Outside of Congressional circles there was the same absence of any new complications, any new threats, any new dangers from the North. Since the day when Abraham Lincoln was elected President there had been absolutely no change of word or act in the attitude and intention of himself or his followers. By no possibility could they exert a particle of adverse political power, executive, legislative, or judicial, for nearly three months. Not only was executive authority in the hands of a Democratic Administration, which had made itself the peculiar champion of the Southern party, but it had yielded every successive demand of administrative policy made by the conspirators themselves. The signers of this address to their Southern constituents had not one single excuse.
THE FORTY MUSKETS
Like the commandant of Fort Moultrie, the other officers of the garrison keenly watched the development of hostile public sentiment, and the steady progress of the secession movement. Some had their wives and families with them, and to the apprehensions for the honor of their flag, and the welfare of their country, was added a tenderer solicitude than even that which they felt for their own lives and persons. Hostility from the constituted authorities of South Carolina or a tumultuary outbreak of the Charleston rabble was liable to bring overwhelming numbers down upon them at any hour of the day or night.
The special study of this danger, or rather of the means to meet and counteract it, fell to Captain J.G. Foster, of the engineer corps, who had been assigned to the charge of these fortifications on the 1st of September. But his services were also in demand elsewhere, and for more than two months afterwards the works at Baltimore appear to have claimed the larger part of his time. On the day after the Presidential election he was directed to give the Charleston forts his personal supervision, and he arrived there on the 11th of November, remaining thenceforward till the surrender of Sumter.
[Sidenote] Lieut. Breck to Major Deas, June 18, 1860.
In time of peace, the administration of military affairs in the United States is somewhat spasmodic, resulting directly and unavoidably from the fact of our maintaining only the merest skeleton of a standing army compared to the vast territorial extent of the Union. As an incident of this system, Fort Moultrie had been allowed to become defenseless. “A child ten years old can easily come into the fort over the sand-banks,” wrote an officer June 18, 1860, “and the wall offers little or no obstacle.” “The ease with which the walls can now be got over without any assistance renders the place more of a trap, in which the garrison may be shot down from the parapet, than a means of defense. To persons looking on it appears strange, not to say ridiculous, that the only garrisoned fort in the harbor should be so much banked in with sand, that the walls in some places are not one foot above the tops of the banks.”