|Texas Defender wrote:
In March of 1861, the new Confederate Government sent representatives to WDC for the purpose of attempting to buy federal property within the boundaries of the seceded states. They were rebuffed by Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward.
The last thing that Mr. Lincoln would ever have done would have been to sell federal property to the Confederates. It would have been a de facto recognition of the legitimacy of the Confederate Government. Mr. Lincoln's position was that the states had not in reality left the Union. He had already stated that he would not accept secession.
Ft. Sumter commanded the entrances and exits of Charleston harbor. That was the purpose for its construction on an artificial island there. As long as the Federals remained there, they controlled the harbor. This the Confederates could not accept on a permanent basis. Still, the decision to attack the fort was the worst thing the Confederates could have done. It gave Mr. Lincoln the incident he needed to mobilize the northern population and call for volunteers to invade the southern states.
What makes the decision to attack even worse was that it wasn't necessary. Major Anderson had already been kind enough to tell the Confederates that his provisions would run out by 15 April, and he would have to leave.
The best course of action for the Confederates would have been to wait out Major Anderson. But hotheaded people seldom have the patience to follow their best course of action. Out of anger and belligerence, as well as fear of an all out Federal attempt to resupply the fort, they attacked on 12 April.
If they had waited, I don't believe that it would have mattered in the end. It would only have postponed the inevitable. Mr. Lincoln would have pursued another incident in another place in order to justify raising a great army to use to reassert Federal control. The bottom line was that the Confederates were determined to leave the Union, and Mr. Lincoln was determined that they would not. Neither side would back down, so in the end, the question could only be resolved by force of arms.
There is evidence that it was not just a resupply mission but a reinforcement.