|There appears to be a glaring error on Catechism Page 5 in reference to "Did the South in firing on Fort Sumter begin the war?"
The writer answers, "No, Lincoln began the war by secretly attempting to land troops at Fort Pickens, in Florida in violation of a truce existing between Federals and Confederates at that place. This was long before Fort Sumter was fired on----"
Well, that is a matter of interpretation. Actually it is just plain wrong. The writer conveniently ignores the fact that even before Florida officialy seceded, though it was sure they would, the governor ordered the Florida militia to seize Federal arsenals at St Augustine, Fernandina and Chattahoochie and they did.
Knowing they occupied poorly fortified positions in Fort Barrancas and Fort McRee in Pensacola, the small Federal garrisons there led by Lt Adam Slemmer raced to the incomplete Fort Pickens after spiking guns and destroying gunpowder stores at the two weaker forts. Florida and Alabama state militias then occupied the Forts Barrancas and McRee. These same troops also occupied the Pensacola Navy Yard and Dry Docks. The governor wanted to seize Federal arsenals to provide the state militias with desperately needed weapons as the state could not arm their own soldiers.
There's more. The new Florida Confederate government then asked LT Slemmer to surrender the fort!!! He refused. That created a stalemate. If the FL and AL militias had tried to take the fort by force, matters would have escalated to a dangerous level, but the THEN president of the United States, James Buchanan, worked out an arrangement whereby neither side would fire the first shot at Fort PIckens. That was the truce.
After that the first shot of the war was fired at Fort Sumter by Confederates April 12, 1861. AfterFort Sumter was fired on and only after that, the Union attempted to land reinforcements at Fort Pickens with the result that Confederate artillery batteries opened fire on Fort Pickens to no avail because Fort Pickens remained under Union control throughout the war.
I will give the writer of the Catechism the benefit of the doubt. It may have been written at a time when rigorous research had not been completed that would establish definitive timelines as to what events took place in reference to other events before and during the war. Or perhaps such information did exist, but the writer of the Catechism just was unaware of the actual sequence in which important events occurred.
One last caveat: When was the actual "First Shot" of the Civil War and who fired it? If anyone can really know, I'm sure quite a few theories have been put forward and one such theory does relate to Fort Barrancas, Fl, the aforementioned arsenal and garrison.
While that site was still occupied by Federal troops, one night a gang of anti-Union men menaced the fort. A Federal sentry fired a warning shot over the gang's heads and they dispersed. The next day, Lt. Slemmer ordered Fort Barrancas abandoned...so I guess the gang won that encounter after all using the theory of who occupies the ground at the end of an engagement is the winner.