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96 Series I Volume I- Serial 1 - Charleston

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Page 96 OPERATIONS IN CHARLESTON HARBOR, S. C. Chapter I.

removed from the arsenal, nor that, if he did so, he spoke by authority of the Government; but, on the other hand, I do know that an order was given to issue to me forty muskets; that I actually needed them to ordnance sergeants under them at Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckeny, and that I have them in my possession. To give them up on a demand of this kind seems to me as an act not expected of me by the Government, and as almost suicidal under the circumstances. It would place the two forts under my charge at the mercy of a mob. Neither of the ordnance sergeants at Fort Sumer and Castle Pinckney had muskets until I got these, and Lieutenants Snyder and Meade were likewise totally destitute of arms.

I propose to refer the matter to Washington, and am to see several gentlemen who are prominent in this matter to-morrow. I am not disposed to surrender these arms under a threat of this king, especially when I know that I am only doing my duty to the Government. If the violent persons in the city seize upon this opportunity to excite the mob to acts of violence the property of the United States, or those having it in charge, it will only be as that which must soon occur, and which they have actually been looking for.

I must say plainly that I have for some days arrived at the conclusion that unless some arrangement is shortly made by Congress, affairs in this State will arrive at a crisis, and a conflict between the Federal forces and the troops of this State be a not improbable event.

I have endeavored to keep you fully informed of my efforts to prepare for it, and of this I will write more fully to-morrow.

Very respectfully, yours,

J. G. FOSTER,

Captain of Engineers.

[Inclosure Numbers 1.]

CHARLESTON ARSENAL, S. C.,

December 18, 1860.

Captain J. G. FOSTER,

U. S. Engineer Corps, Sullivan's Island, S. C.:

DEAR CAPTAIN: The shipmen of the forty muskets, &c., has caused intense excitement. General Schnierle called upon me this morning, and assures me that some violent demonstration is certain unless the excitement can be allayed, and says that Colonel Huger assured the governor that no arms should be removed from this arsenal. As the order under which I made the issue to you was dated prior to Colonel Huger's visit here, I am placed in rather a delicate position. I have pledged my word that they (the forty muskets and accouterments) shall be returned by to-morrow night, and I beg that you will return them to me. I informed General Schnierle that you only desired two muskets, but that I could not issue them without the proper order, but that I had an old order covering the issue of the forty. In views of my pledge that the muskets shall be returned, and the position which Colonel Huger is placed by the issue, I feel satisfied that you will comply with my request. In haste.

Very truly, yours,

F. C. HUMPHREYS,

Military Storekeeper Ordnance, U. S. Army.


Page 96 OPERATIONS IN CHARLESTON HARBOR, S. C. Chapter I.

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