Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 14.djvu/129
Died for Their State." 123
the State sovereignty, freedom and independence which were left to us as an inheritance to their posterity forever," and it was in defence of this high and sacred cause that the Confederate soldiers sacrificed their lives. There was no need for war. The action of the Southern States was legal and constitutional, and history will attest that it was reluctantly taken in the last extremity, in the hope of thereby saving their whole constitutional rights and liberties from destruction by Northern aggression, which had just culminated in triumph at the presidential election, by the union of the North as a section against the South. But the North, left in possession of the old government of the Union, flushed with power, and angry lest its destined prey should escape, found a ready pretext for war. Immediately upon secession, by force of the act itself, the jurisdiction of the seceding States respectively, over the forts, arsenals, and dockyards within their limits, which they had before ceded to the Federal Government for federal purposes, reverted to and reinvested in them respectively. They were of course entitled to immediate repossession of these places, essential to their defence in the exercise of their reassumed powers of war and peace, leaving all questions of mere property value apart for separate adjustment. In most cases the seceding States repossessed themselves of these places without difficulty; but in some the forces of the United States still kept possession. Among these last was Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Caro- lina. South Carolina in vain demanded the peaceful possession of this fortress, offering at the same time to arrange for the value of the same as property, and sent commissioners to Washington to treat with the Federal Government for the same, as well as for the recog- nition of her independence. But all her attempts to treat were re- pulsed or evaded, as likewise were those subsequently made by the Confederate Government. Of course the Confederacy could not continue to allow a foreign power to hold possession of a fortress dominating the harbor of her chief Atlantic seaport; and the Federal Government having sent a powerful expedition with reinforcements for Fort Sumter, the Confederate Government at last proceeded to reduce it. The reduction, however, was a bloodless affair; while the captured garrison received all the honors of war, and were at once sent North, with every attention to their comfort, and without even their parole being taken.
But forthwith President Lincoln at Washington issued his call for militia to coerce the seceding States ; the cry rang all over the North that the flag had been fired upon ; and amidst the tempest of passion