Charleston, South Carolina

The Fort Sumter National Monument

After the War of 1812, congress authorized the creation of Fort Sumter, which was named after the Revolutionary War hero General Thomas Sumter. The fort was built to protect the harbor outside of the city of Charleston, South Carolina. Construction began in 1829, and the structure was still unfinished in 1861, when the Civil War began. At the time of the civil war there was four forts within the Charleston Harbor, with Sumter being the largest of the forts.

Author Philip Andrew Hamilton standing by a cannon used by the Confederate Army during the course of the Civil War.

On November 1860, Major Robert Anderson was promoted to the commander of Fort Moultrie, near Fort Sumter.

On December 1860, shortly after the state of South Carolina ceded the Union and became the “Republic of South Carolina” ship the Star of West was sailed past Fort Sumter. There was an altercation where shots were fired at the ship. The incident almost led to the outbreak of the Civil War, but the federal garrison decided to not escalate the attack. President Buchanan chose time not invade the Republic of South Carolina.

As more states seceded from the Union to join the Confederacy, federal troops left the forts in those states. However, the commander of the four federal forts around Fort Sumter, under the command of Robert Anderson decided to hold their ground. Commander Anderson decided to secretly abandon the less secure Fort Moultrie to the higher and more secure walls within Fort Sumter. However, this undercover action angered Jefferson Davis and members of the Confederate government.

On April 1865, a telegraph was sent from the the Confederate Capital, in Montgomery, Alabama, to South Carolina authorizing an attack on Fort Sumter if the federal troops did not vacate. The federal troops did not leave, thus resulting in a two day battle which led to the federal troops evacuating the fort.

Union soldiers got a hold of fort near Charleston and utilized a massive cannon with a range of 5 miles. That cannon fired 36 shots into the city of Charleston before it was disabled.

Confederate soldiers held onto Fort Sumter for years until General Sherman began his March to Charleston. Confederate soldiers finally abandoned the fort once news of Sherman’s march reached military command.

Author’s Note:

Between 1809 and 1810, Castle Pinckney, which was named after South Carolina politician Charles Pinckney, was built in the Charleston Harbor. In 2011, the Sons of Confederate Veterans purchased the site of Castle Pinckney.

On March 15, 2020, President Donald Trump signed the “Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park Act”, a bill introduced by South Carolina Republican Tim Scott, into law. The law turned Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie from National Monuments into National Parks.