Stop #3 – Fort Sumter National Monument

Quick Facts
LocationCharleston, South Carolina
📍32.75234, -79.87469
DesignationNational Monument
Official Website

Fort Sumter is a SEA FORT (I didn’t know we had Sea Forts) dating back to the War of 1812 and was built on an artificial island to protect Charleston, South Carolina. Commissioned after the Burning of Washington in 1814 (during the War of 1812), engineers performed measurements on the sand bar in 1827 and began construction in 1829.

70,000 tons of granite had been brought down form New England to build up the sand bar into an artificial island. By 1834, several feet beneath the water the timber foundation had been completed; the decision was then to build a (stronger) brick fort, and had Fort Sumter been completed, it would have been one of the strongest forts in the world. Title (like who owns the land), funding problems, unpleasant weather, and disease caused many problems and the builders only completed the outside of the fort; with the interior and armaments never being completed. On December 17, 1836, South Carolina needed all “right, title, and claim” to the site of Fort Sumter to the Untied States, severing the states responsibility for the Fort.

Fort Sumter was involved in two battles, it’s first beginning the Civil War. The first shots on April 12, 1861 from Fort Sumter were fired when the South Carolina Militia artillery fired upon the Union Garrison on shore. Both the Union and the Confederacy agreed that these were the first shots of the Civil War. The day long bombardment was treated as a spectator event by many happy civilians as the watched. The Battle of Fort Sumter lasted only a day as the fort had been cut off from its supply lines and surrendered.

The Second Battle of Fort Sumter was on September 8, 1863 and was a failed attempt by the Union to retake it. The fort was reduced to rubble, but remained in Confederate control until it was evacuated in February 1865.

The same day that President Lincoln was shot there was an “End of the War” Celebration taking place at Fort Sumter where (now) Major General Robert Anderson, the same Major Robert Anderson who was at the fort the day they surrendered in 1861, returned and raised the Union flag he had taken with him as they evacuated. This event is mostly forgotten because it has been shadowed by the Assassination of President Lincoln.

Post war Fort Sumter was restored to a useful military installation by the US Army, repairing damaged walls and partially rebuilding.

Fort Sumter is now a National Monument and part of the Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. The fort itself is only accessible from a 30-minute ferry ride from the Visitors Education Center.

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