Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 4.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To Gustavus V. Fox [1]

Capt. G. V. Fox Washington, D. C.
My dear Sir May 1, 1861

I sincerely regret that the failure of the late attempt to provision Fort-Sumpter, should be the source of any annoyance to you. The practicability of your plan was not, in fact, brought to a test. By reason of a gale, well known in advance to be possible, and not improbable, the tugs, an essential part of the plan, never reached the ground; while, by an accident, for which you were in no wise responsible, and possibly I, to some extent was, you were deprived of a war vessel with her men, which you deemed of great importance to the enterprize. [2]

I most cheerfully and truly declare that the failure of the undertaking has not lowered you a particle, while the qualities you developed in the effort, have greatly heightened you, in my estimation.

Page  351For a daring and dangerous enterprize, of a similar character, you would, to-day, be the man, of all my acquaintances, whom I would select.

You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort-Sumpter, even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the result. Very truly your friend A. LINCOLN


[1]   ALS, MHi.

[2]   The Powhatan had been placed under command of David D. Porter on secret orders (q.v., April 1, supra). Fox's report, April 19, 1861, on the failure of the Sumter expedition, emphasized the storm of April 12-13 and the expectation of the arrival of the Powhatan, which was to play a leading role in the attempt to relieve the fort. Fox commented with understandable bitterness, ``I learned on the 13th instant that the Powhatan was withdrawn from duty off Charleston on the 7th instant, yet I was permitted to sail on the 9th, the Pawnee on the 9th, and the Pocahontas on the 10th, without intimation that the main portion---the fighting portion---of our expedition was taken away.'' (OR, I, I, 11).