1861 January 2nd

January 2 1861 Wednesday

District of Columbia. Colonel Inspector-General of the District of Columbia Militia Charles Pomeroy Stone was placed officially in charge of securing the safety of the capital. Discussions had firsy begun between US President James Buchanan and Major-General Winfield Scott on 31 December 1860, to instigate plans for the defence of the Capital District. Stone had identified and enumerated the local militia and volunteer forces available, since no Regular Army troops were normally stationed nearby. A small detachment of US Marines held Fort Jefferson and the Washington Navy Yard. Stone found a loyal company of the Potomac Light infantry at Georgetown, and a growing company of the National Rifles with two mountain howitzers but these had strongly Southern sympathies. The Washington Light Infantry had 160 men and a small National Guard battalion loyal to the Federal government. Stone raised and equipped thirty-three new volunteer companies of infantrymen and riflemen and within six weeks he had equipped thirty-three companies of infantry and riflemen,  and two troops of cavalry for the defence of the city. Stone had broken up the pro-Southern “National Volunteers” units and the National Rifles were restored to a more reliable allegiance.

Georgia. Fort Jackson and the US Arsenal in Savannah were seized by Georgia State troops under instruction from Georgia members of the US Congress. Fort James Jackson (usually called Old Fort Jackson or Fort Jackson) was located on the Savannah River, two miles east of the city of Savannah. Fort Jackson was constructed between 1808 and 1812 over an old earthen battery dating from the American Revolution. James Jackson was a British native who fought for the American cause and rose to the rank of colonel; he accepted the surrender of the British in Savannah at the close of the Revolutionary War. Fort Jackson, Fort McAllister, and Fort Pulaski combined to defend Savannah from attack. The fort was commanded by Colonel Edward Clifford Anderson and would become the Confederate Headquarters for the Savannah River defences, including a squadron of the Confederate Navy.

Maine. Israel Washburn succeeded Lot M Morrill as Governor of Maine.

Michigan. Austin Blair succeeded Moses Wisner as Governor of Michigan.

New Mexico Territory. Incident at Clearon River.

North Carolina. North Carolina state troops were ordered to seize Fort Macon, the forts at Wilmington, and the US Arsenal at Fayetteville.

South Carolina. US President James Buchanan refused to receive a letter from the South Carolina Commissioners informing the President of the unprotected situation of Major Robert Anderson’s garrison at Fort Sumter. This letter prompted the US Government to prepare reinforcements to b sent to Fort Sumter.

Fort Johnson in Charleston Harbour was occupied by South Carolina State forces. Fort Johnson stood at Windmill Point on James Island near Charleston. The first fort was constructed about 1708 and was named after the Proprietary Governor of the Carolinas, Sir Nathaniel Johnson. A second fort was built in 1759 with portions of its walls made from seashells; it was destroyed in 1780 by British forces. A third fort was built in 1793, was abandoned temporarily in 1800 after a storm breached its sea wall. Some work apparently was done during the War of 1812, but another storm in 1813 almost destroyed the fort. By 1827, scarcely a vestige remained. The fort was dropped from reports of United States fortifications, although between 1820 and 1830 a free-standing brick magazine was constructed on the eastern side of the reservation along with an armed Martello tower on the western side. The wooden interior of this tower was burned in 1859. During early 1861, South Carolina state troops erected two 10-inch mortar batteries of two mortars each and an earthwork of three guns. The signal shot which opened the bombardment of Fort Sumter and marked the beginning of the American Civil War was fired from the eastern mortar battery on 12 April1861. During the next three years, considerable building activity turned Fort Johnson into an entrenched camp mounting 26 guns and mortars.

Virginia. The US Government ordered the USS Brooklyn, stationed at Norfolk, to be prepared to sail to the possible aid of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbour, South Carolina.

Union Organisation

Commander in Chief: President James Buchanan

Vice-President: John Cabell Breckinridge

Secretary of War: Joseph Holt

Secretary of the Navy: Isaac Toucey

  • African Squadron USN: Captain William Inman USN
  • Brazil Squadron USN: Captain Joshua R Sands USN.
  • East Indian (Asiatic) Squadron USN: Captain Cornelius K Stribling USN
  • European Squadron USN: vacant
  • Home Squadron USN: Captain Garrett J Prendergast USN
  • Mediterranean Squadron USN: Captain Charles H Bell USN
  • Pacific Squadron USN: Captain John B Montgomery USN

General–in-Chief: Winfield Scott

  • Department of California: Benjamin Lloyd Beall temporary
  • Department of the East: John Ellis Wool
  • Department of New Mexico: Thomas Turner Fauntleroy
  • Department of Oregon: George Wright
  • Department of Texas: David Emanuel Twiggs
  • Department of Utah: Philip St George Cooke
  • Department of the West: William Selby Harney

Union Seniority

Major-General USA

Winfield Scott

Brigadier-General USA

John Ellis Wool
David Emanuel Twiggs
William Selby Harney

Brigadier-General USA (Staff)

Joseph Eggleston Johnston

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