James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.

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  If Beauregard had had Anderson’s last response, he would unquestionably have waited to ask Montgomery for further instructions. The presence of the United States fleet was of course disquieting; yet the danger from this source, even as exaggerated in Beauregard’s mind, could be averted quite as well by acting on the defensive, as by the bombardment of Fort Sumter. 1 But South Carolina was hot for possession of the fort and the aides who gave the order that precipitated hostilities were swayed by the passion of the moment.  15   In April, 1861, war was undoubtedly inevitable. The House divided against itself could not stand. The irrepressible conflict had come to a head; words were a salve no longer. Under the circumstances it was fortunate for Lincoln that the South became the aggressor. Davis’s elaborate apology 2 and the writing inspired by it could never answer the questions put by Northern to Southern soldiers, when they met under a flag of truce or in the banter between Confederates and Federals when opportunities offered, “Who began the war? Who struck the first blow? Who battered the walls of Fort Sumter?” 3  16     “At one stamp of his foot, the President called the whole nation to arms,” wrote Henry Adams in 1861 while in Washington. 4 He referred to the Proclamation asking for 75,000 volunteers whose first service would probably be “to repossess the forts, places and property which have been seized from the Union.” Lincoln wrote this on the Sunday when Anderson marched out of Sumter (April 14) and, following closely the act of February 28, 1795, his authority, he called forth that number of militia, apportioned among twenty-seven
Note 1. O. R. N., IV, 252, 262. [back]
Note 2. III, 351 n. 3. [back]
Note 3. Watson, 98; see Russell, 204. [back]
Note 4. M. H. S., XLIII, 687. [back]