever since the Cataclysm, and had been plagued by poverty, decay, and corruption for many years. This decline began to increase with the reign of the Norax kings, who ever lusted for more power and territory. To quell the popular uprising against him that began after that defeat, Cerland started another, easier war. King Briand firmly believes that by keeping the barbarian tribes on their knees, there will never be another uprising.
Edit History Tags Source. Corwyn A Fantasy Campaign Setting. Table of Contents Welcome! In determining, or coming to an understanding, of what did cause and what did trigger the war, a process of elimination must be carried out. That is to say, it is feasible to determine what did not cause the war and lead to its beginning, and proceed from there.
Rhetoric alone does not cause or trigger a war. What that means is that it makes no difference who utters such rhetoric, whether it is leaders of nations or common citizens—no amount of mere talk makes a war. Even declarations by the press and the population of a nation that war has begun, will begin, or should begin, do not make a war. Even declaration of intent by a government, meant to serve as a threat of war does not make a war. The most that all such talk usually achieves is to create a fertile climate for war.
All these things occurred in the period between the first claims by Southern states that they had seceded, until the war actually began. What did not occur was an official, legal, constitutional declaration of war by the one entity that had the power to do so, the Congress of the United States. Even a declaration of war in and of itself does not make a war. It remains no more than a statement of intent until actual combat occurs, but seldom will a government declare war on another unless it has the physical ability to conduct war.
The government of the United States, at the moment that Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office as president, did not have the physical ability to conduct war. If for no other reason than that, all the rhetoric that might have issued forth from all the voices and pens of the nation could not have caused or initated the war at that time.
It would be possible to make a blanket statement, given that truth, to the effect that everything that transpired in the history of the nation up to that point can be eliminated as a cause of the war. To contradict that statement, it would be necessary to demonstrate that the existence of slavery, both in the seceding Southern states, as well as loyal Northern states could have caused war to begin. Or it would be necessary to demonstrate that secession, which began late in , could cause war to begin in March of , or later.
One by one, the other issues cited as causes of the war would have to be demonstrated to have done so in a delayed fashion. That was a peacetime force, a force down-sized since the Mexican War, because no serious threats to the United States existed that required a large standing army. Those 16, men were more than enough to quell what small troubles bothered the nation, such as local rebellions over laws or taxes, or disquiet caused by interactions between settlers and Native American tribes, and some unrest in California. This army of 16, was not gathered together in one body, it was scattered all over the country, many of the men posted out in the west.
This was still a few years before the Transcontinental Railroad would be completed, so the only way for troops on the West Coast to reach the East, where the war would begin, was either by movement across land, or by boat, usually down to Panama, where no canal yet existed and a perilous crossing to the Atlantic side must be made. Either way, troops could not be gathered into a single body for weeks after the first call for them was made.
As to the federal army, not only was it scattered, but it was dissipating, as men who sympathized with the South began crossing over, or in many cases, took over the units for the South, chasing away those in uniform who supported the Union. Lincoln simply did not have an army with which to wage war at the moment he became commander in chief.
On its own merits, that fact eliminates all the issues that occurred up to his inauguration as either the cause or the source of the beginning of the war, since war itself was physically impossible until then. Argument might be made, however, that some of the earlier issues set up a chain of events leading to war, or that war might have occurred because of them without direct effect. With that possibility still in play, it is important at this juncture to consider the opinion of the one man who had the power, from March 4, on, to either cause or initiate the Civil War.
Without his cooperation, war could not be fought, whether the South desired war or not. That man, of course, is Lincoln, who, as commander-in-chief of the federal armed forces as of March 4, could launch or withhold the armies against the South, if, that is, such armies existed. That being the case, his opinion as to what reasons he would have for starting a war are all-important. Another argument could be made that had Congress declared war after March 4, Lincoln would have been the one who must execute it if it were to be fought, in his role as chief executive.
Congress, however, never declared war on the South at any time, in part because constitutional issues with regard to declaring war on a section of the same country would have created a crisis. Anything said before that must be relegated to the realm of hearsay, inadmissible in court. The full text of his inaugural address is available in this volume, as Appendix I. And his future actions, the Emancipation Proclamation notwithstanding, given its actual provisions, supported this declaration. If secession had not occurred, there was not only no reason to start a war over it, it would be impossible in fact to start a war over it.
That entirely disqualifies secession, per se, as a cause of the Civil War, much less as the event that started it. The next issue to be dealt with as a cause of war would be the breaking of the Union, or the need to force states back into it. Lincoln specifically addressed this as well: If the Union was unbroken, war could not be fought to repair it, or fought in order to punish those who severed it. One more issue disqualified. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part; and I shall perform it, so far as practicable, unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means, or in some authoritative manner, direct the contrary.
I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that will constitutionally defend and maintain itself. This was a powerful statement, with regard to a cause for war. It was not the ultimate statement but it pointed toward what would develop as a cause for at least the preparation of armed response. Rather than the breaking of the Union, Lincoln was concerned with the fact that several of the Southern states had egregiously violated federal law, and in fact, remained in a condition of lawlessness in that they were now refusing to pay monies owed to the government.
That was not a shooting offense, any more than a modern day army would be sent to collect taxes of a corporation or individual refusing to pay. This was a key point, no matter how subtly Lincoln slipped it in. He did not immediately elaborate on his reason for mentioning that fact, before carrying on, but he had finally broached the issue that would provide him the foundation, with a further push by the South, for re-arming the Union, the key step before war could be initiated.
Even having made these points, having laid the groundwork for future action, Lincoln did not threaten force yet. Instead, he declared that his intention to uphold the laws should not be regarded as a menace, in so doing, expressing his disinterest in using force even in the face of insurrection and egregious violation of federal law in months past. This is another key point: Only what transpired from the moment of his taking the oath of office which in that era, occurred before, not after the swearing in of the president, could be considered candidate events for causing the war.
The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion—no using of force against or among the people anywhere. Where hostility to the United States in any interior locality, shall be so great and so universal, as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object.
While the strict legal right may exist in the government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating, and so nearly impracticable with all, that I deem it better to forego, for the time, the uses of such offices. With all that had transpired over, one could be inclusive and say the entire history of the United States, up to March 4, , the date of the inauguration, and everything that had occurred as part of that history, must be disqualified as causes of the war; only what developed after that date can be considered as the cause.
On April 12, the guns of Charleston opened fire on a federal installation, forcing the garrison to surrender. The world waited to see if he would allow it to happen without any kind of retaliation, and if he did, his effectiveness as a president would be destroyed.
Yet he could not do too much. The army was still too small and too scattered to act in any meaningful way, to punish the Confederacy, yet something must be done or he would be a lame duck president from that time onward. Lincoln, however, had foreseen such a possibility. He had known, on his way to Washington from Springfield, Illinois, in his journey to take up the presidency, that the situation with regard to Fort Sumter was volatile. In fact, the South had even fired on federal ships previously dispatched by Buchanan to rescue the garrison, and Lincoln had privately suggested that if he did nothing in retaliation, Buchanan himself ought to have been hanged for treason.
While Lincoln did not have an army with which to start war against the Confederacy over Sumter, he soon would. The proclamation, while not a direct military response, was the kind of response necessary if he was to maintain credibility as president. The call for 75, men stirred up the leadership of the South almost as much as would have happened if Lincoln had possessed such an army already and had sent it forward as an invasion force into the heart of the South. In fact, the South, and many people in the North, would describe the proclamation as a declaration of war.
When one reads the phrasing of it, however, no such intent can be gleaned from it. The text of the proclamation: Whereas the laws of the United States have been for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the Marshals by law,. Now therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed.
The details, for this object, will be immediately communicated to the State authorities through the War Department I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth will probably be to re-possess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event, the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or interference with, property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens in any part of the country.
And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid to disperse, and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days from this date. This was clearly not a declaration of war, it was only a declaration of intent to suppress rebellion, and to do so with the least force necessary.
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Let it be stated clearly that if Lincoln had been able to actually dispatch that army which would almost certainly have been separated into several smaller forces and directed to each site of insurrection, such an action might well have triggered, and could have been cited as the cause of the Civil War, whether Lincoln intended to start a war or not. Just as clearly, it must be stated that no such thing occurred, and it could not occur. One reason is that by the time the states which would provide their militias to become this new army could do so, other events would develop that would completely divert the new army from the mission Lincoln suggested in the proclamation above.
And in fact, this factor actually begins to point toward the real cause of the Civil War and the manner in which it was set in motion. Therefore, to understand the cause of the war, it is necessary to investigate this issue. The second reason that war was impossible for weeks, a reason virtually never cited in discussions of the war, is the fact that by April 12, only seven states had declared their independence and joined the Confederacy. On a map of the United States, the gap between Washington, D. Two large states fill the space, and as of April 12, both were undecided whether to secede or remain loyal to the Union.
Had one or both remained in the Union, federal armies, had they existed, could have passed through those states on their way to punish South Carolina, and then to carry on against the other rebellious states claiming to form the Confederacy. In that way, the war might have begun in the southern reaches of Virginia or upper North Carolina. Because the two states did not make a decision about their loyalties for some time after Sumter, neither the Union nor the Confederacy would cross their borders with armies out of fear of pushing the states into the enemy camp.
Those four states, in other words, formed no man lands. Why, the obvious question follows, could armies from either side not cross those states? The answer is that had either side sent an army into one of those states, uninvited, the possibility existed that the act would push the given state into the opposite camp. Virginia and Tennessee were especially desired because of either their industrial capabilities, which were sorely lacking in the rest of the South, or their resources, especially Tennessee.
Both sides, the North and South, feared that if their armies invaded one of these states, that state would join the other side. Neither side, Union or Confederacy, would take the risk by sending armies into those undeclared states until they made a clear decision, either to secede or stay loyal to the Union. In his travels from Springfield to Washington, and even after arriving in Washington, Lincoln had attempted to negotiate with leaders in Virginia, to seek a compromise to keep that state from ever against the Union.
At times, it seemed possible a deal could be struck, because a fairly significant part of the Virginia population actually opposed secession, a part of the population which did not own many slaves. Lincoln even offered to give up Fort Sumter if the Virginia leadership would promise never to secede, but they would not do so. The point of this is that if Lincoln was willing to have given up Fort Sumter to save Virginia, he certainly would not send armies into Virginia in order to reach South Carolina by way of North Carolina, which stood in the way and which had also not yet seceded, if it meant Virginia would immediately secede in protest.
This factor, the four key states not yet seceded, and their position as a roadblock for Union troops to invade the rebellious South, is generally ignored as the second reason the war had not and could not have started any sooner than the time those states made their decisions as to loyalty. If one wonders why federal armies could not invade by ship, a simple reason stands as answer.
Neither side had navies strong enough to face the shore batteries the other side could have used to repel invasion by sea. Or for that matter, invade by river, meaning, chiefly, the Mississippi and Ohio. It is impossible to over-emphasize how important this factor—the undecided states standing in the way—is in the history of the Civil War. Imagine, each side building armies but the armies could not come within visual range of each other, never mind shooting range.
In simple terms, until the disposition of North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Kentucky was settled, the Civil War could not begin. This is not to say that the cause of the Civil War was the ultimate determination of any pair of those states, but the actions of one of them would in fact trigger the war. The manner by which Virginia, not South Carolina, where the attack on Sumter occurred, became the center of the war is a story that is seldom covered in histories of the Civil War.
Marundi - Corwyn
The tendency is to mostly ignore the gap of time from April to July and carry on as if the war erupted immediately after Sumter. Why, one ought to ask, was it Virginia where the war began, and where so much of the war was fought? Before that is explored, another subtle, yet powerful issue that is also ignored in most accounts of the war will be uncovered.
This issue must be introduced by a proposal: Imagine there was no warfare, and Lincoln left the Southern states alone. Lincoln had declared that secession could not occur because the constitution forbade it by not defining it. Yet if one considers the condition of the United States, had the rebellious states been left in the position they had achieved by carrying out rebellious acts, withholding their Congressional and Senate delegations, violating all federal laws by ignoring them, and standing ready to arrest or do bodily harm to any emissaries from Washington who attempted to punish them for those violations, the situation would in effect render those states completely impervious to the authority of the United States government.
If that were the case, how then, would that situation differ from what it would have been if Lincoln had agreed to leave those states independent? In fact, if the federal government could not touch those states, and could not carry out its authority, that is if, as Lincoln put it, he as president could not equally exercise federal law in the South as he could in the North, those states would be de facto independent, physically, if not in title.
This was the supreme secret that Lincoln must hide. He could never admit that for any length of time, those states were outside the authority of the federal government. If they were, then they could be recognized by the rest of the world as independent, if Lincoln must leave them free without a fight. To prevent that situation, Lincoln could never say or do anything that suggested that the states were outside the authority of the federal government. Skillfully, he avoided describing that scenario as one in which the Confederate states were actually already independent for practical purposes.
If he were to admit the reality, and as a result, other nations recognized the Confederacy as sovereign, and he was to attack the South without direct provocation, he would have turned the United States into a rogue nation in the eyes of the world, and would in fact make the country liable for sanctions or even attack by other nations. This was true before Fort Sumter. Some thought is required to consider the dilemma presented by the Fort Sumter attack. By April 12, the Confederacy had been able to get away with all its insurrectional actions long enough that their claim of independence was beginning to appear to be successful.
Had other nations by that time recognized the Confederacy as a sovereign state, their argument that federal troops on their soil was tantamount to the presence of an invasion force might have been granted credibility in the larger world. In that case, their further argument that unless the garrison surrendered, it could be attacked would have been granted some validity by the international community.
After all, one could wonder, how long would the United States, in , have permitted a foreign nation with which it had ill relations to hold a military post on federal soil without demanding its surrender or attacking it if it did not? That was the position the South claimed for itself with regard to the garrison at Sumter.
In other words, by their reckoning, they had every right to demand that a foreign power remove its garrison, or they would eject it forcefully. When the South did subsequently successfully eject the garrison and the president could do no more than call up troops, the claim of independence by the Confederacy took another step closer to validity for the world to see. That Lincoln did not have an army to send to immediately take re-establish federal authority in South Carolina meant that he either must send one when he had one, or he would have to attack the South long after it had gotten away with yet another provocation, another major case of flouting federal authority.
Even at that, however, as long as Lincoln could keep up the picture of a rogue section of the nation requiring suppression, he could still avoid admitting they were independent and would then be in the position of either having to let them go or having to fight a war to bring them back under federal control. After all the discussions of what caused the Civil War, it was this need by Lincoln to suppress a rebellion that set the stage for the beginning, and thus served as the cause, of the Civil War. With that question finally resolved, that of what caused the war, the remaining question to be answered before it is possible to carry on with an account of the war, is what started the actual fighting, in other words, how was the war triggered.
How then, did the history of the nation pass from that configuration, to one of full-scale war, a war which took place in a state which, as of April 15, and indeed later, was still a loyal member of the Union, not of the Confederacy? To answer that, it is necessary to zero in on the state of Virginia, from April 15, , to July 21, when the first actual battle that marked the beginning of the war occurred When Lincoln set out on his passage from Springfield to Washington, he remained a private citizen. The position of president-elect is not a position at all and confers no powers or duties upon the future president until he takes the oath of office on the day appointed for the changing of administrations, which in would be March Fourth.
Lincoln knew by December 22 of that problems existed upon which he must make a beginning to resolve soon after arriving and taking up the office of president. Among those problems were threats to federal forts in the harbor at Charleston, South Carolina, and elsewhere, particularly in Florida, where federal troops were housed. The Confederacy intended to seize those forts and oust the troops, and if they did so, Lincoln would face, as president, a situation which would demonstrate whether he would fold up to Confederate demands, or confront them.
To the people, from the ordinary citizens across the land, to the already-elected, to the already serving personages of the government, and even to the press, Lincoln was a mystery. The fact that he lived farther away from the seat of government than any president before him only magnified concern that he was totally disconnected from the real world of national politics and issues. That was the general attitude in the North. To the South, Lincoln was an onrushing monster, the enemy, the potential engine of destruction threatening their way of life, and they already opposed him before he uttered his first official word.
Nothing he might say would appease them, and that fact was one of the concerns that worried the Northern people: Fear existed that he would not face up to the fact that only independence would satisfy the South, or conversely, that upon realizing that, Lincoln would give in to them without a fight. Furthermore, in current times, the outgoing administration presents the incoming one with everything it must know to function from day one, even from hour one, including detailed top secret intelligence files and global situation reports. In contrast, an incoming president in had only what resources were in his hands to prepare him to take over at the moment of his inauguration.
Only what friends and connections he already possessed or could develop on his own were available to him until he reached Washington. In modern times, what the new president, on Day One may not personally have time to deal with, his staff will be in place to handle for him, until the rounds of parties and other social events of inaugural day are passed.
That staff will have been in place and ready for weeks before the big day. No such process existed in Washburne, of Illinois, and through Washburne, while still in Springfield, on December 22, , Lincoln passed along a letter of introduction to Lieutenant General Winfield Scott, the highest uniformed military officer in the army. Speaking of President Buchanan, Lincoln had stated to his aides that if the forts in Charleston Harbor were allowed to be taken, Buchanan ought to be hanged.
What Lincoln also knew was that while he requested Scott to prepare what action he could, the general would be operating at the disadvantage already well described, the lack of an army to act in the manner Lincoln desired. In this period, from December 22, up to and through his journey to Washington, when placed in the position of having to make a speech, or to speak off the cuff to those who button-holed him, Lincoln, as the president-elect, said as little as he could get away with, and still remain civil and pleasant.
He said no more to the public at large or the press, and certainly made no statements concerning his plans, or what he knew of the situation he was inheriting, or what he thought, or what he had already undertaken and would yet undertake as a private citizen prior to speaking the oath of office. For any other president, this would be accepted as prudent reticence, but for a nation shaking with uncertainty about its future, this mystery man was all they had to count upon, and what they saw and heard did not instill much confidence.
What must be realized is that whatever the public of the North, including the press, may have thought or felt about Lincoln in this period had no bearing on anything. He was the duly elected president, he would serve as president, and the nation had no choice but abide with their fears until he either demonstrated those fears were warranted or Lincoln acted to soothe them. Lincoln could not concern himself with the attitude of the public during that time.
He must weigh all his options and make what plans he was able to in order to deal with the same national concerns that plagued the nation, North and South and do so in a veritable vacuum. With regard to policy, Lincoln could do nothing, no matter his desires to act, until he was sworn in.
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The situation in the nation was fluid and volatile, thus it was impossible to know what exact scenario would exist when he reached Washington and took the oath of office. All he could do was prepare a list of options and write an inaugural address to outline what he knew of the situation and what he was prepared to do as a result.
That address could and must say much more, however. Otherwise, Lincoln could do no more of a political nature to prepare to take office. In his thinking, planning, and the approach to the writing of the inaugural address, Lincoln did not regard the situation ahead of him as an issue of secession. He was not the only scholar in the nation who reckoned secession to be an impossible concept due to the fact that the Constitution did not provide a means for states to excuse themselves from the nation.
While rhetoric across the land used the term secession as if it was a real and viable concept, and expected the president to cope with the separation of the seven states already claiming secession, Lincoln was able to effectively ignore those claims as having no legal merit and deal instead only with the actual actions undertaken by the states in the process of claiming to have seceded. The key in his thinking fell out of his words to Nicolay, that it was the duty of a president to execute the laws and maintain the existing government.
It was upon that concept that Lincoln would base his responses to the actions of the South. He would declare that the states claiming to have seceded, not in so claiming, but in seizing federal installations and weapons stockpiles, and in refusing to tender owed taxes and tariffs, had egregiously violated federal laws and in his capacity as chief executive of federal law, his job would be to put a stop to the lawlessness and to submit those states to federal authority. As has already been pointed out, this, not secession, slavery, or any other issue, was the true road to war, even if it was a war Lincoln did not want.
In eventually putting a stop to the lawlessness, the question which would face Lincoln, both in his deliberations and in his future actions, was that of how much force would be required from the federal authority to bring those Southern states back under control. This is an important distinction: If the necessary execution of the laws could be carried out by legal officers, such as marshals, that would have been an option available to Lincoln. If actual force were required, more force than armed officers or posses could bring to bear, that would mean military options would be called upon.
The Marundi Affair
Such had happened before. The John Brown mini-rebellion had been put down by military force, but the force had been small in number, proportionate to the threat. The same kind of response could be brought to bear in the South, if the threat remained small enough. Lincoln recognized that the threat might reach a size too large for any armed forces available when he became commander in chief to control, however.
Had the Northern people even a hint of what Lincoln would do in that respect, they would have sighed with relief, to know they had a president who was everything they could have hoped for. And as history has recorded, despite some of his errors and shortcomings, much more than they had imagined. Lincoln also recognized that his definition of coercion would not be the key factor in determining whether war would erupt.
What he must decide at some point was how far he would be able to go in attempting to force the South into compliance with federal law before they would respond with more force than marshals or the miniscule elements of a federal army he could immediately bring together could handle. In anticipation that he would find need to undertake more than the South could stomach, no matter how much in the right he might be, when Lincoln reached Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he conducted the second key act since alerting Winfield Scott to his wishes with regard to the forts in Charleston Harbor.
In the Pennsylvania capital, Lincoln met with Governor Andrew Curtin, and reviewed with him several companies of Pennsylvania militia. This is a groundbreaking agreement. The militias of the states were partially thought of as bulwarks against excessive federal intrusion, which was exactly how the Southern states were prepared to use their militias. In fact, the Pennsylvania militia, and those of other states, would be federalized, that is, turned over to the government to the point that the federal government would be the paymaster for the soldiers, and federal military leaders would give the federalized militias their commands.
Thus, the governors would surrender their roles as commander-in-chief of the militias, turning them over to Lincoln. Such an arrangement was only by handshake agreement at the time it was made, given that Lincoln was then only president-elect and possessed no authority whatsoever, but nevertheless, the groundwork was laid for a time when and if Lincoln called for the federalization of state militias as president.
This embryonic army, this army in waiting, this secret army, could and would be joined by other armies, of the same kind—state militias—to be turned over to federal use when the time came, that is, to the use of the president. In this way, Lincoln would arrive at Washington in an appearance of powerlessness, of lacking any response to Southern aggression, and he would enhance this impression by refraining from revealing that preparations for the sudden and rapid buildup of an army were in the works.
While this was a good start at rebuilding the federal army, it was only a first step. The existence of a few men in arms serving as Pennsylvania militia did not mean an actual army yet existed. In peacetime, the militias of the Northern states served more as social clubs for the men who were enrolled than as actual military entities.
Virtually no military training was carried out, and very little military equipment available. Still, they were a nucleus around which a viable army could be built, and when Lincoln needed them, they would prove to be ready. And in this, Pennsylvania was far from being alone. In carrying out this stealth operation, acting without the slightest official authority, while the nation still trembled in fear that he would be humbled by the opposition, Lincoln had succeeded in stealing a march on that opposition, the South.
Another state that would offer its militia to Lincoln before the inauguration was Massachusetts, but other states already saw the need to potentially defend themselves and the nation and began gearing up their own militias and would eagerly hand them over to Lincoln when he needed them. The address had to serve several purposes. He must also offer an olive branch if the South mended its ways, while making clear he would do something if they did not, and just as importantly, if they continued to act out. He did not have to say what he would do, he only had to show both the North and the South that he would not be pushed around.
So key and masterful was the speech that it must be somewhat dissected if a serious investigation of how the Civil War began is to be made. While the entire speech is presented in Appendix I, in this section, it will be enough to examine excerpts, in order to illustrate the major points.
Lincoln had personally and solely written the core of the speech, he had honed it, then had aired it out among political advisors, who suggested specific, key refinements. They counseled that some of his words, as originally penned, were too bellicose, and might offend too many people in the South. Other words were not strong enough. A considerable number of people in the South still had sympathies with Lincoln and the North, including some slave owners. That does not even factor in the entire state of Virginia, still to be wooed in hopes of staying loyal.
Lincoln and his advisors did not wish to alienate anyone who remained a potential ally or loyalist in any way, but threatening and ugly rhetoric directed toward their homeland might do so. Carefully, then, the speech was tweaked and trimmed to near perfection, such that in its final form, as Lincoln read it to the world, it became a document for the ages. In that speech, after laying out his opinion that no such concept as secession existed, Lincoln drove straight to the core of the issue,. It follows from these views that no State, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union—that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence, within any State or States, against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws, the Union is unbroken; and to the extent of my ability I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States.
In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. Certainly he did not mention that he had already asked the general in chief, Winfield Scott, to prepare to carry out those actions.
He had certainly avoided even hinting what he would do if war were forced upon him. Having declared secession a non-existent concept, Lincoln was thus able to label the actions of the rebels as essentially treasonous attacks against their own country, without threatening any specific sanctions. He left it to be possibly interpreted that if the rebellious part of the nation undid the insurrectional actions it had undertaken, perhaps the whole situation would be set aside and the nation could go forward on better terms, toward better things.
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Furthermore, in declaring that the union remained unbroken, Lincoln had negated the need for any large scale changes to be made in order to repair it. If no states had left, no reconstruction would be needed, in fact, reconstruction, per se, would be a meaningless concept. Obviously that had the appearance of wishful thinking, but in reality, Lincoln was presenting the best case scenario, the wisest course he believed the South could follow, and if they refused, he had made it clear he would not be responsible for what had to follow.
The point has been made previously in these pages that the reality of the situation Lincoln faced was that the Southern states were physically outside the control of the federal government. Instead, Lincoln must carry on the farce that the South was still part of the Union and that he would take action to correct the insurrectional nature of their activity. If he waited too long, the Confederacy would by default be accepted as a free nation in the world and all hope for the Union would be gone.
That being the true situation that faced Lincoln as he delivered the inaugural address, he must not only buy time to rebuild the army, he must buy time to keep the world from recognizing the fact that the Confederacy was in fact independent unless he could act to prove it was not.
Lincoln must always carry on with the rhetoric that the states were not independent or separated from the Union, they were only in temporary rebellion. That was the key to everything he would do beginning on March 4, onward. Lincoln was caught, and well knew it, in a tight corner, as he spoke the inaugural address, in that he could not initiate war without an army, he could not admit that the seven Southern states were already physically independent, and he could not admit any intentions to build an army, invade those states and force them back into the control of the government.
He could do none of this until some egregious event occurred, on the part of the South, that would justify extreme actions on his part. This is where his foreknowledge that the Confederacy would almost certainly use some level of force against forts still technically in the hands of the United States came into play. It was unlikely that the situation regarding the South would remain at status quo for very long. Soon, the states that were on the cusp would declare their loyalty one way or another, opening up avenues for federal troops to enter the South if an invasion became necessary.
And most likely, something would develop in the South that would in fact make invasion necessary. Quiet actions remained open for Lincoln to undertake to try and push the situation to his advantage. He entered into intense negotiations with representatives of the state of Virginia who spoke for the unionists, asking them what concessions would be required to convince the leaders in favor of secession to change their minds, with the implication that up to a reasonable point, Lincoln would offer whatever it would take to win them away from the side of secession.
One of the important points about Virginia was the fact that if the state did not join the Confederacy, a strong possibility existed that the Southern states, those already part of the Confederacy, would realize they could not survive on their own and might come crawling back. They needed Virginia and to a slightly lesser extent, needed Tennessee, which had also not yet gone over, and to yet lesser extents, they needed North Carolina and Arkansas.
Maryland and Delaware were not reckoned likely to leave the Union despite their status as slave states. Missouri and Kentucky were both also on the cusp. Once officially in office, despite the threat of war, of claimed or actual secession, of the continuation of slavery, the president of the United States had other work he could not ignore. In the days that followed his ascension to the presidency, Abraham Lincoln was flooded with requests by people seeking the great treasure trove of government jobs that erupted in the wake of a new administration.
The process of filling the positions was almost miraculously simpler than it is today, with the president far more directly involved than is even possible in the current era. While Lincoln had been aware of the issue of the forts in Charleston Harbor and the near-certainty the Confederacy would act against them eventually, he had hoped and expected to have much more time for his armies to grow first. Instead, he learned that the time would be far less than his worst assumptions. Most of the installations seized by the South had been manned by small contingents, sometimes only a single officer or enlisted man who oversaw stockpiles of weapons and ammunition.
This was the normal case for most federal armories around the nation during peacetime in the middle of the Nineteenth Century. Little force had actually been required to take over the facilities in the South. In most cases, those stewards of the armories accepted the fact that they were in no position to defend themselves and agreed to vacate the premises. More than a few, being Southern sympathizers themselves, willingly turned over their positions and joined the rebellion.
Forts Pickens and Sumter were more than mere armories, and they were not manned by such powerless contingents. Among the 16, federal soldiers splayed out across the entire country were garrisons in place at the two fortresses, one in Florida, the other in Charleston Harbor of South Carolina. In January of , Lt. Nearby was Fort Pickens and under threat by local personnel desiring to seize the installation, as other federal bases had been taken, Slemmer abandoned Barancas in favor of Pickens, which he deemed more defensible than Barancas.
In December of , Major Richard Anderson had made a similar move of men from nearby Fort Moultree, on solid land in Charleston Harbor, to Fort Sumter, situated on an artificial island.
Ignoring the legality or lack thereof regarding the letter of the constitution concerning secession, the Southerners reckoned their states to be separate sovereign entities and therefore armed representatives of the federal government of the United States were unwanted occupiers of their new national body.
The moves by Anderson and Slemmons had occurred after Lincoln was elected but before he took office. Buchanan had tolerated the acts of insurrection, the taking of federal facilities, and it is not surprising because many men in his administration would join the Confederacy when Lincoln reached Washington. And worse, members of his administration had arranged to have as many guns and as much ammunition as possible removed from federal armories in the North and sent to the South, and therefore, the taking of those armories by the South only completed the act of both disarming the North and arming the South.
It would have created an awkward situation if the Southern states had openly attacked serving US troops while a sympathetic president remained in office. Their fight was not with Buchanan, it was with Lincoln, but Buchanan had to at least act like a president for a few more weeks.
Rather than openly attack the installations, the Southerners closed in, with the prospect of starving the federal forces out. If Buchanan was seen to permit this to succeed, it would be little less distasteful to a nation that had elected Lincoln than if he countenanced an actual assault that killed or chased out the garrisons. Thus in late January of , the Buchanan government negotiated an arrangement by which supplies would be landed, if the Southern leadership refrained from attacking the garrisons.
As a result, the situation with Pickens would remain a standoff, but not so for Fort Sumter. What Buchanan had not been prepared to do was reinforce the garrisons that were under siege. While not authorized to initiate hostilities himself, Anderson was under orders to defend his position if he must. At that time, he still occupied Fort Moultree. He later judged Sumter the better position from which to hold out and transferred his garrison to the island on December Twenty-Sixth.
They demanded that Buchanan order Anderson back to Moultree but he refused. South Carolina then took over all the federal installations in the region except Sumter itself. Allowing this all to play out was one of the points over which Lincoln suggested Buchanan ought to be hanged as a traitor, himself. After the formality of secession, the leadership of South Carolina attempted to negotiate a transfer of the bases that existed in the area of Charleston Harbor, including Sumter.
Some actual tension developed between the Buchanan and the South Carolinians when the president permitted a ship, Star of the West to be chartered and dispatched to Fort Sumter with the mission of reinforcing and re-supplying the garrison. On January 9, the ship reached Charleston Harbor; shore batteries fired upon it and the ship withdrew without success.
The implications in this action, especially in light of what would develop a month after Lincoln assumed office, must be carefully considered. A federally mandated expedition, to bring succor to a federal installation and federal soldiers, was attacked by the authorities of a state, a clear act of treason by any reckoning. Given that a similar act in future months would be regarded as the first shots of war, it is curious that no such declaration occurred now.
If firing on ships dispatched as a federal expedition did not constitute war in January, how could firing upon the federal facility itself, in April, be otherwise declared? The claim by most accounts of the Civil War that the firing upon Fort Sumter in April was the beginning of the war makes no sense, in that the president, Lincoln in that latter case, also did not declare that war had begun with the attack on Sumter. In the January instance, Star of the West withdrew under fire and the garrison remained in place on the island.
Clearly, the South, and its developing national entity, the Confederate States of America, were content in having set up the situation, to let it simmer until Lincoln replaced Buchanan in the White House. Clearly, the South had the option of either allowing Lincoln to wait by doing nothing more with regard to forts Pickens and especially Sumter, or by forcing his hand. Instead, the South took a new step, ratcheting the situation one notch higher toward crisis.
After delivering his inaugural address, Lincoln received word that unless the garrison at Fort Sumter were re-supplied, Anderson would have to surrender in a short time. This news set the crisis at a boil. Far sooner than he had imagined upon arriving in Washington, Lincoln faced a severe trial.
In truth, however, Lincoln was no more in a position to support Anderson militarily than he was to undertake any other action against the South. His options included ordering Anderson to surrender the fort, but that would be worse than taking no action at all, which in turn would result in causing Anderson to surrender out of desperation when his men were starved. That option could include attempting to both re-supply the garrison and reinforce it with more men. In fact, Lincoln had prepared another possible option to solve the dilemma of Fort Sumter.
After arriving in Washington, but prior to the inauguration, Lincoln met with, among others, a certain William C. Rives, from Virginia, a former Minister to France. Present also in this meeting was a Charles S. Moorehead, formerly a governor of Kentucky.
On the subject of response by the new administration to the actions of the South, Moorehead stated that if Lincoln resorted to coercion to bring the states back into control, the history of his administration would be written in blood. Do you mean by coercion the collecting of revenue and the taking back of the forts which belong to the United States? And he implored Lincoln not to carry them out and trigger war.
The meaning of this was that even without involving Virginia in any way, without any threat against the state, without marching troops into and through the state, Virginia would regard coercion by the federal government against the rebellious states as cause to join with them. President, I have no authority to speak for Virginia Give us guarantees and I can only promise you that whatever influence I possess shall be exerted to restore the Union to what it was.
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