I have searched the Internet, but can’t find the article. If you have a URL, I’d appreciate your posting it.
Postmaster Blair has a couple of things wrong. First, Lincoln didn’t “secretly” and “surreptitiously” withdraw the vessel the Union “chiefly relied on to effect the relief of Fort Sumter and thus foiled the attempt.” That honor went to Lincoln’s Secretary of State and political enemy, William Seward, ably abetted by Lt. David Dixon Porter. Because this is a rather long story, I am posting my second point here and will post more about this in my second message.
Secondly, the war ship sent to Fort Pickens, rather than Fort Sumter, was the USS Powhatan, not the USS Pocahontas. The joint Army-Navy force sent to Charleston Bay on April 8, was made up of the USS Pocahontas, commanded by Commander John Gillis; the steamer USS Baltic, which carried recruits and provisions and also evacuated the garrison at Fort Sumter; the steam sloop, USS Pawnee, commanded by Steven Rowan, was the Baltic’s escort; the Revenue Service cutter, Harriet Lane; and three tugs. Only one of the tugs, the Yankee, arrived off the Charleston Bar. Entries from the “Dictionary of American Fighting Ships” for these ships follow:
Powhatan remained active throughout the Civil War. She served as Flag Officer Pendergast’s flagship at Vera Cruz during October 1860. In April 1861, while under the command of Lt. David Dixon Porter, she assisted in the relief of Fort Pickens, Fla.
Pocahontas: “Departing Vera Cruz during the secession crisis, ‘Pocahontas’ arrived at Hampton Roads 12 March, and on 5 April was assigned to the small joint Army-Navy force sent to Charleston Harbor to provision the federal garrison at Ft. Sumter. However, she did not reach Charleston Harbor until the afternoon of the 13th, as Major Anderson was surrendering the beleaguered United States fort. The next day she helped evacuate the Union troops and returned north.
Pawnee spent the first three months of 1861 in Washington, D.C. and was sent on an expedition to Charleston, S.C. 6 April to relieve Major Anderson’s garrison at Fort Sumter. Delayed by a severe storm, she arrived only to find that the Fort had been surrendered to Confederate forces.
Harriet Lane again transferred to the Navy 30 March 1861 for service in the expedition sent to Charleston Harbor, S.C., to supply the Fort Sumter garrison. She departed New York 8 April and arrived off Charleston 11 April. The next day she fired a shot across the bow of Nashville when that merchantman appeared with no colors flying. Nashville avoided further attack by promptly hoisting the United States ensign, but 2 days later raised the Palmetto flag to begin her career as one of the most elusive Confederate privateers. When Major Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter 13 April, Harriet Lane with drew with her sister ships.
The first Yankee—a side-wheel steamer built in 1860 at New York City—was one of three steam tugs chartered early in April 1861 at New York City for use on the expedition to provision Fort Sumter, S.C. She departed New York on 8 April and arrived off Charleston Bar on the 15th, a few hours after Major Robert Anderson's command had evacuated the fort and embarked in Federal transport Baltic.
Musicant, Ivan. “Divided Waters: The Naval History of the Civil War,” New York: Harper, Collins, 1995.
“The Dictionary of American Fighting Ships” www.history.navy.mil/danfs/index.html