March 1861

 

As of the end of February, seven states (South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas) had seceded.

On March 3, 1861, General Winfield Scott wrote a letter to Secretary of State Seward stating that relief of Fort Sumter was not practical. The next day, March 4, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th president of the United States, such as it was, before 30,000 onlookers, and great numbers of troops, intended to prevent much threatened harm. Through out the first half of March, representatives of Confederate President Davis attempted to meet with Lincoln or his cabinet members; Lincoln refused to allow this to happen, feeling that it would lend legitimacy to the Confederacy to "recognize" its representatives. On March 16, Arizona voted to leave the Union, and the Confederacy later established a territorial government for Arizona. Also on the 16th, the Confederacy appointed commissioners to Britain, intent on gaining recognition for the new "nation." On the 18th, a convention in Arkansas rejected a move to secede by a 39 to 35 vote, but it was agreed to put the issue to a state-wide popular vote later in the summer. On March 29, Lincoln finally reached a decision on what to do about Fort Sumter. He declined to withdraw the Federal troops but instead decided to supply and support the troops there. Two days later, a force was ordered to Florida to relieve the troops at Fort Pickens, while Fort Bliss in Texas was surrendered to state troops. Lincoln's goal is to stand steady against the tide of secession, but at the same time, not provoke the outbreak of hostilities.

March ended with the same seven states having seceded, and a clear understanding that Fort Sumter was the likely flash point. The next major engagement after March of 1861 was the firing and surrender of Fort Sumter on April12 and 13 respectively.

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