James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
after being transported to the neighborhood by sea, they must fight their way through to the fort. For the South Carolinians had been steadily at work on the islands in Charleston harbor erecting batteries and strengthening the forts which bore on Sumter. Moreover, Andersons provisions would not last beyond the middle of April. General Scott, the head of the army, advised the evacuation of Sumter, a logical step in the course of action toward the South, which he and other men of influence had advocated and which he expressed in the pertinent words, Wayward sisters depart in peace.1 At the Cabinet meeting of March 15 the President asked his advisers, If it be possible to provision Fort Sumter, is it wise to attempt it? Four agreed with Seward, saying, No; only two gave an affirmative answer. Lincoln undoubtedly had moments of thinking that the Fort must be evacuated.2 With his eye upon Virginia, whose convention he hoped might adjourn without action, he may have promised one of her representatives that he would withdraw Anderson, provided the Virginia convention, always a menace of secession while it continued to sit, would adjourn sine die. The evidence is too conflicting to justify a positive assertion; but if such a proposal were made, it was never transmitted to and acted upon by the convention.3
In the final decision, the sentiment of the North had to be taken into account. To abandon Sumter would seem to indicate that a peaceful separation would follow; that the principle of the sovereignty of the States and secession had triumphed. Finally, with increasing support in his Cabinet,