The Civil War 150 Years Ago: March 1861

The Civil War 150 Years Ago

March 1861

  • On the second, the US Congress rejects comprise resolutions from the Peace Convention, ending attempts for a political comprise.
  • The night of the third, President elect Lincoln dines with his new cabinet for the first time.  Earlier, Lincoln toured the Senate and General Scott told Seward that a major relief effort for Fort Sumter is impractical.
  • On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln becomes the 16th president of the United States.  In his inaugural address, Lincoln states that the Union cannot be undone by secession and promises to maintain all Federal property.  The new government cannot allow slavery to expand but will leave slavery intact where it exists.  Lincoln spends his first day as President in discussion over Fort Sumter.  Major Robert Anderson informs the government that in about five weeks, the fort will be out of supplies.  General Scott estimates that it will take 20,000 soldiers to take and hold the fort.
  • On March 6, the Confederate Congress authorizes an army of 100,000 volunteers for a year.
  • The Confederate States of America meeting in Montgomery adopts a constitution on the 11th.
  • President Lincoln orders Secretary of State Seward NOT to meet with CSA delegates on the 13th.
  • Forts Sumter and Pickens occupy the President and cabinet for the balance of March.  Gustavus V. Fox is asked to see if relief is possible by visiting Charleston.  Braxton Bragg forbids selling supplies to Fort Pickens or the supporting navy squadron.  By the end of the month, over objections from his cabinet, Lincoln orders relief expeditions for both forts.  The Sumter expedition will sail no later than April 6; the fort will not be able to continue much beyond that point.  Lincoln faces a cabinet badly divided over the Federal response to the crisis.  Secretary of State Seward is looking for a political solution and Secretary of War Simon Cameron refuses to take a position.
  • Sam Huston refuses to take an oath of allegiance to the CSA.  Texans force him to retire as Governor on the 18th.
  • The same day, Charles Francis Adams becomes minister to Great Britain, one of the critical appointments of the war.  Adams serves with honor frustrating many Confederate purchases as he supports America’s position and works to keep the British government out of the war.
  • On March 20, state forces in Mobile seize the USS Isabella, on a resupply mission to Fort Pickens.
  • Secession conventions and popular votes occur across the nation.  A convention at Mesilla, Arizona Territory votes to succeed.  Missouri, while refusing to succeed, splits in Confederate and Union camps.  Captain Nathan Lyons takes command of the arsenal at St. Louis as Governor Claiborne F. Jackson works to get Missouri to succeed.






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