The Star of the West was a side-wheel merchant steamer chartered by President Buchanan for the purpose of reinforcing Fort Sumter with troops and supplies.

The fort was located in Charleston Harbor and had been cut off from the Union (United States) since South Carolina had seeded from the Union on Dec. 20, 1860. When the Star of the West appeared in the harbor on Jan. 9, 1861, South Carolina guns fired at the ship, which then turned back to New York without reinforcing the fort.

Senator Toombs was from Georgia and became the first Secretary of State for the Confederate States of America...

The Madison Daily

Courier - Jan. 12, 1861

The steamer Star of the West has arrived. She reports that on Wednesday at 1 a.m. she made Charleston bar and laid to till daylight, when she proceeded to enter the harbor. When off Morris Island she was fired into by the batteries at that point, seventeen shots being fired at her, one taking slight effect on her port bow, and another as she turned to leave, passed between the smoke stack and the engine. Finding it impossible to land the troops, was returning to sea at 9 a.m. when the firing was continued, several shots being fired at her, she succeeded n getting to sea without further damage.

The troops will remain on board till further orders are received from Washington.

The Star of the West reports that it is only vessels of light draught of water that can get within a distance of Charleston harbor to do service; and also that those in charge of the batteries on Morris Island are not the inexperienced gunners that were supposed.

The general feeling among the troops and crew on board is in favor of being landed at Ft. Sumter, and the men are anxious to return with proper means of offence and defence...

At a private dinner party yesterday, high words passed between Senator Toombs and General Scott, according to the relations in Congressional circles. The conversation turned on the sending of troops to Charleston, when Toombs expressed the hope that people there would sink the Star of the West. The General with much earnestness, asked, whether it was possible that he, as an American desires such an event? Toombs replied affirmatively and that "those who sent the vessel there could be sunk with her." Gen. Scott thereupon asked if he was responsible for what he said, and Toombs remarked: "You have known me for 25 years and are aware that I am responsible." The matter here ended, but the subject, it is said, is now in the hands of friends.

The Madison Daily

Courier - Jan. 15, 1861

Indianapolis - There has been a very decided change in the feeling of the people hereabouts within the past few days.

Heretofore they have felt that the difficulties in South Carolina were between the authorities of that state and the General Government, and that they had but little to do with it except taking that interest in the affairs of the United States that all good citizens must take, but now that Mississippi has commenced the blockade of the Mississippi River, we feel that the trouble is being brought to our own door, and that Indiana with all the other Western States must bestir themselves before this great avenue of commerce is rendered powerless to them forever.

Men of all parties could be seen yesterday and this morning congregated in small knots on the streets discussing the all absorbing topic, and the sentiment seems to be pretty general - "war is inevitable, and let it come!"