Today, in honor of the sesquicentennial of Fort Sumter, I thought I'd share some images that I took while in Charleston last week. Being in Charleston a week before the 150th anniversary of the assault on Fort Sumter was a real special treat. I had been to Charleston three times in the past, but I had never had the time to take a trip out to the historic fort. To say the least, standing on that historic ground was quite a moving experience.
To get out to the fort we had to take a boat ride from Liberty Park at the Aquarium thorough the harbor that lasted about 3o minutes. There was some recorded narration available on both the trip to the fort and on the way back, but when we boarded we went to the lower deck, so we only found that out on the way back.
It was a beautiful day for a cruise out to Fort Sumter. It was breezy, but nice and sunny. The view from the water level deck was amazing. The fort is visible over my left shoulder.
Native Kentuckian, Major Robert Anderson, the U.S. commander, moved his force from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter on December 26, 1860. Provisions ran low for the garrison over the next three months as South Carolina refused efforts to resupply the force. After the bombardment began on April 12, Anderson and his men lasted 34 hours until he finally capitulated.
There were no reported casualties in this the first battle of the Civil War, but Pvt. Daniel Hough was killed instantly when a cannon went of prematurely on shot 47 of a planned 100 gun salute during the surrender ceremony. The 100 gun salute was reduced to 50.
On April 14, 1865, Anderson returned to Fort Sumter to re-raise the flag he had lowered 4 years before. President Lincoln was assassinated later that evening back in Washington D.C.
This shot is from inside one of the surviving casemates. Our interpretive ranger explained that construction on Fort Sumter was started in 1829 by importing granite, much of it from New England, and building an island on which the masonry fort was built. Unbelievably, when the fort was bombarded on April 12, 1861, it still was not fully completed. Most of the masonry work was completed by African American slaves and free men of color and the bricks were made on local plantations. During the bombardment over 3,000 shots were fired at the fort!
The interior of Fort Sumter looks much different than it did 150 years ago. Battery Huger, a Spanish American War era installation now dominates much of the grounds, but it is easy to get a feel for what the fort looked like by viewing the surviving walls.
Michele and I on very historic ground.
It was possible to see Morris Island (about a mile away) quite clearly from Fort Sumter. Morris Island is where the famous 54th Massachusetts (African American soldiers) attacked Battery Wagner on July 18, 1863 and is depicted in the motion picture Glory.
Also clearly visible on the ride back to Charleston was Castle Pinckney. Pinckney was built by the U.S. government in 1810 and named in honor of Revolutionary War hero Charles Cotesworth Pinckney. This fort was the first federal installation in Charleston that fell to South Carolina's forces. During the Civil War this fort held Union prisoners taken at First Manassas for a short time.
On our return to the National Park Service Visitor Center at Liberty Park we had the opportunity go through the excellent exhibits that told the story of this American treasure. I highly recommend taking some time to visit Charleston during the Civil War Sesquicentennial and learn more about this opening round of the war.