The Lost Gettysburg Address

The Lost Gettysburg Address by David T. Dixon Page B

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Authors: David T. Dixon
Tags: History
failed at
the eleventh hour. The day after Christmas, Robert Anderson, seeing
that his position was too exposed to safeguard his men, transported
them from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter in the middle of Charleston
harbor. This move was viewed by some Southerners as an act of
aggression. On January 9, the steamer Star of the West was attacked by
South Carolinians determined to prevent reinforcements from
entering the fort. The whole world waited to see what would happen next.
    As the nation was coming apart, Union men from all over Texas
scrambled to slow the secession momentum. In mid-January, Charles
Anderson received a letter fromJudge I. A. Paschall requesting an
immediate meeting withGovernor Sam Houston in Austin. Upon his
arrival,Anderson learned that the governor had big plans for him.
Houston desired that Anderson take control of all the forts, arsenals,
arms and munitions, and other property of the United States within
the state of Texas. By preempting the Knights of the Golden Circle,
Houston hoped he could scotch the rebellion before it began. 4
    Houston’s request toGeneral Twiggs to cede arms to the state was
met with evasion. On January 22, Twiggs replied that because he was
without instructions from Washington, D.C., he could not fulfill the
governor’s request. After secession, Twiggs continued, if the governor
repeated his demands, he would then receive an answer. Houston
did not know that Twiggs had already requested to be relieved of his
command nine days earlier. As Houston and Twiggs tried to outfox
each another, the flames of disunion grew into a full-fledged
conflagration. Four states had seceded by the time a despondent Anderson
returned to Worth Springs. He immediately wroteWilliam M. Corry
asking for advice. “Our form of government is a failure,” Anderson
lamented. “The dream is mere mirage. Our system  .  .  .  like all other
perfect theories, fails in the experience through the amazing
irrationality and malevolence of Mankind.” Though he still accused the
secessionists of igniting the revolution, the abolitionists certainly bore
blame as well. “If the people of the North had possessed the requisite
capacity for self-government,” Anderson argued, “they never would
have allowed their personal sympathies, envy and other private
passions to thrust themselves into a ballot box designed for different
motives.” 5
    While Anderson brooded, Larz managed to visit their brother
Robert at Fort Sumter. He returned to Washington carrying secret
messages. Larz had many influential friends in the capital and worked
tirelessly to achieve some sort of last-ditch compromise. Meanwhile,
Robert E. Lee remained at Fort Mason, awaiting the action of the
other Southern states. Texas did not keep him waiting long. 6 Sam
Houston, despite doing all he could to forestall a secession
convention, was losing the battle. Ultimately he was forced to yield to a
petition of sixty-one prominent citizens from all over the state. Nearly all
were KGC members. The secession convention was held on January
28. Houston again ordered Anderson to Austin, and the Texas Union
leaders awaited the results of the convention. The vote was 166 to 7
in favor of secession, to be ratified by popular vote on February 23.
“The deed is done,” Anderson wrote to his former law partner Rufus
King on February 9. “Texas goes out of the Union to which she never
ought to have belonged.” 7
    TheKGC did not wait for ratification. On January 29, they
established a Committee of Safety to begin taking “control of the arms
and munitions of war within her limits.” They feared “coercion”
from the twenty-eight hundred U.S. troops within the state’s borders.
The committee boldly stated that it expected thatGeneral Twiggs,
“a Southern man by birth and friendly to the cause of the South,”
would surrender U.S. Army property. In case he refused, the
committee commissioned former U.S. marshalHenry Eustace McCulloch to
persuade him

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