Anderson, Robert

Life Span
Dickinson Connection
Appointed to command Fort Sumter by President James Buchanan (Class of 1809)
Full name
Robert Anderson
Place of Birth
Birth Date Certainty
Death Date Certainty
Sectional choice
Slave State
No. of Spouses
No. of Children
Richard Clough Anderson (father), Sarah Marshall (mother), Elizabeth Bayard Clinch (wife, 1845)
West Point (US Military Academy)
US military (Pre-Civil War)
Union Army

Robert Anderson (American National Biography)

As the nation became increasingly divided by sectional interests, Anderson, who until 1860 owned a few slaves in his wife's native state of Georgia, wrote, "In this controversy between the North and the South, my sympathies are entirely with the South." Although he believed that in the long run secession was probably inevitable, Anderson was devoted to the Union, and he opposed immediate demands for separation and what he saw as extremism on both sides. This combination of southern sympathies and Union loyalty led to Anderson's being assigned in November 1860 to command the three Federal forts at Charleston, South Carolina, where cautious tactfulness was needed. Aware that Fort Moultrie, at which he was headquartered, was indefensible, he vainly sought reinforcements and specific orders from the James Buchanan administration, which was strongly influenced by southerners. South Carolina's secession on 20 December convinced Anderson that he should move to Fort Sumter, an incomplete but stronger post on an island in Charleston Harbor. He did so secretly on 26 December and then rejected all demands that he evacuate the fort.
Lowell H. Harrison, "Anderson, Robert," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
Date Event
Congressional Commission to examine the methods of training at West Point meets for the first time
Kentuckian Major Robert Anderson assigned to take command of Fort Moultrie in South Carolina
Commander of federal forces in Charleston, South Carolina asks again for area forts to be manned
In Charleston, Major Anderson is ordered not to provoke but also to resist attack
Under cover of night in Charleston Harbor, Major Anderson consolidates his forces at Fort Sumter
Secretary of War Floyd demands that the Cabinet permit withdrawal of federal forces from Charleston
South Carolina militia occupy Fort Moultrie and Castle Pinckney in Charleston Harbor
Major Anderson requests safe passage for the soldiers' families at Fort Sumter before any attack begins
In Charleston, South Carolina, Eliza Anderson pays a surprise visit to her husband at Fort Sumter
In Charleston Harbor, South Carolina authorities formally request the surrender of Fort Sumter
Major Anderson requests safe passage for the women and children of his men at Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter commander refuses shipment of fresh produce from South Carolina authorities
Dependents of the federal forces at Fort Sumter transfer to a waiting steamship for evacuation
Dependents of the federal forces at Fort Sumter sail for New York from Charleston Harbor
General Beauregard demands that Major Anderson surrender Fort Sumter immediately
- Confederate artillery bombard Fort Sumter
Beauregard again demands that Major Anderson surrender Fort Sumter immediately
Major Anderson accepts a ceasefire and prepares to evacuate Fort Sumter
Major Anderson and his men evacuate Fort Sumter and sail for New York
Major Anderson and his command arrive in New York Harbor
Remarkable gathering of 100,000 New Yorkers in Union Square in support of suppressing the rebellion
Robert Anderson, hero of Fort Sumter, takes command of Kentucky's military forces
William Tecumseh Sherman takes command of the Department of the Cumberland, replacing Robert Anderson
In Charleston Harbor, General Robert Anderson re-hoists the United States flag over Fort Sumter
Date Title
Bangor (ME) Whig and Courier, “Have We a Traitor at the Head,” December 25, 1860
New York Times, “Honor to Major Anderson,” January 3, 1861
New York Herald, “Salutes in Honor of Major Anderson,” January 6, 1861
Boston (MA) Herald, “The Crisis Approaching!,” January 8, 1861
New York Herald, “Ex-Secretary Floyd on the Crisis,” January 15, 1861
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “An Incident at Fort Sumter,” January 17, 1861
Chicago (IL) Tribune, “A Prayer For Major Anderson,” January 22, 1861
New York Times, “From Fort Sumter,” March 1, 1861
Abraham Lincoln to Winfield Scott, March 9, 1861
Winfield Scott to Abraham Lincoln, March 11, 1861
New York Times, “A Loyal Regiment,” March 12, 1861
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “Proposed Evacuation of Fort Sumter,” March 13, 1861
Chicago (IL) Tribune, "Fort Sumter," March 15, 1861
New York Times, “About Fort Sumpter [Sumter],” March 18, 1861
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “Fort Sumter,” March 22, 1861
New York Times, “A Not Very Civil War,” March 23, 1861
Chicago (IL) Tribune, “War Inaugurated!,” April 13, 1861
General P. G. T. Beauregard's General Order Number 20, April 14, 1861, Charleston, South Carolina
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “The Dread Arbitrament of War,” April 15, 1861
Entry by Josie Underwood, April 15, 1861
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “Henry Ward Beecher on War,” April 19, 1861
Abraham Lincoln, Message to the Congress in Special Session, July 4, 1861
New York Herald, “General Sherman in Kentucky,” October 13, 1861
Mary Todd Lincoln to Abraham Lincoln, November 2, 1862
Edwin Stanton, Orders for ceremonies at Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina
Reverend Henry Ward Beecher's remarks at the ceremony restoring the flag to Fort Sumter, South Carolina, April 14, 1865
Chicago Style Entry Link
Crawford, Samuel Wylie. The Genesis of the Civil War: The Story of Sumter, 1860-1861. New York: Charles L. Webster & Co., 1887.
view record
Klein, Maury. Days of Defiance: Sumter, Secession, and the Coming of the Civil War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997. view record
Swanberg, W. A. First Blood: The Story of Fort Sumter. New York: Scribner Press, 1957. view record
How to Cite This Page: "Anderson, Robert," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,