Fort Sumter is located in Charleston Harbor, and is known as the site where the Civil War began. On April 12, 1861, the first shots of the war were fired upon the fort. Built in 1829 (or should we say construction began in 1829, as the fort wasn’t completed by 1861), Fort Sumter was one of several forts built along the southeastern coastline of the U.S. An imposing structure, it is 190 feet long with five-foot thick walls and was built to house over 600 men and 130 guns when filled to capacity. South Carolina seceded from the Union in December of 1860, and Union forces held Fort Sumter under the command of Major Robert Anderson. Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard was not amused, and demanded the fort be surrendered. Anderson refused, and early in the morning of April 12, 1861, the Confederates opened fire on the fort. The battle continued for almost 36 hours, and in the end, the weakened Union forces surrendered without bloodshed. However, the terms of surrender allowed the Union to fire a 100-gun salute before leaving the fort, and an accidental explosion took the life of one gunner and critically wounded a second. Fort Sumter was and still is considered the site upon which the war began. In 1863, Union forces twice attempted to retake Fort Sumter, once under the command of Rear Admiral Samuel Francis DuPont and once under Major General Quincy A. Gillmore and Rear Admiral John Dahlgren, but both attempts failed. The Confederacy had been busily fortifying and arming the fort with slave labor. The fort boasted over 40 pieces of artillery, including some of the deadliest guns known at the time. During the war, Fort Sumter had been badly damaged and was restored by the U.S. Army. For a time, it was used as a lighthouse, but is now a popular tourist attraction.

Have you visited the fort?