We visit Fort Sumter - first shot of Civil War

Trip Start Apr 18, 2007
Trip End Oct 16, 2007

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of United States  , South Carolina
Friday, September 28, 2007

Today we took the ferry trip to Fort Sumter which is a fort in the middle of the entrance to Charleston harbour built on rocks brought down from the north as balast - seems it took a heck of a long time to complete


Fort Sumter, located in Charleston, South Carolina, was named after General Thomas Sumter. However, the fort is best known as the site where the shots initiating the American Civil War were fired, at the Battle of Fort Sumter.

Fort Sumter was built after the War of 1812 as one of a series of fortifications on the southern U.S. coast. Construction began in 1829, and the structure was still unfinished in 1860, when the conflict began. Seventy thousand tons of granite were imported from New England to build up a sand bar in the entrance to Charleston harbor, which the site dominates; The fort was a five-sided brick structure, 170 to 190 feet long, with walls five feet thick, standing 50 feet over the low tide mark. It was designed to house 650 men and 135 guns in three tiers of gun emplacements, although it was never filled near capacity.

On December 26, 1860, five days after South Carolina declared its secession, U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson abandoned the indefensible Fort Moultrie and secretly relocated his two companies (127 men, 13 of them musicians) of the 1st U.S. Artillery to Fort Sumter. He thought that providing a stronger defense would delay a Rebel attack. The Fort was not yet complete at the time and fewer than half of the cannons that should have been there were available due to military downsizing by James Buchanan. Over the next few months, repeated calls for Union surrender from Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard were ignored, and Union attempts to resupply and reinforce the garrison were rebuffed.
On April 12, 1861, at 4:30 a.m., Confederate batteries opened fire, firing for 34 straight hours, on the fort. It has been said that Edmund Ruffin, a soldier and secessionist from Virginia, fired the first shot, although that is under some debate. The garrison returned fire, but it was ineffective, since Major Anderson did not allow his men to use cannons that had a high possibility of being hit by the Confederate attack. On April 13, the fort surrendered and was evacuated. During the attack, the Union colors fell. Lt. Norman J. Hall risked life and limb to put them back up, burning off his eyebrows permanently. No Union soldiers died in the actual battle, though a Confederate soldier bled to death having been wounded by a misfiring cannon. One Union soldier died and another was mortally wounded during the 27th shot of a 100 shot salute, allowed by the Confederacy. Afterwards the salute was shortened to 50 shots. Accounts, such as in the famous diary of Mary Chesnut, describe Charleston residents along what is now known as The Battery, sitting on balconies and drinking salutes to the start of the hostilities.
A special military decoration, known as the Gillmore Medal, was later issued to all Union service members who had performed duty in Fort Sumter during the opening battle of the American Civil War.
The Fort Sumter Flag became a popular patriotic symbol after Maj. Anderson returned North with it. The flag is still displayed in the fort's museum.

There was an excellent ex-sergeant major who gave a guided tour in a very loud voice.

We headed back to the hotel via a Dennys-style mega breakfast and spent some time round the pool. Evening meal was a trip north up I26 to a Texas roadhouse - $32 - excellent.
Slideshow Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • You must enter a comment
  • You must enter your name
  • You must enter a valid name (" & < > \ / are not accepted).
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: