Captains of the Civil War: A Chronicle of the Blue and the Gray
States which claimed a sovereign right to secede from the Union naturally claimed the corresponding right to resume possession of all the land they had ceded to that Union's Government for the use of its naval and military posts. So South Carolina, after leading the way to secession on December 20, 1860, at once began to work for the retrocession of the forts defending her famous cotton port of Charleston. These defenses, being of vital consequence to both sides, were soon to attract the strained attention of the whole country. There were three minor forts: Castle Pinckney, dozing away, in charge of a solitary sergeant, on an island less than a mile from the city; Fort Moultrie, feebly garrisoned and completely at the mercy of attackers on its landward side; and Fort Johnson over on James Island. Lastly, there was the world-renowned Fort Sumter, which then stood, unfinished and ungarrisoned, on a little islet beside the main ship channel, at the entrance to the harbor, and facing Fort Moultrie just a mile away. The proper war garrison of all the forts should have been over a thousand men. The actual garrison—including officers, band, and the Castle Pinckney sergeant—was less than a hundred. It was, however, loyal to the Union; and its commandant, Major Robert Anderson, though born in the slave-owning State of Kentucky, was determined to fight.
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