-- Final Orders --

Saturday April 6, 1861

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Sudden Problems

At about 3 p.m. this afternoon, Lincoln finally received official notification that his previous orders, dispatched on March 12, to reinforce Fort Pickens had not, in fact, been carried out.

Captain Henry A. Adams, the senior officer present at Pensacola, sent word that he had decided not to break the "truce" established at Fort Pickens because considerable time had elapsed between the time his orders had been issued and their arrival in his hands. Furthermore, his orders were not signed by the proper authority. They were signed by an army officer, General Scott, and could not supersede his previous orders signed by a secretary of the navy. Before undertaking an action that would be viewed as "a hostile act" and an "act of war," he wanted to make sure that these orders were official and still in effect.

Probably at about the same time, Lincoln also received disturbing news from Major Anderson at Fort Sumter. Anderson, reporting only a few days supply of provisions, also recounted an incident which showed the probability, if not certainty, that any relief expedition would bring conflict. On the afternoon of April 3, the Rhoda H. Shannon, a schooner carrying a load of ice from Boston to Savannah, accidently ventured into Charleston harbor, thinking it another port. When the Shannon was fired upon, the vessel's master raised the American flag thinking he was being asked to show his colors! Continuing into the harbor, more shots were fired, the ship was struck, and it turned back to sea.

Bibliography: Nicolay and Hay, Lincoln, 4: 7-8, 24-25; Current, Lincoln and the First Shot, pp. 98-99,109-10; OR, pp. 236-38; ORN, pp. 109-10.

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