DescriptionFrancis W. Pickens Autograph Document Signed "F.W. Pickens." One page with integral blank, 8" x 12.5", Charleston, January 1, 1861. Just six days after Pickens assumed the office of governor, South Carolina formally seceded from the United States. One of his first acts as governor was to order the immediate withdrawal of all Federal troops under the command of Major Robert Anderson from Fort Sumter, located in Charleston Harbor. The order was refused. On December 31, Pickens placed former Charleston mayor, Maj. Gen. John Schnierle, in charge of area operations.
The following day, he wrote this letter to Schnierle, but hearing that he was ill (Schnierle died on April 14, the same day that Fort Sumter fell), he changed the recipient to Schnierle's second in command, Brig. Gen. James Simons (1813-1879), in part: "In consequence of the sudden illness of Gen. Schnierle you are ordered to proceed to Fort Moultrie immediately and take charge in person of the troops there as well as at Morris' Island and Castle Pinckney and Fort Jackson, and defend these those positions to the best of your ability under all the circumstances of the case, according to the general orders issued to you yesterday morning." Light spots of scattered foxing and areas of ink smudging. Docketed on the verso.
Simons reported back to the governor that day providing a general feeling within the militia and the risks to the state if war began (the report was printed in 1862 in the pamphlet The Record of Fort Sumter). The report angered Pickens, who then stood in the way of Simons' advance in the Confederate Army. Simons later resigned and reenlisted as a private in the Marion Artillery.
Eight days later, on January 9, the first shots of the war were fired as cadets from The Citadel (a military college located in Charleston) fired on the merchant ship, Star of the West, which was bringing supplies to Fort Sumter.
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