U.S. Maj. Robert Anderson and S.C. Gov. Francis Pickens both received President Lincoln’s message that a large naval expedition was on its way to Charleston to resupply Fort Sumter with supplies, additional troops, and arms. As noted in our April 6 entry, Lincoln’s message read: “I am directed by the President of the United States to notify you to expect an attempt will be made to supply Fort Sumter with provisions only; and that, if such an attempt be not resisted, no effort to throw in men, arms, or ammunition will be made without further notice (except) in the case of attack on the fort.

The Confederates already knew from intelligence as well as newspaper reports, that a large naval expedition had left New York heading south. Confederate President Jefferson Davis ordered Gen. Pierre G.T. Beauregard to prevent those ships from entering Charleston Harbor.

Indeed, according to historian Robert Rosen, writing in A Short History of Charleston, some of the warships were heading to Fort Pickens in Pensacola, FL, but that fact was kept so secret that Confederate leaders incorrectly assumed the entire expedition was headed to Fort Sumter. Their guard was up, thanks to Lincoln’s notification of the provisional ships’ arrival — undoubtedly just as Lincoln hoped they would be.