-- Hesitation and Decision --


Advice: Gideon Welles

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Gideon Welles

Navy secretary Welles, who had earlier thought it unwise to provision Sumter, now supported Lincoln's idea to resupply the fort. "I concur," he announced, "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."

Welles predicted that the attempt would, however, be resisted, and that conflict would probably occur. If this happened, it would justify the government in "using all the power at its command to reinforce the garrison and furnish the necessary supplies.

As for Pickens and other federal forts, Welles advised that they should be retained and strengthened, and "if possible, made impregnable." The time has arrived, he concluded, "when it is the duty of the government to assert and maintain its authority."

Click here for full text of Welles's advice

Bibliography: Lincoln, Works, eds. Nicolay and Hay, 6: 228-29.

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