Confederate States of America - Message to Congress February 26, 1861

EXECUTIVE OFFICE, February 26, 1861.

Gentlemen of the Congress: Though the General Government of the Confederate States is specially charged with the questions arising from the present condition of Forts Sumter and Pickens, and the Executive is required by negotiation or other means to obtain possession of those works, and though the common defense and the issues of peace or war of the Confederate States must necessarily be conducted by their general agents, the only material of war which we possess is held by the authorities of the several States. To distribute the arms and munitions so as best to provide for the defense of the country, it is needful that they be placed under the control of the General Government. We have now but little information as to the quantity and quality of the military supplies on hand, and have no authority to call for returns from the officers of the States. The courtesy and patriotism of the respective Governors would no doubt willingly meet such inquiry, and would probably induce them to transfer either armament or stores in compliance with a requisition from this Government, but efficiency requires the exclusive control as well of the means as of the works of defense. The General Government being also charged with foreign intercourse, may have in the course of negotiation to account for the property of the United States which, as a consequence of secession, passed under the authority of the several States anterior to the formation of this Government. For these considerations I respectfully suggest that the proper legislation. be adopted to secure the transfer of all arms and munitions now in the forts, arsenals, and navy yards to the custody of the Government of the Confederate States, and that full returns be made of all arms and munitions which have been distributed from the public stores to the troops of the several States, with authority to this Government to take charge of the accountability for them, and also to receive, to be accounted for to the several States, such arms and munitions as have been purchased by them, and which they are willing to devote to the common service of the Confederacy. The difficulty of supplying our wants in that regard by purchases abroad or by manufacture at home is well known to the Congress, and will render unnecessary an argument to enforce the general policy herein presented, and I have only respectfully to commend the subject to your consideration.


Richardson, James D.
A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy
Including the Diplomatic Correspondence 1861-1865
Nashville : United States Publishing Company, 1905
127 Wall Street, New Haven, CT 06511.