December 26, 1860: Anderson moves from Moultrie to Sumter

Robert Anderson
Robert Anderson, Commander of Union forces at Fort Sumter

Telegrams. The first one is dated the 26th: I include the next few a bit prematurely to show the exchange.

Reports of Maj. Robert Anderson, U. S. Army, of the evacuation of Fort Moultrie.

No. 11. FORT SUMTER, S. C., December 26, 1860—8 p. m. (Received A. G. 0., December 29.)

COLONEL: I have the honor to report that I have just completed, by the blessing of God, the removal to this fort of all of my garrison, except the surgeon, four non-commissioned officers, and seven men. We have one year’s supply of hospital stores and about four months’ supply of provisions for my command. I left orders to have all the guns at Fort Moultrie spiked, and the carriages of the 32-pounders, which are old, destroyed. I have sent orders to Captain Foster, who remains at Fort Moultrie, to destroy all the ammunition which he cannot send over. The step which I have taken was, in my opinion, necessary to prevent the effusion of blood.

Respectfully, your obedient servant,
ROBERT ANDERSON, Major, First Artillery, Commanding.
CoL S. COOPER, Adjutant-General.


Adjutant- General’s Office, December 27, 1860.
Major ANDERSON, Fort Moultrie:

Intelligence has reached here this morning that you have abandoned Fort Moultrie, spiked your guns, burned the carriages, and gone to Fort Sumter. It is not believed, because there is no order for any such movement. Explain the meaning of this report.

J. B. FLOYD, Secretary of War. [Telegram.]


December 27, 1860.
Hon. J. B. FLOYD, Secretary of War:

The telegram is correct. I abandoned Fort Moultrie because I was certain that if attacked my men must have been sacrificed, and the command of the harbor lost. I spiked the guns and destroyed the carriages to keep the guns from being used against us. If attacked, the garrison would never have surrendered without a fight.

ROBERT ANDERSON, Major, First Artillery. No. 12.
December 27, 1860.


COLONEL: I had the honor to reply this afternoon to the telegram of the honorable Secretary of War in reference to the abandonment of Fort Moultrie. In addition to the reasons given in my telegram and in my letter of last night, I will add as my opinion that many things convinced me that the authorities of the State designed to proceed to a hostile act. Under this impression I could not hesitate that it was my solemn duty to move my command from a fort which we could not probably have held longer than forty-eight or sixty hours, to this one, where my power of resistance is increased to a very great degree.

The governor of this State sent down one of his aides to-day and demanded, “courteously, but peremptorily,” that I should return my command to Fort Moultrie. I replied that I could not and would not do so. He stated that when the governor came into office he found that there was an understanding between his predecessor and the President that no reenforcements were to be sent to any of these forts, and particularly to this one, and that I had violated this agreement by having re-enforced this fort. I remarked that I had not re-enforced this command, but that I had merely transferred my garrison from one fort to another, and that, as the commander of this harbor, I had a right to move my men into any fort I deemed proper. I told him that the removal was made on my own responsibility, and that I did it because we were in a position that we could not defend, and also under the firm belief that it was the best means of preventing bloodshed.

This afternoon an armed steamer, one of two which have been watching these two forts, between which they have been passing to and fro or anchored for the last ten nights, took possession by escalade of Castle Pinckney. Lieutenant Meade made no resistance. He is with us to-night. They also took possession to-night of Fort Moultrie, from which I withdrew the remainder of my men this afternoon, leaving the fort in charge of the overseer of the men employed by the Engineer Department.

We have left about one month’s and a half of provisions in that fort; also some wood and coal and a small quantity of ammunition. We are engaged here to-day in mounting guns and in closing up some of the openings for the embrasures—temporarily closed by light boards, but which would offer but slight resistance to persons seeking entrance. If the workmen return to their work, which I doubt, we shall be enabled in three or four days to have a sufficient number of our guns mounted, and be ready for anything that may occur.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
ROBERT ANDERSON, Major, First Artillery, Commanding.
Col. S. COOPER, Adjutant-General.

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One Response to December 26, 1860: Anderson moves from Moultrie to Sumter

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