The diplomatic manoeuvres and interchanges recounted in the preceding chapter were regarded by Foreign Secretaries and Ministers as important in themselves and as indicative of national policy and purpose. Upon all parties concerned they left a feeling of irritation and suspicion. But the public knew nothing of the details of the inconclusive negotiation and the Press merely gave a hint now and then of its reported progress and ultimate failure. Newspapers continued to report the news from America in unaccustomed detail, but that news, after the attack on Fort Sumter, was for some time lacking in striking incident, since both sides in America were busily engaged in preparing for a struggle in arms for which neither was immediately prepared. April 15, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers, and three weeks later for 42,000 additional. The regular army was increased by 23,000 and the navy by 18,000 men. Naval vessels widely scattered over the globe, were instructed to hasten their home-coming. By July 1 Lincoln had an available land force, however badly trained and organized, of over 300,000, though these were widely scattered from the Potomac in the east to the Missouri in the west.

In the South, Davis was equally busy, calling at first for 100,000 volunteers to wage defensive battle in protection of the newly-born Confederacy. The seven states already in secession were soon joined, between May 4 and June 24, by four others, Arkansas, Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee in order, but the border states of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, though strongly sympathetic with the rest of the South, were held to the Union by the "border state policy" of Lincoln, the first pronouncement of which asserted that the North had no purpose of attacking slavery where it existed, but merely was determined to preserve the Union. The Northern Congress, meeting in extra session on July 4, heartily approved Lincoln's emergency measures. It authorized an army of 500,000, provided for a loan of $200,000,000, sanctioned the issue of $50,000,000 in Treasury notes and levied new taxes, both direct and by tariffs to meet these expenditures.

In the months preceding the attack on Sumter the fixed determination of the South to secede and the uncertainty of the North had led the British press to believe that the decision rested wholly with the South. Now the North by its preparations was exhibiting an equally fixed determination to preserve the Union, and while the British press was sceptical of the permanence of this determination, it became, for a short time, until editorial policy was crystallized, more cautious in prophecy. The Economist on May 4 declared that the responsibility for the "fatal step" rested wholly on Southern leaders because of their passionate desire to extend the shameful institution of which they were so proud, but that the North must inevitably, by mere weight of population and wealth, be the victor, though this could not conceivably result in any real reunion, rather in a conquest requiring permanent military occupation. Southern leaders were mad: "to rouse by gratuitous insult the mettle of a nation three times as numerous and far more than three times as powerful, to force them by aggressive steps into a struggle in which the sympathy of every free and civilized nation will be with the North, seems like the madness of men whose eyes are blinded and hearts hardened by the evil cause they defend."

Two weeks later, the Economist, while still maintaining the justice of the Northern cause, though with lessened vigour, appealed to the common sense of the North to refrain from a civil war whose professed object was unattainable. "Everyone knows and admits that the secession is an accomplished, irrevocable, fact.... Even if the North were sure of an easy and complete victory - short, of course, of actual subjugation of the South (which no one dreams of) - the war which was to end in such a victory would still be, in the eyes of prudence and worldly wisdom, an objectless and unprofitable folly[319]." But by the middle of June the American irritation at the British Proclamation of Neutrality, loudly and angrily voiced by the Northern press, had caused a British press resentment at this "wilful misrepresentation and misjudgment" of British attitude. "We do believe the secession of the Slave States to be a fait accompli - a completed and irreversible transaction. We believe it to be impossible now for the North to lure back the South into the Union by any compromise, or to compel them back by any force." "If this is an offence it cannot be helped[320]."