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Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter




Location: Charleston County, SC   Map

Construction: 1827

Area: 197 acres (0.9 km2)




Description of Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter is a famous site where first shorts of the Civil War were fired in 1861. It is located Charleston County, South Carolina in United States. It was originally constructed in 1827 and covers an area of 197 acres (0.9 km2).




Fort Sumter until the Civil War

Towards the end of the Anglo-American War of 1812 between the United States and Great Britain, United States erected a series of fortifications on the Atlantic coast. Construction work on the Fort Sumter began in 1829. However, at the beginning of the war in 1861 it was still unfinished. For its construction, more than 70,000 tons of New England granite were used. Because of the strategic position you could easily control all maritime traffic entering and leaving the state. The exterior shape of the fort described an irregular pentagon between 170 and 190 feet on each side (approximately 51 to 58 meters). The original fortification was equipped with walls of 5 feet (about 1.5 meters). Fort Sumter was designed to house up to 650 men and 135 guns on three floors.


Fort Sumter in the Civil War

Although in the course of the Civil War many states left the union after the declaration of secession of South Carolina, the Army of the United States maintained important strategic positions in the southern states. The one in Charleston was one of the few deep-water ports of the Confederates, so it played a very important role. Six days after South Carolina declared its secession from the Union, Major Robert Anderson secretly moved his troops (127 men) from the indefensible Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter.

During the following months numerous calls were made to the capitulation of the fort to which the Unionists did not accede. Confederate troops of General P. G. Beauregard opened artillery and mortar fire on April 12 at 4:30 am from nearby sources (Fort Moultrie, Fort Johnson and Cummings Point). The bombing lasted more than 30 hours.

On the afternoon of April 13, Commander Anderson surrendered the fort Sumter, evacuating his men the next day. There were no casualties among the defenders during the bombing, however, one gunner was killed and three others were injured when one of the guns that were making a salute during the evacuation exploded. This episode was the first act of the Civil War.


Fort Sumter today

Fort Sumter National Monument encompasses three sites in Charleston: the original Fort Sumter, the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center, and Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island. Access to Fort Sumter itself is by private boat or a 30-minute ferry ride from the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center or Patriots Point.

The Visitor Education Center's museum features exhibits about the disagreements between the North and South that led to the incidents at Fort Sumter. The museum at Fort Sumter focuses on the activities at the fort, including its construction and role during the Civil War.

The Fort Moultrie Visitor Center is located at 1214 Middle Street, Sullivan's Island across from the fort itself. There is a self-guiding brochure available and interpretive wayside exhibits posted throughout the fort. Guided tours are offered daily at 11:00 am and 2:30 pm, based on staff availability. The center offers an orientation film and museum exhibits about American seacoast defenses from 1809-1947, and the history of the first two forts. There is an information desk staffed by NPS Rangers, a book / souvenir store and bathrooms.




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