Saturday, November 21, 2015

Book review focusing on the days leading up to the shelling for Fort Sumter.

Lincoln and the First Shot by Richard N. Currrent is reviewed briefly here.  Rather than re-invent the wheel, I will make only a few comments.  This is a good, short, documented book focusing on the crucial events leading up the Confederate shelling of  Ft. Sumter.

Neither side wanted to fire the first shot and hoped their opponent would do it.  Both Davis and Lincoln were under pressure to not back down.  Lincoln declared secession illegal and promised to protect or recover any federal facilities.   Many of Davis' supporters wanted war, but Davis hoped Lincoln would back down.  Both sides underestimated the determination of their opponents.  Both sides hoped the other should back down.  Both sides forged ahead waiting for the other to back down.  No one backed down.  The result was the bloodiest war Americans ever fought.

The lost cause delusionists claim that Lincoln wanted war and maneuvered the Confederates into firing the first shot.  The logical problem, and the reason for the dispute, is definitional.  IF, secession was legal, the attempt to re-supply Sumter was an  aggressive act by a foreign power to reinforce an  unlawful military facility.  Lincoln started the war under this assumption. This assumes that secession was constitutional and valid.  Lincoln had promised to preserve the union.  IF secession were illegal, interfering with a federal military facility, and demanding its surrender and firing on it is an act of war.  The rebels started/caused the war.  This debate cannot be settled by facts.    However, note that no nation recognized the Confederacy.  Neither side wanted war, but neither would back down.  Rather than wait until the re-supply boat for Sumter approached and then sinking it or blocking it, Confederates, started shelling Ft. Sumter.  If they could stop the re-supply ship,  Ft. Sumter would have to surrender peacefully.  However, this is a moot point.  Given that the 2 adversaries had radically different interpretations of the situation and neither side would back down, war was inevitable.

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