Powhatan Incident

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POWHATAN INCIDENT. When the Civil War began, President Abraham Lincoln determined not to give up the two remaining federal forts in southern territory—Fort Sumter at Charleston, South Carolina, and Fort Pickens at Pensacola, Florida. The administration ordered relief expeditions to both forts, but Secretary of State William H. Seward, in an attempt to maintain his supremacy in Lincoln's cabinet, secretly ordered the war-ship Powhatan to Fort Pickens instead of Fort Sumter. Although Lincoln eventually countermanded Seward's order, the ship was already on its way to Fort Pickens. The Pickens expedition was successful, but without the Powhatan's firepower, the relief of Sumter failed.


Current, Richard Nelson. Lincoln and the First Shot. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1963.

Potter, David Morris. Lincoln and His Party in the Secession Crisis. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1995.

Thomas RobsonHay/t. g.

See also"Alabama" ; Confederate States of America ; Executive Orders ; Federal Government ; South, the: The Antebellum South .