We have all discussed that the firing on Fort Sumter was a contrived plot by Lincoln to bait the South Carolinians into making the first appearence of starting a war. We know that the threat of a fort which controlled the entrance of the second most active harbor in the United States, and the largest active port in the South, could not be left in the hands of what could become an "Enemy".
There were many in the South Carolina who, like Robert Toombs, realized that firing on Fort Sumter would be a bad move. That is why for over 3 months the South Carolinians negociated with the federal Government and even supplied Maj. Anderson garrison with its needed provisions during that time.
When Negociations broke down, and Lincoln demonstrated his intentions to strenghten Fort Sumter, the implied threat of a United States blockade of Charleston harbor was very real.
What was the Southern Government and South Carolina to do?
(1) Reduce the Fort and risk a War?
(2) Do Nothing?
If the southerners choose #2. What were their options?
Certainly there were other ports in the south that could have replaced the shipping in and out of Charleston. Would that have been a workable alternative? Was maritime trade that important to the South?
What about the presidence that allowing the United States to blockade the Souths major ports? The United States prior to secession had built forts at all the Souths major ports. Lincoln would have certainly claimed the same right of occupation with these other forts that he claimed at Sumter.
I have always heard the argument that the South shouldn't have fired on Fort Sumter. But, Lincoln had no intentions of honestly negociating a settlement. Nobody ever has an answer to what the South could have tried differently. And certainly there were many smart men in the South that looked at every aspects of what would their actions entail? What were the cost?
So While firing on Fort Sumter may have been a bad moved in hindsight, what was the Alternative? Was that the ONLY move that could be made? What could the South have done differently, that they did not do, other than firing on Fort Sumter?