OPINIONS WRITTEN BY MEMBERS OP THE CABINET AT THE VERBAL REQUEST OF THE PRESIDENT, AT A CABINET MEETING HELD TO DETERMINE THE QUESTION OF SENDING AN EXPEDITION TO RELIEVE FORT SUMTER, March 29, 1861.
Mr. Welles, Secretary of the Navy wrote:
I concur in the proposition to send an armed force off Charleston with supplies of provisions and reinforcements for the garrison at Fort Sumter, and of communicating at the proper time the intentions of the government to provision the fort peaceably if unmolested. There is little probability that this will be permitted if the opposing forces can prevent it. An attempt to force in provisions without reinforcing the garrison at the same time might not be advisable; but armed resistance to a peaceable attempt to send provisions to one of our own forts will justify the government in using all the power at its command to reinforce the garrison and furnish the necessary supplies.
Fort Pickens and other places retained should be strengthened by additional troops, and, if possible, made impregnable.
The naval force in the gulf and on the southern coast should be increased. Accounts are published that vessels having on board marketable products for the crews of the squadron at Pensacola are seized -- the inhabitants we know are prohibited from furnishing the ships with provisions or water; and the time has arrived when it is the duty of the government to assert and maintain its authority.
Bibliography: Lincoln, Works, eds. Nicolay and Hay, 6: 228-229.