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- Fort Sumter
- THE AMERICAS
- Alt Name:
- United States
- American Civil War
- 1800AD - 1899AD
- Fort Pulaski, Fort Clinch,
Fort Pulaski, Averasboro Battlefield ,
about Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter in South Carolina was originally built in the nineteenth century as part of the “Third System” plan to defend the coasts of America following the War of 1812 against the British. In fact, it would go on to become the site of the ignition of the American Civil War.
Build Up to the War
Following the election of Abraham Lincoln as the President of the United States in 1860, southern states began seceding from the Union, declaring a separate Confederate States of America. Whilst there were many reasons for the build up to this north-south conflict, the main issue was Lincoln’s opposition to slavery and in particular to legislation such as the Federal Fugitive Slave Act.
South Carolina declared its secession on 20 December 1860. Despite this, Fort Sumter was originally held by the Union under the command of Major Robert Anderson. Anderson had moved his forces from the nearby Fort Moultrie to the previously sparsely defended Fort Sumter six days after the secession. This was seen as a hostile act by the Confederates.
Tensions mounted over this move, resulting in a siege of Fort Sumter by the Confederates against the Union. Supplies at Fort Sumter began running low and, despite negotiations, an agreement failed to be reached.
The War Begins
On the morning of 12 April 1861, the Confederates fired upon Fort Sumter, signaling the start of the American Civil War. Following 34 hours of bombardment, the Union surrendered Fort Sumter. They would not recapture it for a further four years.
Today, Fort Sumter is open to the public as part of the National Parks network. Visitors can hear a ten minute ranger talk about the site before embarking on a self-guided tour.
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Address: Fort Sumter Visitor Centre, 340 Concord Street, Charleston, SC 29401
Fort Sumter is located on a small island off the coast of South Carolina. To get to the site, take a ferry from the visitor centre (Liberty Square, 340 Concord Street, Charleston, SC 29401), reached via I-26 (Meeting Street exit) and US 17 (from north, Meeting Street exit, from south, Lockwood Blvd/Lockwood Drive exit). Detailed driving direction on NPS site. Alternatively, private boats can also travel to the Fort. There is no access to the fort from Fourt Moultrie or Sullivan’s Island.
Site generally open daily, 10am - 4pm (2 January to 29 February open 11:30am-4pm, 15 March to 20 August and on Labour Day Weekend open 10am-5:30pm and 1 to 24 December open 11:30am-4pm). Visitor centre open 8:30am-5pm. Closed New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Free admission to the site, but there’s a fee for the ferry – see the official NPS site.
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