Fort Sumter started construction in 1829 and was named after the Revolutionary War hero, General Thomas Sumter, and was part of a series of fortifications on the southern U.S. coast to protect the harbors. By the time the Civil War begin in 1861 it was still unfinished.
Fort Sumter was built on a sand bar at the entrance of the Charleston Harbor. In order to have a safe and proper fort on the sand bar, seventy thousand tons of granite was imported from New England to build up the sand bar. The fort was to be a five-sided brick and mortar structure that was between 170 and 190 feet long with five foot thick walls. It stood 50 feet over the low tide mark. The fort was designed to house 650 men with 135 guns in a three tiered gun emplacements. But the fort never saw full capacity. Image Source: Fort Sumter – Engraving published in Harper’s Weekly Jan 26, 1861
At 4:30 a.m. on Friday, April 12, 1861 the Confederate batteries opened fire on Fort Sumter and continued to fire on the fort for thirty four hours. For two hours the fort did not return fire. Their supply of ammunition wasn’t suited for this sort of fight. They did not have fuses for their explosives. So instead they used iron balls against the Rebel batteries. On Saturday, April 13th the fort surrendered and evacuated.
On April 7th, 1863 Fort Sumter was once again under siege when Rear Admiral Samuel Francis Du Pont, commander of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron, led New Ironsides ships on attach of the harbor defenses. This attack was unsuccessful and one of the new Ironsides sank the next day. Over the next month, working at night the Confederates salvaged two eleven-inch Dahlgren guns of the sunken U.S.S. Keokuk and installed one of them in Fort Sumter. Image Source: confederate flag flying over fort sumter — photo from 1861. – Wiki
As soon as the Confederates took command of the fort they worked on completing and strengthening the fort’s defenses.
Image Source: Exterior view of Fort Sumter – Wiki
Image Source: Charleston, South Carolina. View of Fort Sumter from the sand bar – Wiki
Fort Sumter never surrendered, but was eventually abandoned when General William T. Sherman advanced through South Carolina forced the Confederates to evacuate Charleston on February 17th, 1865 and abandon the fort. Union Forces took over Fort Sumter on February 22nd, 1865 with a flag raising ceremony.
Fort Sumter – After the War
The Civil War left Fort Sumter in ruins. But the U.S. Army restored Fort Sumter with a lower height wall. They removed the third tier gun emplacements and restored eleven of the original first-tier gun rooms with 100-pounder Parrott rifles.
In 1948, the United States decommissioned Fort Sumter and turned it over to the National Parks Service.
In 1966, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Fort Sumter National Monument has three sites to visit in Charleston, those include the fort, the visitor education center, and For Moultrie. If you want to visit Fort Sumter you can reach the island by private boat, ferry ride, and some tours will take you out to the site.
For more information about Fort Sumter check out these sites.
- Fort Sumter – Source
- The Battle of Fort Sumter — Source
- Confederate flags return to Fort Sumter in less-visible location — Source
About the Images
The modern images was shot by hand on a moving boat in the harbor with my Sony Nex-3Nand Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS Lens and one by hand from the walls of Fort Moultrie. Although it was bright, it was after 4 pm and the sun was casting crazy shadows on my subject. I then edited the images in Adobe Lightroom. Then I post processed the images with Topaz Labs Clarity to add more texture, remove shadows, boost brightness and contrast.
The images were taken in June 2014 during a trip to Charleston, South Carolina. In the pictures you see five flags flying over Fort Sumter. The flags flown were (1) a 33-star United States flag, (2) a Confederate First National Flag (Stars and Bars), (3) a South Carolina State Flag, (4) a Confederate Second National Flag (Stainless Banner), and (5) a 35-star United States flag. These flags were added in the 1970s but in 2015 all of the confederate flags were removed after the race related shootings in 2015. Those historic flags now fly on the lower parade ground.