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Title: Fort Sumter: Anvil of War
Author: Service, National Park
Language: English
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                              Handbook 127



                              Fort Sumter
                              Anvil of War


                     Fort Sumter National Monument
                             South Carolina

                        Division of Publications
                         National Park Service

                    U.S. Department of the Interior
                         Washington, D.C. 1984


                           _About This book_

Early on the morning of April 12, 1861, a mortar shell fired from Fort
Johnson in Charleston Harbor burst almost directly over Fort Sumter,
inaugurating the tragic American Civil War. Two years later, Fort
Sumter, now in Confederate hands, became the focus of a gallant defense
in which determined Confederate soldiers kept Federal land and naval
forces at bay for 587 days. The “first shot” of 1861 and the Confederate
defense of 1863-65 are the subjects of the following pages. The
narrative is based on an earlier work by Frank Barnes, onetime historian
at Fort Sumter National Monument.

National Park handbooks, compact introductions to the natural and
historical places administered by the National Park Service, are
designed to promote public understanding and enjoyment of the parks.
Each handbook is intended to be informative reading and a useful guide
to park features. More than 100 titles are in print. They are sold at
parks and can be purchased by mail from the Superintendent of Documents,
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.


  _Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication Data_:
  Fort Sumter: anvil of war
  Bibliography: p.
  Supt. of Docs. no.: I 29.9/5:127
  1. Fort Sumter (Charleston, S.C.)—History.
  2. Charleston, (S.C.)—History—Civil War, 1861-1865.
  3. Charleston, (S.C.)—Fortifications, military installations, etc.
  4. Fort Sumter National Monument Charleston, (S.C.)
  I. United States. National Park Service. Division of Publications.
  F279.C48F684 1984 975.7’915 84-600248
  ISBN 0-912627-24-7


  Part 1 The Fort on the Shoal                                          4
  Part 2 The Civil War Years                                           14
      Fort Sumter and the Coming of War, 1861                          17
      The Struggle for Charleston, 1863-65                             33
  Part 3 The Fort Today                                                52
      From Wartime Ruin to National Monument                           54
      What to See at Fort Sumter                                       55
      _Sally Port_                                                   _55_
      _Left-Flank Casemates_                                         _55_
      _Left Face_                                                    _58_
      _Right Face_                                                   _58_
      _Right Gorge Angle_                                            _59_
      _Officers’ Quarters_                                           _59_
      _Enlisted Men’s Barracks_                                      _59_
      _Garrison Monument_                                            _59_
      _Mountain Howitzer_                                            _59_
      Other Points of Interest                                         60
      _Fort Moultrie_                                                _60_
      _James Island_                                                 _62_
      _Castle Pinckney_                                              _62_
      _The Battery_                                                  _62_
      For Further Reading                                              63



                    Part 1    The Fort on the Shoal


    [Illustration: _Fort Sumter on the eve of the Civil War as painted
    by Seth Eastman. For Eastman’s companion view of Sumter at the close
    of the war, see pages 50-51._]

    [Illustration: _Kentucky-born Maj. Robert Anderson had never seen
    Fort Sumter before November 1860, when he was sent to command the
    Federal forts in Charleston Harbor as the secession crisis mounted.
    His honorable defense of Fort Sumter in April 1861 made him a
    national celebrity and linked his name more closely to the place
    than anyone else’s, including those who planned and spent so many
    years building it. The painting shows Anderson inside Fort Moultrie,
    where he was headquartered upon his arrival in Charleston. Fort
    Sumter lies in the distance._]


                         The Fort on the Shoal

  “... the character of the times particularly inculcates the lesson
  that, whether to prevent or repel danger, we ought not to be
  unprepared for it. This consideration will sufficiently recommend to
  Congress a liberal provision for the immediate extension and gradual
  completion of the works of defense, both fixed and floating, on our
  maritime frontier....”
                                   —President James Madison to Congress,
                                                      December 15, 1815.

Anyone visiting Fort Sumter today will find it difficult to believe that
it could ever have ranked among the “most spectacular harbor defense
structures to come out of any era of military architecture.” Wrecked by
the Civil War, its walls reduced to half their original height, the
present fort only slightly resembles the huge fortification that
dominated the entrance to Charleston Harbor in the middle years of the
19th century.

Fort Sumter was one of a series of coastal fortifications built by the
United States after the War of 1812—a war that had shown the gross
inadequacy of American coastal defenses. The fort belonged to what has
come to be known as the Third American System of coastal defense,
embodying “structural durability, a high concentration of armament, and
enormous overall firepower.” This system emerged after Congress set up a
military Board of Engineers for Seacoast Fortifications in answer to
President Madison’s plea.

Under the unofficial direction of Brig. Gen. Simon Bernard, onetime
military engineer to the emperor Napoleon I, the Board began surveying
the entire coastline of the United States in 1817. The South Atlantic
coast, “especially regarded as less important,” was not surveyed until
1821. One fortification report, covering the Gulf coast and the Atlantic
coast between Cape Hatteras and the St. Croix River, had been submitted
to Congress earlier that year, but it was not until the revised form of
the report appeared in 1826 that much thought was given to permanently
occupying the shoal in Charleston Harbor opposite Fort Moultrie. If the
location were feasible, the Board reported, “the fortification of the
harbor may be considered as an easy and simple problem.” With the guns
of the projected fort crossing fire with those of Fort Moultrie, the
city of Charleston would be most effectively protected against attack.


                     Fort Sumter on the Eve of War

  When Federal troops occupied Fort Sumter in late December 1860, they
  found the place “filled with building materials, guns, carriages,
  shot, shell, derricks, timbers, blocks and tackle, and coils of rope
  in great confusion.” The soldiers spent many weeks clearing away
  debris, moving and mounting guns, distributing shot, and bricking up
  embrasures against a threatened Confederate attack. By April 1861 the
  fort looked much as it does below.

  The principal parts of the 1861 fort are identified in the following
  list. Each is keyed by number to the illustration. The cutaway section
  of the illustration shows the arched first- and second-tier casemates
  behind the brick exterior. The second-tier casemates were unfinished
  and no cannon were mounted there.

    [Illustration: Fort Sumter, Aerial view]


  1/Left Face
  2/Left Flank, facing Charleston and Fort Johnson.
  3/Right Face, fronting Fort Moultrie across the main ship channel.
  4/Right Flank, facing the Atlantic Ocean.
  5/Gorge Wall, facing Confederate batteries on Morris Island.
  6/Left Gorge Angle
  7/Right Gorge Angle, where Capt. Abner Doubleday commanded a Federal
          gun crew in one of the lower casemates.
  8/Officers’ Quarters, consisting of several three-story apartments for
          officers and their families. Ordnance storerooms and a
          hospital were also located here.
  9/Enlisted Men’s Barracks, each designed to accommodate two companies.
  10/Stair Tower, providing access to the barbette tier.
  11/Hot Shot Furnace
  12/Second Tier Embrasures
  13/Fort Lantern
  14/Bins containing oyster shells probably used in the fort’s
          construction.
  15/Sand and Brick-bat Traverses, erected by Federal engineers as
          protection against Confederate cannon fire.
  16/Sandbag Traverse, built to protect Federal gunners against
          enfilading fire from Fort Moultrie.
  17/Machicoulis Gallery, a wooden outcropping atop the parapet in which
          soldiers could stand to fire into or drop grenades onto an
          attacking force.
  18/Sally Port
  19/Granite Wharf


Plans for Fort Sumter were drawn up in 1827 and adopted on December 5,
1828. In the course of that winter Lt. Henry Brewerton, Corps of
Engineers, assumed charge of the project and commenced active
operations. But progress was slow, and as late as 1834 the new fort was
no more than a hollow pentagonal rock “mole” two feet above low water
and open at one side to permit supply ships to pass to the interior.
Meanwhile, the fort had been named Sumter in honor of Thomas Sumter,
brigadier general commanding South Carolina militia during the
Revolution.

Operations were suspended late in the autumn of 1834 when ownership of
the site came into question. The previous May, one William Laval, a
resident of Charleston, had secured from the State a rather vague grant
to 870 acres of “land” in Charleston Harbor. In November, acting under
this grant, Laval notified the representative of the U.S. Engineers at
Fort Johnson of his claim to the site of Fort Sumter. In the meantime,
the South Carolina Legislature had become curious about the operations
in Charleston Harbor and began to question “whether the creation of an
Island on a shoal in the Channel, may not injuriously affect the
navigation and commerce of the Harbor.” The following month, the
Committee on Federal Relations reported that it could not “ascertain by
what authority the Government had assumed to erect the works alluded
to.” Acting apparently under the impression that a formal deed of
cession to “land” ordinarily covered with water had not been necessary,
the Federal Government had commenced operations at the mouth of
Charleston Harbor without seeking or receiving State approval to do so.

Laval’s claim was invalidated by the State’s attorney general in 1837,
but the harbor issue remained unresolved. It was November 1841 before
the Federal Government received clear title to the 125 acres of harbor
“land,” although construction of Fort Sumter had resumed the previous
January under the skillful guidance of Capt. A. H. Bowman, who pushed
the work forward.

Bowman changed the original plans in several respects, the most
important involving the composition of the foundation. Instead of a
“grillage of continuous square timbers” upon the rock mass, he proposed
laying several courses of granite blocks because he feared worms would
completely destroy the wood; and palmetto, which might have resisted
such attacks, did not have the compactness of fiber or the necessary
strength to support the weight of the superstructure.

Work was difficult. The granite foundation had to be laid between
periods of high and low tide, and there were times when the water level
permitted no work to be done at all. The excessive heat of the
Charleston summers was a recurrent problem; so was yellow fever. Much of
the building material had to be brought in from the North. The magnitude
of the task is indicated by the quantities involved: about 10,000 tons
of granite (some of it from as far away as the Penobscot River region of
Maine) and well over 60,000 tons of other rock. Bricks, shells, and sand
could be obtained locally, but even here there were problems. Local
brickyard capacities were small and millions of bricks were required.
Similarly, hundreds of thousands of bushels of shells were needed—for
concrete, for the foundation of the first-tier casemate floors, and for
use in the parade fill next to the enrockment. Even the actual delivery
of supplies, however local in origin, was a problem, for then, as now,
the fort was a difficult spot at which to land.

By 1860 Fort Sumter outwardly possessed a commanding and formidable
appearance. Its five-foot-thick pentagonal-shaped brick masonry walls
towered nearly 50 feet above low water and enclosed a parade ground of
roughly one acre. Along four of the walls extended two tiers of arched
gunrooms. Officers’ quarters lined the fifth side—the 316.7-foot gorge.
(This wall was to be armed only along the parapet.) Three-story brick
barracks for the enlisted garrison paralleled the gunrooms on each
flank. The sally port at the center of the gorge opened on a 171-foot
wharf and a 25½-foot-wide stone esplanade that extended the length of
that wall.

    [Illustration: _Brig. Gen. Pierre G. T. Beauregard, one of the
    South’s leading military engineers, commanded the Confederate forces
    at Charleston in April 1861 and again from August 1862 to May 1864.
    Ironically, Beauregard’s favorite teacher at West Point had been
    artillery instructor Robert Anderson, whose refusal to surrender
    Fort Sumter to his former pupil led to the opening shots of the
    Civil War._]

Outward appearances, however, were deceiving. Unruffled decades of peace
had induced glacial slowness and indifference in Washington. The fort
was far from completed and, according to U.S. Army Surgeon Samuel W.
Crawford who came to know the place well, “in no condition for defense.”
Eight-foot-square openings yawned in place of gun embrasures on the
second tier. Of the 135 guns planned for the gunrooms and the open
terre-plein above, only 15 had been mounted. Most of these were 32
pounders; none was heavier. The barracks were unfinished and, where
tenable, occupied by workmen. The officers’ quarters were also
unfinished, and a large number of wooden structures “of the most
temporary character” occupied the parade. These “served as storehouses
for the tools and material of the workmen, while all over the parade lay
sand and rough masonry, and sixty-six guns with their carriages and
5,600 shot and shell.”

By December 1860 time as well as money had run out, and the fort was
about to take on a political significance far beyond the military
function it was originally intended to serve. The long-smoldering
sectional dispute between North and South had become like a powder keg.
And Fort Sumter was the fuse that would ignite it.



                     Part 2    The Civil War Years


    [Illustration: _A Confederate battery at Fort Johnson on James
    Island pounds away at a virtually defenseless Fort Sumter in this
    hand-colored contemporary engraving of the April 1861 bombardment._]

    [Illustration: _The first notice of the adoption of South Carolina’s
    Ordinance of Secession appeared in a special edition of the
    Charleston_ Mercury.]



                               CHARLESTON
                                MERCURY
                                 EXTRA:

    _Passed unanimously at 1.15 o’clock, P. M. December 20th, 1860._

                              AN ORDINANCE

  _To dissolve the Union between the State of South Carolina and other
  States united with her under the compact entitled “The Constitution of
  the United States of America.”_

  _We, the People of the State of South Carolina, in Convention
  assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and
  ordained,_

That the Ordinance adopted by us in Convention, on the twenty-third day
of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and
eighty-eight, whereby the Constitution of the United States of America
was ratified, and also, all Acts and parts of Acts of the General
Assembly of this State, ratifying amendments of the said Constitution,
are hereby repealed; and that the union now subsisting between South
Carolina and other States, under the name of “The United States of
America,” is hereby dissolved.

                                  THE
                                 UNION
                                   IS
                               DISSOLVED!


                Fort Sumter and the Coming of War, 1861

The headline in the Charleston _Mercury_ summed it up aptly. After
decades of sectional conflict, South Carolinians responded to the
election of the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, by voting
unanimously in convention on December 20, 1860, to secede from the
Union. Within six weeks five other States—Mississippi, Florida, Alabama,
Georgia, and Louisiana—followed her example. Early in February 1861 they
met in Montgomery, Alabama, adopted a constitution, set up a provisional
government—the Confederate States of America—and elected Jefferson Davis
of Mississippi as President. By March 2, when Texas joined the
Confederacy, nearly all the forts and naval yards in the seceded States
had been seized by the new power. Fort Sumter was one of the handful
that remained in Federal possession.

When South Carolina left the Union, the only post in Charleston Harbor
garrisoned in strength by United States troops was Fort Moultrie on
Sullivans Island. There, Maj. Robert Anderson commanded two companies of
the First U.S. Artillery—about 85 officers and men. But six days after
the secession ordinance was passed, Anderson, believing Moultrie to be
indefensible, transferred his command to Fort Sumter. Unaware of an
apparent pledge to maintain the harbor _status quo_, given by President
James Buchanan some weeks before, Anderson acted in accordance with
verbal instructions he received December 11 to _hold possession of the
forts in this harbor, and if attacked ... to defend yourself to the last
extremity. The smallness of your force will not permit you, perhaps, to
occupy more than one of the three forts, but an attack on or attempt to
take possession of any of them will be regarded as an act of hostility,
and you may then put your command into either of them which you may deem
most proper to increase its power of resistance. You are also authorized
to take similar steps whenever you have tangible evidence of a design to
proceed to a hostile act._

    [Illustration: _President James Buchanan, who sought to maintain
    peace between the North and South during his final weeks in office.
    His uncharacteristically firm stand against South Carolina over the
    Sumter situation, however, risked the very conflict he sought to
    avoid._]

    [Illustration: _Secretary of War John B. Floyd, onetime governor of
    Virginia and a strong secessionist sympathizer, condemned Anderson’s
    occupation of Fort Sumter and urged President Buchanan not to send
    reinforcements._]

Anderson thought he had “tangible evidence” of hostile intent, both
towards Fort Moultrie—an old fort vulnerable to land attack—and toward
Fort Sumter, then occupied by about 80 engineer workmen. He moved,
Anderson afterwards wrote to Secretary of War John B. Floyd, “to prevent
the effusion of blood” and because he was certain “that if attacked my
men must have been sacrificed, and the command of the harbor lost.” To
Anderson, a Kentuckian married to a Georgian, preservation of peace was
of paramount importance. At the same time, as a veteran soldier of
unquestioned loyalty, he had a duty to perform.

Charlestonians were outraged. Crowds collected in the streets; military
organizations paraded; and “loud and violent were the expressions of
feeling against Major Anderson and his action.” On December 27 South
Carolina volunteers occupied Fort Moultrie and Castle Pinckney, a third
harbor fort, and began erecting defensive batteries elsewhere around the
harbor. South Carolina’s governor, Francis Pickens, regarded Anderson’s
move not only as an “outrageous breach of faith” but an act of
aggression, and demanded, through commissioners sent to Washington, that
the Federal Government evacuate Charleston Harbor. On December 28
President Buchanan, while admitting that the occupation of Sumter was
against his policy, refused to accede to the demand.

The North was exultant. On New Year’s Day, 1861, amid cheers for Major
Anderson, salvos of artillery resounded in northern cities. By an
imposing majority, the House of Representatives voted approval of
Anderson’s “bold and patriotic” act. The only question that remained was
whether the national government would continue to support him.

At Fort Sumter, Anderson’s 85 officers and men (plus the engineer
workmen who remained after the fort was occupied) garrisoned a
fortification intended for as many as 650 and had “about 4 months”
supply of provisions. In January President Buchanan was persuaded to
send off a relief expedition. Initial plans called for sending the sloop
of war _Brooklyn_ for this purpose, but when word arrived that the South
Carolinians had obstructed the harbor entrance by sinking several ships,
it was decided to use the _Star of the West_, an ordinary merchant ship,
which would excite less suspicion and avoid the appearance of coercive
intent. Two hundred men, small arms and ammunition, and several months’
provisions were placed aboard. The men were to remain below deck on
entering Charleston Harbor; the _Brooklyn_ would follow, in case the
_Star of the West_ were fired upon and disabled.

But Charleston had been forewarned, and when the _Star of the West_
appeared at the entrance of the harbor on January 9, 1861, cadets from
the Citadel military college opened fire with several cannons mounted on
Morris Island. The unarmed ship turned back. Anderson had held his fire,
thinking the firing unauthorized. Orders authorizing supporting fire on
his part had failed to reach him in time. For the moment, civil war had
been avoided.

Further relief plans were now shelved, since President Buchanan was
anxious to end his term of office in peace. Yet it was apparent that
eventually the garrison would have to be supplied or the fort abandoned.

On January 10, Acting Secretary of War Joseph Holt (Floyd, a Southern
sympathizer, had resigned over Buchanan’s refusal to evacuate Fort
Sumter) ordered Anderson to act strictly on the defensive. Anderson and
Governor Pickens had already exchanged angry letters over the firing on
the _Star of the West_, and when the major refused the governor’s demand
to surrender the fort (January 11), Pickens sent Isaac W. Haynes, the
State’s attorney general, to Washington to try once again to get the
Federal troops removed. If this failed, Haynes was to offer to buy the
fort from the government. President Buchanan refused to do either. The
stalemate continued.

    [Illustration: _South Carolina’s Governor Francis W. Pickens, who
    tried to persuade President Buchanan to order Anderson and his
    garrison back to Moultrie. “If I withdraw Anderson from Sumter,”
    said the President, “I can travel home to Wheatland by the light of
    my own burning effigies.” Anderson stayed and Pickens fumed._]

Fort Sumter was now preparing for attack. Thirty-eight more guns were
mounted in the first tier of casemates and along the parapet, including
heavier 42-pounders and Columbiads. Five Columbiads were mounted in the
parade as mortars and three howitzers about the sally port (gateway) in
the gorge. By April 12, a total of 60 guns were ready. “Bombproof”
shelters and “splinter-proof” traverses were constructed on the parade
ground and along the parapet. Overhanging galleries were built out from
the parapet at strategic points for dropping shells on an assaulting
force. Special protection was given the sally port. The second tier of
casemates was left unarmed, however, and the 8-foot-square openings in
the outer wall were bricked up. The small size of Anderson’s garrison
did not permit manning them.

    [Illustration: _One of several Columbiads that Anderson had mounted
    as mortars inside Fort Sumter to fire on Morris Island and
    Charleston. None of them, however, were used during the
    bombardment._]

Charleston, too, prepared. Besides continuing routine maintenance at
Castle Pinckney and Fort Moultrie, additional batteries were set up on
Sullivans Island, at Cummings Point on Morris Island, and outside Fort
Johnson. An “ironclad” Columbiad battery, constructed of inclined logs
plated with iron, was also mounted at Cummings Point. Meanwhile,
Governor Pickens continued to allow Anderson to buy fresh meat and
vegetables in town to supplement his garrison “issue” supply.

On March 1, the Confederate States government assumed control of
military operations in and around Charleston Harbor and sent Brig. Gen.
Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard to take command. Like Anderson,
Beauregard (who arrived at Charleston on March 3) was a veteran of the
Mexican War. He was a member of a Louisiana family of distinguished
French lineage. Late captain in the U. S. Army, he had served briefly as
superintendent of the U. S. Military Academy at West Point as recently
as January. Once, years back, he had studied artillery there under Major
Anderson. Now, pupil confronted master.

    [Illustration: _President Abraham Lincoln wanted his inaugural
    address to convey a conciliatory message to the South. Most
    Southerners, however, like Emma Holmes of Charleston, thought it
    “stupid, ambiguous, vulgar and insolent” and “a virtual declaration
    of war.” When Lincoln decided to send supplies to Anderson,
    Confederate efforts to force the evacuation of Sumter took on new
    urgency._]

When Abraham Lincoln assumed office as President of the United States on
March 4, he made it clear in a firm but generally conciliatory inaugural
address that national authority must be upheld against the threat of
disunion. As to the Federal forts and property in the seceded States, he
said: “The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and
possess the property and places belonging to the Government....” (He did
not say “repossess.”) Furthermore, there need be “no bloodshed or
violence” as the result of this policy “unless it be forced upon the
national authority.” The President concluded:

_In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is
the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you.
You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You
have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the Government, while I
shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect, and defend’ it._

The Sumter situation was placed squarely before Lincoln on the day he
assumed office. On the morning of Inaugural Day outgoing Secretary of
War Holt received a dispatch from Major Anderson indicating that the
remainder of the “issue” rations brought over from Fort Moultrie in
December would last only a few more weeks. He might be able to hold out
longer if he was able to maintain his local fresh food supply, but if
that were cut off, the garrison would be in desperate straits. As to
reenforcements, given the state of local Confederate preparations, an
estimated force of 20,000 men would now be needed to return Federal
authority to Charleston Harbor. Given these circumstances, reenforcement
was out of the question. The entire Army of the United States numbered
less than 16,000 men. “Evacuation seems almost inevitable,” wrote
General in Chief Winfield Scott; the majority of Lincoln’s Cabinet
agreed. The President, however, was not yet willing to concede that
point and sent Capt. Gustavus W. Fox, onetime U.S. Navy officer and long
an advocate of a relief expedition, to Charleston to talk directly with
Anderson. In the meantime, reassured by Secretary of State William
Seward and others, the South came to believe that Fort Sumter would be
evacuated.

    [Illustration: _Confederate President Jefferson Davis likewise
    sought to temper the growing sectional dispute, and sent
    commissioners to Washington to try to settle “all questions of
    disagreement between the two governments.” When the commissioners
    informed him that the Lincoln government “declines to recognize our
    official character or the power we represent,” Davis ordered
    Beauregard to demand Sumter’s surrender—“and if this is refused
    proceed ... to reduce it.”_]

On April 4, Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, informed Major
Anderson that an attempt would be made to supply him with provisions
“and, in case the effort is resisted ... to reenforce you.” Convinced
from Captain Fox’s on-the-spot reports that such an expedition was
feasible, and that there was no Union sentiment in South Carolina to
which to appeal, Lincoln had decided on the nearest thing to preserving
the _status quo_. Merchant steamers under cover of ships of war would
carry “subsistence and other supplies” to Anderson; the warships (with
troop reinforcements on board) would be used only if a peaceable landing
were opposed. Fox would command. Meanwhile, in accordance with a pledge
already given, the governor of South Carolina would be carefully
informed in advance.

The announcement of the expedition to supply Fort Sumter was the spark
that set off the explosive forces which had been building up since 1850.
The Confederate capital at Montgomery was informed. Anderson’s supply of
fresh provisions had already been cut off on the 7th; now, his mail was
seized.

Work was pushed on the harbor fortifications. A new battery mounting two
24-pounders and two 32-pounders was unmasked on Sullivans Island;
another ironclad battery was put into position at its western tip.
Originally designed to be “floating,” this battery mounted two heavy
42-pounders in addition to two 32-pounders. Near Mount Pleasant another
(10-inch) mortar battery was installed. At Fort Moultrie, 11 guns now
bore on Fort Sumter, including three 8-inch Columbiads. Additional guns
were mounted to command the harbor channels and to guard against
landings by the Federal fleet. Three thousand more Confederate troops
were called, bringing the number already on the post to 3,700. The
harbor seethed with activity.

“The gage is thrown down,” said the Charleston _Mercury_, “and we accept
the challenge. We will meet the invader, and God and Battle must decide
the issue between the hirelings of Abolition hate and Northern tyranny,
and the people of South Carolina defending their freedom and their
homes.” A small 12-pounder Blakely rifled cannon arrived from England—a
gift of a Charlestonian residing in London. Mounted at Cummings Point,
it proved an ominous forerunner of the powerful rifled guns that two
years later would reduce Fort Sumter to rubble.

After cabinet debate in Montgomery, the Confederate Secretary of War,
Leroy Pope Walker, ordered General Beauregard to demand the evacuation
of the fort, and if that demand was refused, to “reduce it.” On the
afternoon of April 11, three of Beauregard’s aides visited the fort
under a flag of truce and presented the ultimatum. Major Anderson
refused compliance but at the same time said, “Gentlemen, if you do not
batter the fort to pieces about us, we shall be starved out in a few
days.” Still reluctant to initiate conflict, the Montgomery government
telegraphed Beauregard:

_Do not desire needlessly to bombard Fort Sumter. If Major Anderson will
state the time at which ... he will evacuate, and agree that in the
meantime he will not use his guns against us unless ours should be
employed against Fort Sumter, you are authorized thus to avoid the
effusion of blood. If this or its equivalent be refused, reduce the
fort_....

The atmosphere in Charleston was tense. In at least one household,
dinner was the “merriest, maddest ... yet. Men were more audaciously
wise and witty. We had an unspoken foreboding it was to be our last
pleasant meeting.”

    [Illustration: _Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard told Confederate Secretary of
    War Leroy Pope Walker that “if Sumter was properly garrisoned and
    armed, it would be a perfect Gibralter to anything but constant
    shelling, night and day, from the four points of the compass. As it
    is, the weakness of the garrison constitutes our greatest advantage,
    and we must, for the present, turn our attention to preventing it
    from being re-enforced ... but, should we have to open our batteries
    upon it, I hope to be able to do so with all the advantage the
    condition of things here will permit.” The map, taken from_ Harper’s
    Weekly, _shows Fort Sumter and the Confederate batteries erected
    against it in 1861. Beauregard’s view of Sumter as a Gibralter was
    confirmed during the 1863-65 siege of Charleston._]

    _Among the members of Beauregard’s staff who took part in the
    negotiations with Major Anderson prior to the bombardment of Fort
    Sumter were two South Carolinians—Capt. Stephen D. Lee, a
    28-year-old West Point graduate and an officer in the South Carolina
    volunteers, and Col. James Chesnut, 46-year-old former U.S. Senator
    but now a member of the Confederate Congress._

    [Illustration: _Capt. Stephen D. Lee_]

    [Illustration: _Col. James Chesnut_]

Shortly after midnight, four Confederate officers confronted Anderson
again. About three hours later, in a carefully worded reply, the Union
commander agreed to evacuate “by noon on the 15th” unless he should
receive prior to that time “controlling instructions from my Government
or additional supplies.” But it was expected in Charleston that the
Federal supply ships would arrive before the 15th. Anderson’s reply was
rejected by the Confederate officers, who proceeded at once to Fort
Johnson to give the order to open fire.

At 4:30 a.m., a mortar shell from Fort Johnson arched across the sky and
burst almost directly over Fort Sumter. This was the signal for opening
the bombardment. Within a few minutes, a ring of cannons and mortars
about the harbor—43 in all—were firing at Sumter. Major Anderson
withheld fire until about 7 o’clock. Then Capt. Abner Doubleday,
Anderson’s second in command, fired a shot at the ironclad battery on
Cummings Point. Ominously, the light shot “bounded off from the sloping
roof ... without producing any apparent effect.” Not at any time during
the battle did the guns of Fort Sumter do great damage to the
Confederate defenses. Most of Fort Sumter’s heaviest guns were on the
parapet and in the parade. To reduce casualties in the small garrison,
Anderson ordered these left unmanned. For a while, with the help of the
engineer workmen remaining at the fort, nine or ten of the casemate guns
were manned. But by noon, the expenditure of ammunition was so rapid
that the firing was restricted to six guns only. Meanwhile, an
eyewitness later recorded,

_Showers of balls from 10-inch Columbiads and 42 pounders, and shells
from [10-] inch mortars poured into the fort in one incessant stream,
causing great flakes of masonry to fall in all directions. When the
immense mortar shells, after sailing high in the air, came down in a
vertical direction, and buried themselves in the parade ground, their
explosion shook the fort like an earthquake_.

All Charleston watched. Business was entirely suspended. King Street was
deserted. The Battery, the wharves and shipping, and “every steeple and
cupola in the city” were crowded with anxious spectators. And “never
before had such crowds of ladies without attendants” visited the streets
of Charleston. “The women were wild” on the housetops. In the darkness
before dawn there were “Prayers from the women and imprecations from the
men; and then a shell would light up the scene.” As the day advanced,
the city became rife with rumors: “Tonight, they say, the forces are to
attempt to land. The _Harriet Lane_ had her wheel house smashed and put
back to sea.... We hear nothing, can listen to nothing. Boom boom goes
the cannon all the time. The nervous strain is awful....” Volunteers
rushed to join their companies. There was “Stark Means marching under
the piazza at the head of his regiment ...,” his proud mother leaning
over the balcony rail “looking with tearful eyes.” Two members of the
Palmetto Guard paid $50 for a boat to carry them to Morris Island.

The barracks at Fort Sumter caught fire three times that first day, but
each time the fire was extinguished. One gun on the parapet was
dismounted; another was damaged. The wall about one embrasure was
shattered to a depth of 20 inches. That was caused, in part, by the
Blakely rifle, firing with “the accuracy of a duelling pistol.” The
quarters on the gorge were completely riddled. When night came, dark and
stormy, Fort Sumter’s fire ceased entirely. Using the six needles
available, the work of making cartridge bags continued; blankets, old
clothing, extra hospital sheets, and even paper, were used in the
emergency. Meantime, the supply fleet, off the bar since the onset of
hostilities, did no more than maintain its position. It had been
crippled upon departure when Seward’s meddling caused withdrawal of the
powerful warship _Powhatan_. Now, bad weather prevented even a minimum
supporting operation.

    [Illustration: _Ardent Virginia secessionist Edmund Ruffin has long
    been credited by some historians with firing the first shot against
    Fort Sumter. The honor actually belongs to Capt. George S. James,
    commander of the 10-inch mortar batteries on James Island, who
    ordered the signal shell fired from Fort Johnson. Ruffin, however,
    did fire the first shot from the Ironclad Battery on Cummings
    Point._]

    [Illustration: _Capt. (later Gen.) Abner Doubleday, who directed the
    first return shot from Fort Sumter._]

On the morning of the 13th, Sumter opened “early and spitefully,” and,
with the increased supply of cartridges, kept up a brisk fire for a
while. About mid-morning “hotshot” (solid cannonballs heated red hot)
set fire to the officers’ quarters. The Confederate fire then increased;
soon the whole extent of the quarters was in flames, endangering the
powder magazines. The blaze spread to the barracks. By noon the fort was
almost uninhabitable. The men crowded to the embrasures for air or lay
on the ground with handkerchiefs over their mouths. Valiant efforts by
Anderson’s men had saved some of the powder before the onrush of the
flames forced the closing of the magazines, and the fort’s defenders
continued to fire. At every shot, Beauregard later reported, the
Confederate troops, “carried away by their natural generous impulses,
mounted the different batteries, and ... cheered the garrison for its
pluck and gallantry and hooted the fleet lying inactive just outside the
bar.”

    [Illustration: _Charlestonians—men, women, and children—watch from
    the rooftops as Confederate batteries bombard Sumter. Anderson’s
    delay in returning the fire caused many to believe that he did not
    intend to respond at all—a situation which, in Edmund Ruffin’s view,
    “would have cheapened our conquest.”_]

About 1:30 in the afternoon the flag was shot down. Almost accidentally,
this led to surrender. By authority of Gen. James Simons, commanding on
Morris Island, Col. Louis T. Wigfall, a former Texas senator and now one
of Beauregard’s aides detached for duty at that spot, set out by small
boat to ascertain whether Anderson would capitulate. Before he arrived
at the beleaguered fort, the United States flag was again flying, but
Wigfall rowed on. The firing continued from the batteries across the
harbor. Attaching a white handkerchief to the point of his sword,
Wigfall entered the fort through an embrasure on the left flank and
offered the Federal commander any terms he desired, the precise nature
of which would have to be arranged with General Beauregard. Anderson
accepted on the basis of Beauregard’s original terms: evacuation with
his command, taking arms and all private and company property, saluting
the United States flag as it was lowered, and being conveyed, if
desired, to a Northern port. The white flag went up again; the firing
ceased. Wigfall departed confident that Anderson had surrendered
unconditionally. He and his boatman were borne ashore in triumph.

    [Illustration: _Louis T. Wigfall, the Yankee-hating former U.S.
    Senator from Texas, who unofficially negotiated and received
    Anderson’s surrender of Fort Sumter._]

Meanwhile, officers had arrived at the fort from General Beauregard’s
headquarters in Charleston. From these men, dispatched to offer
assistance to the Federal commander, Anderson learned that Wigfall’s
action was unauthorized; that, indeed, the colonel had not seen the
commanding general since the start of the battle. From another party of
officers he learned Beauregard’s exact terms of surrender. They failed
to include the privilege of saluting the flag, though in all other
respects they were the same as those Anderson had believed he had
accepted from Wigfall. Impetuously, Anderson had first declared he would
run up his flag again. Then, restrained by Beauregard’s aides, he waited
while his request for permission to salute the flag was conveyed to the
commanding general. In the course of the afternoon, Beauregard
courteously sent over a fire engine from the city. About 7:30 that
evening, Beauregard’s chief of staff returned with word that Anderson’s
request would be granted and the terms offered on the 11th would be
faithfully adhered to. The engagement was officially at an end. During
the 34-hour bombardment, more than 3,000 shells had been hurled at the
fort.


                         The Fort Sumter Flags

  When Maj. Robert Anderson transferred his small Federal garrison from
  Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter on the night of December 26, 1860, he
  took with him not only needed supplies and equipment but the two flags
  of his command—the 20-by-36-foot garrison flag, which he carried
  himself, and the smaller storm flag used during bad weather. At noon
  on December 27, following a prayer of thanksgiving for their safe
  arrival (shown in the painting), the garrison flag was raised above
  Sumter.

    [Illustration: Prayer of thanksgiving for safe arrival]

    [Illustration: ①]

    [Illustration: ②]

    [Illustration: ③]

  The garrison flag (the remnants of which are shown in photograph no.
  1) continued to mark Anderson’s occupation of the fort until April 11,
  1861, when, having become torn, it was replaced by the 10-foot by
  20-foot storm flag (no. 2) which flew during the subsequent two-day
  bombardment.

  After the fort’s surrender on April 14, Anderson took both flags with
  him to New York City. There, following their display in a massive
  patriotic demonstration in Union Square, they were boxed up and placed
  in storage. The flags remained with the Anderson family until 1905,
  when they were presented to then Secretary of War William Howard Taft.
  The War Department transferred them to the National Park Service in
  1954. They are now part of the collections of Fort Sumter National
  Monument. A third flag in the park’s collection is the 6-foot by
  9-foot flag of the Palmetto Guards (no. 3), which was the first
  Southern banner to be raised over Sumter’s walls after Anderson’s
  evacuation.

On Sunday, April 14, Anderson and his garrison marched out of the fort
with drums beating and colors flying and boarded the steamer _Isabel_ to
join the Federal fleet off the bar. The only fatality of the engagement
occurred just prior to leaving when, on the 47th round of what was to
have been a 100-gun salute to the United States flag, one of the guns
discharged prematurely, exploding a pile of cartridges and causing the
death of Pvt. Daniel Hough. Another man, Pvt. Edward Galloway, was
mortally wounded and died several days later. The 50th round was the
last. Now, as the _Isabel_ carrying Anderson’s command steamed down the
channel, the soldiers at the Confederate battery on Cummings Point lined
the beach, heads uncovered, in silent tribute to Sumter’s defenders.

The following day, April 15, 1861, President Lincoln issued a call for
75,000 militia. Soon the States of Virginia, Arkansas, Tennessee, and
North Carolina joined the Confederacy. Civil war, so long dreaded, had
begun.


                  The Struggle for Charleston, 1863-65

With Fort Sumter in Confederate hands, the port of Charleston became an
irritating loophole in the Federal naval blockade of the Atlantic
coast—doubly so because at Charleston “rebellion first lighted the flame
of civil war.” As late as January 1863, vessels plied to and from
Charleston and the Bahamas “with the certainty and promptness of a
regular line,” bringing needed war supplies in exchange for cotton.

Capture of Port Royal Harbor on November 7, 1861, by a Federal fleet
under Capt. Samuel F. Du Pont, however, had made possible land and sea
operations against Charleston. In June 1862, an attempt was made by
Federal Maj. Gen. David Hunter to push through to the city by James
Island on the south. This ended in Union disaster at the bloody battle
of Secessionville. Meanwhile, the _Monitor-Virginia_ (_Merrimack_)
action in Hampton Roads had demonstrated the feasibility of an
“ironclad” naval expedition against Fort Sumter, the key to the harbor.
Sumter, rebuilt and strengthened, was now a formidable work armed with
some 95 guns and garrisoned with upwards of 500 men. By May 1862, the
Navy Department seemed possessed of what then Rear Admiral Du Pont was
calling a “morbid appetite” to capture Charleston. But the War
Department, far from supplying the additional troops to Hunter’s
command, withdrew units to reenforce Gen. George B. McClellan’s army in
its campaign against Richmond, the Confederate capital.

On April 5, 1863, a fleet of nine Federal ironclads, armed with 32
heavy-caliber guns, appeared off Charleston bar. Seven were of the
single-turret “cheesebox on a raft” _Monitor_-type; one, the _Keokuk_,
was a double-turreted affair; and the last, the flagship _New
Ironsides_, was an ironclad frigate. With ebb tide on the afternoon of
the 7th, the “new-fangled” ironclads steamed single-file up the main
ship channel east of Morris Island. The weather was clear and bright;
the water “as stable as of a river.” By 3 o’clock, the _Weehawken_, the
leading monitor, had come within range, and Fort Moultrie opened fire.
The _Passaic_, second in line, responded. Fort Sumter held fire, its
guns trained on a buoy at the turn of the channel. When the _Weehawken_
came abreast of that point, Sumter’s right flank guns let loose. These
were followed by all the guns on Sullivans Island, at Fort Moultrie, and
at Cummings Point that could be brought to bear.

    [Illustration: _The repulse of the navy’s April 7, 1863, attempt to
    capture Charleston (depicted in a contemporary engraving from_
    Harper’s Weekly_) persuaded Du Pont “that the place cannot be taken
    by a purely naval attack.” The admiral’s pessimism about ironclad
    ships of war and his decision not to renew the attack on Charleston
    angered the Navy Department and led to his removal from command._]

    [Illustration: _Rear Adm. Samuel F. Du Pont, commander of the South
    Atlantic Blockading Squadron._]

It was too much for the slow and unwieldy ironclads. In the course of
the 2½-hour fight, only one came within 900 yards of Fort Sumter. To the
2,209 rounds hurled against them, the ironclads were able to return 154,
only 34 of which found the target. These breached and loosened 25 feet
of the right flank parapet and pocked the walls elsewhere with craters
up to 2½ feet deep. But it was far from enough; Fort Sumter remained
strong and secure. On the other hand, five of the ironclads were
seriously disabled by the accurate Confederate fire, and one, the
_Keokuk_, sank the following morning in the shallow water off Morris
Island. Confederate troops later recovered the guns of the _Keokuk_ and
mounted one of them at Fort Sumter.

The North, confident of victory, was stunned by Du Pont’s failure at a
time when the general military situation was gloomy. The war in the East
had been bloody and indecisive; the news from the West was no better.
Federal authorities now looked to a combined operation to seize Morris
Island and from there demolish Fort Sumter. With Fort Sumter reduced,
the harbor could be entered.

Folly Island and Coles Island, next south of Morris Island, had been
occupied by Northern troops just prior to the naval attack. In June and
July, the north end of Folly Island was fortified. In a remarkable
operation, 47 guns and mortars were secretly emplaced “within speaking
distance of the enemy’s pickets.” Some 11,000 men were concentrated on
the island. Brig. Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore, the “breacher” of Fort
Pulaski, took command on June 12. Rear Adm. John A. Dahlgren superseded
Admiral Du Pont on July 6.

During that time the Confederates mounted guns at the south end of
Morris Island and strengthened the earthworks at its upper end—Battery
Gregg at Cummings Point and Battery Wagner some 1,400 yards to the
south. The latter work, commanding the island at its narrowest point,
was made into a formidable “sand fort” mounting about 15 guns.

    [Illustration: _Maj. Gen. Quincy A. Gillmore, commander of the
    Federal land forces besieging Charleston, 1863-64. In the year that
    he spent at Charleston, Gillmore and Du Pont’s replacement, Rear
    Adm. John A. Dahlgren, conducted a cooperative and sustained
    operation that resulted in the capture of Morris Island and Battery
    Wagner and the virtual demolition of Fort Sumter._]

    [Illustration: _Rear Adm. John A. Dahlgren_]

Fort Sumter, 1,390 yards distant from Battery Gregg, prepared for siege,
too. Brick and stone masonry “counter-forts,” already built at each
extremity of the esplanade as protection for the magazines, were now
strengthened, and much of the remaining gorge exterior was sandbagged or
otherwise protected. The casemates on the right or sea front flank were
filled with sand, and the rooms on the gorge were filled with damp
cotton bales laid in sand. The upper-tier magazines were abandoned and
filled with sandbags to protect the magazines below. Protective
revetments and other defensive devices were introduced at various points
throughout the fort. Frequently during this period the garrison was host
to officers on leave, citizens of Charleston, and even many ladies, who
came to see the scars of the April battle, to admire the drill, or to
observe the preparations. At the end of June 1863, Fort Sumter was
garrisoned by five companies (perhaps 500 men) of the First South
Carolina Artillery, under command of Col. Alfred Rhett. Its armament had
been reduced to 68 guns and mortars, many of the best pieces having been
removed to strengthen other fortifications about the harbor.

On the morning of July 10, 3,000 Union infantry, supported by four
monitors and the artillery on Folly Island, descended on the southern
end of Morris Island. Directing the attack was Brig. Gen. Truman
Seymour, a company commander at Fort Sumter two years before. Within
four hours, most of the Island was in his hands. The Confederate forces,
outgunned and outmanned, fell back to Battery Wagner. Sumter’s guns
helped to cover their retreat.

A “desperate” assault upon Wagner the next morning failed, though the
parapet was briefly gained. General Gillmore established
counter-batteries and tried again on the 18th. From noon until nightfall
that day, “without cessation or intermission,” Federal guns poured a
“storm of shot and shell upon Fort Wagner ... perhaps unequalled in
history.” This was followed by an attack by some 6,000 troops,
spearheaded by the 54th Massachusetts, the first U.S. black regiment to
go to war. In a short, savage struggle, Seymour’s force suffered 1,500
casualties. Though one angle of the fort was gained and held for a time,
the attack was repulsed.

    [Illustration: _Part of Gillmore’s map of the Charleston defenses._]

    [Illustration: _Col. Alfred Rhett commanded Fort Sumter during the
    April 1863 ironclad attack and the first great bombardment of
    August-September._]

    [Illustration: _Brig. Gen. Truman Seymour, who served at Fort Sumter
    under Anderson in 1860-61, commanded the assault troops that
    captured Morris Island in July 1863. He was severely wounded in the
    subsequent attack on Battery Wagner._]

Thwarted in his plan to secure easy possession of Morris Island as a
base for breaching operations against Fort Sumter, Gillmore now
determined to batter the fort into submission from the ground he already
possessed. Batteries Wagner and Gregg would be taken by protracted siege
operations. Anticipating that Sumter was “liable to be silenced sooner
or later” and fearing attack at other points about the harbor,
Confederate authorities continued to remove the fort’s guns and
ammunition for use elsewhere. By mid-August, Sumter’s armament was
reduced to 38 cannon and two mortars.

At distances of 2 to 2½ miles from Fort Sumter—distances extraordinary
for such operations—Gillmore set up eight batteries of heavy rifled
cannon. In the marsh west of Morris Island, where the mud was like
liquid, his engineers successfully placed a 200-pounder Parrott
rifle—the notorious “Swamp Angel”—to fire on Charleston.

Gillmore’s batteries did some experimental firing in late July and early
August, testing the range and the effects of their shots on Sumter. The
real bombardment began on August 17, with nearly 1,000 shells being
fired that first day alone. Almost 5,000 more were fired during the week
that followed. Even at the end of the first day it was obvious that the
fort was never intended to withstand the heavy Parrotts. Three days
later, a monstrous 13-ton Parrott rifle hurling 250-pound shells was
added to Gillmore’s armament, making 18 rifled cannon in action. The
range kept Sumter from replying to the land batteries, and the monitors
appeared only fleetingly.

On the 21st, with the “Swamp Angel” in position, Gillmore demanded the
evacuation of Fort Sumter and Morris Island. Otherwise he would fire on
Charleston. The ultimatum was unsigned, however, and before the
Confederates could confirm its origin, Gillmore had opened fire. But
little damage had been done when, on the 36th round, the “Swamp Angel”
burst. Meanwhile, Beauregard had delivered an indignant reply. The
bombardment of Sumter continued.

Early on the 23d, against Dahlgren’s ironclads, Fort Sumter fired what
proved to be its last shots in action. Its brick masonry walls were
shattered and undermined; a breach 8 by 10 feet yawned in the upper
casemates of the left face; at points, the sloped debris of the walls
already provided a practicable route for assault. Still, the Confederate
garrison, supplemented by a force of 200 to 400 blacks, labored night
and day, strengthening and repairing the defenses. The debris,
accumulating above the sand- and cotton-filled rooms, itself bolstered
the crumbling walls. By the 24th, Gillmore was able to report the
“practical demolition” of the fort. On the 26th General Beauregard
ordered the fort held “to the last extremity.”

The bombardment continued sporadically during the following week. On the
night of September 1-2, the ironclads moved against the fort—the first
major naval operation against Fort Sumter since the preceding April. For
five hours, the frigate _New Ironsides_ and five monitors bombarded the
fort, now without a gun with which to answer the “sneaking sea-devils.”
Two hundred and forty-five shot and shell were hurled against the
ruins—twice as many as were thrown in the April attack. The tidal
conditions, plus a “rapid and sustained” fire from Fort Moultrie, forced
the monitors to withdraw.

Some desultory firing on the 2d brought to an end the first sustained
bombardment of Fort Sumter. More than 7,300 rounds had been hurled
against the fort since August 17. Now, with the fort reduced to a
“shapeless and harmless mass of ruins,” the Federals could concentrate
on Battery Wagner, only 100 yards from Gillmore’s forward trenches.

On the morning of September 5, Federal cannoneers began a devastating
barrage against Battery Wagner. For 42 hours, night and day, in what
General Gillmore called a spectacle “of surpassing sublimity and
grandeur,” 17 mortars and nine rifled cannon, as well as the powerful
guns of the ironclads, pounded the earthwork. Calcium lights turned
night into day. On the night of September 6-7, the Confederates
evacuated Wagner and Gregg. Morris Island was at last in Union hands.

Fort Sumter, however, remained defiant. When Dahlgren demanded the
fort’s surrender, on the morning of the 7th, General Beauregard sent
word that the admiral could have it when he could “take it and hold it.”
On September 4 the garrison had been relieved by fresh troops, 320
strong. Maj. Stephen Elliott succeeded to the command.


                      The Fight for Battery Wagner

    [Illustration: Battery Wagner]

  On July 10, 1863, Union forces successfully invaded Morris Island, a
  narrow stretch of land which formed the southern entrance to
  Charleston Harbor. The Confederate defenders were pushed back nearly 3
  miles to a strong fortification known as Battery Wagner, whose heavy
  guns commanded nearly the entire length of the island. Gen. Quincy A.
  Gillmore knew that this fort would have to be taken if Morris Island
  was to serve as a base of operations against Charleston.

  Accordingly, at dusk on July 18th, three Union brigades numbering
  about 6,000 men commanded by Gen. Truman Seymour assembled for an
  assault on Battery Wagner. Assigned to lead the column was Col. Robert
  Gould Shaw’s 54th Massachusetts Infantry, composed of 600 free-black
  men recruited from various Northern States. “We shall take the fort or
  die there!” shouted Colonel Shaw as Seymour ordered the troops
  forward.

    [Illustration: _Col. Robert Gould Shaw_]

  Wagner’s artillery opened fire when the Federals were within 200 yards
  of the battery. Then the fort’s defenders, North and South Carolina
  troops, let fly a volley of musketry that tore huge gaps in the Union
  ranks. Those who survived this terrible fire, having reached the ditch
  in front of the fort, sloshed through 3 feet of water and scrambled up
  the walls of the parapet bravely waving both the national flag and the
  Massachusetts State colors. Shaw himself gained the rampart and
  shouted, “Forward, Fifty-fourth!”, then fell dead with a bullet in his
  heart.

  Now other Federal regiments joined in the attack, but after several
  hours of desperate fighting, including hand-to-hand combat on Wagner’s
  parapet, the Federals were driven back. Bodies lay piled three deep in
  front of the fort and 9 of the 10 Union regimental commanders were
  killed or wounded. The 54th Massachusetts alone lost nearly 40 percent
  of the men engaged.

  Battery Wagner finally came into Union hands on September 6, 1863,
  after the Confederates were ordered to evacuate Morris Island
  entirely. Contrary to Northern expectations, Fort Sumter and the city
  of Charleston did not fall into Federal possession until February
  1865.

    [Illustration: _Maj. Stephen Elliott, one-time captain of the
    Beaufort (Light) Artillery, assumed command of the Fort Sumter ruins
    in September 1863 at the personal request of General Beauregard.
    Elliott remained in charge until May 1864, when he was transferred
    to command a regiment in Virginia_.]

Dahlgren “immediately designed to put into operation a plan to capture
Fort Sumter.” Accordingly the monitor _Weehawken_ was ordered “to cut
off all communication” via Cummings Point, while _New Ironsides_ and the
remaining ironclads moved up “to feel, and if possible, pass” the
obstructions thought to be in the channel north of the fort. But
_Weehawken_ grounded, and the monitors caught such a severe fire from
Fort Moultrie and the other Confederate batteries on Sullivans Island,
that the admiral “deemed it best to give [his] entire attention to the
_Weehawken_” and withdraw. Whatever his original plan, Dahlgren now
decided upon a small-boat assault. The task seemed simple: with “nothing
but a corporal’s guard in the fort,” all he had to do was “go and take
possession.”

On the night of September 8-9, 400 sailors and marines made the attempt.
A tug towed the small boats within 800 yards of the fort, then cast them
loose. In the darkness and confusion, plans went awry and two columns
advanced simultaneously upon the right flank of the fort. The
Confederates coolly held their fire till the Federals in the lead boats
began to land, then let loose with musketry, hand grenades, “fire
balls,” grape and canister, brickbats, and masonry fragments. At a
signal from the fort, the Confederate gunboat _Chicora_ steamed out from
the harbor and opened fire; Fort Moultrie “fired like a devil.”

From the outer boats, the marines replied rapidly for a few minutes.
Some of the sailors ashore fired a few shots from their revolvers, but
most sought refuge in the embrasures or breaches in the wall. It was all
over in 20 minutes. Most of the boats did not even touch shore. The
Federal loss was 124 killed, wounded, and captured, and five boats were
taken. A similar expedition from Gillmore’s command was detained by low
tide in a creek west of Morris Island. Service rivalry had prevented
active cooperation that might have resulted in victory.

Except for a six-day bombardment of “minor” proportions late in
September, Fort Sumter was free of attack for almost two months. Damages
sustained by the monitors in the Morris Island operation, as much as
Fort Moultrie’s increased firepower and the fear of channel obstructions
(a menace which later proved to be greatly exaggerated), made Admiral
Dahlgren reluctant to make another move at this time. General Gillmore,
engaged now in rebuilding and rearming the captured Confederate
batteries on Cummings Point, thought he had accomplished his part of the
operation. In his opinion, Fort Sumter was effectively reduced; its
actual seizure and occupation would be costly and unnecessary; besides,
the reinforcements needed for such an undertaking were not available
anyway. Indeed, with the Confederate surrender of Vicksburg and the
defeat of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s army at Gettysburg, Charleston had
suddenly become much less important. Gillmore contemplated no further
offensive operations by his forces.

On October 26, having learned that the Confederates were remounting some
of Sumter’s guns, Gillmore resumed the bombardment. For the next 12
days, the concentration of fire was comparable to the great bombardment
of the preceding August. But now, with the new batteries on Cummings
Point in operation and the range shortened to less than a mile, the
effect was far greater. For the first time, 16 heavy mortars were in
use—two of them 8½-ton pieces (13-inch bore) throwing 200-pound
projectiles. Their sharp, plunging fire was added to that of 12 Parrott
rifles—the types already used so effectively against the fort—and one
powerful Columbiad. In addition, two monitors, with guns “equal to a
dozen” Parrotts, crossed fire with Gillmore’s artillery.

Sumter’s sea front (right flank), upright and relatively unscathed till
now, was breached for nearly half its length. The ramparts and arches of
its upper casemates were cut down and the interior barracks demolished.
The accumulated debris made ascent easy inside and out. Through the
breach, the Federal guns took the channel fronts in reverse. Exposed to
direct fire for the first time, they were soon cut and jagged. Still,
the gorge ruin remained much the same; to Admiral Dahlgren, that “heap
of rubbish” looked invincible.

Night and day throughout November and into December, Gillmore’s
batteries, assisted occasionally by the monitors, maintained a slow fire
against the fort. Sumter could respond with merely “harmless musketry,”
but its defenders seemed “snug in the ruins.” And if Sumter was without
cannons, Confederate batteries on James and Sullivans Islands kept up an
irritating counterfire.


                           Sumter Under Fire

    [Illustration: Fort Sumter, from the northern tip of Morris Island]

  By August 23, 1863, when the photograph was taken, General Gillmore’s
  siege guns had been firing at Fort Sumter continuously for a week in
  what came to be known as the “First Great Bombardment.” By then,
  according to Gen. J. W. Turner, Gillmore’s chief of artillery, “The
  demolition of the fort ... was complete so far as its offensive powers
  were considered. Every gun upon the parapet was either dismounted or
  seriously damaged. The parapet could be seen in many places both on
  the sea and channel faces to be completely torn away from the
  _terre-plein_. The place, in fine, was a ruin, and effectually
  disabled for any immediate defense of the harbor of Charleston.”

  General Turner’s assessment of Fort Sumter’s “demolition” proved
  premature. Thanks to the efforts of its garrison over the next several
  months, the fort was transformed, according to chief engineer Maj.
  John Johnson, from “a shapeless pile of shattered walls and casemates,
  showing here and there the guns disabled and half buried in splintered
  wrecks of carriages, its mounds of rubbish fairly reeking with the
  smoke and smell of powder, ... into a powerful earthwork, impregnable
  to assault, and even supporting the other works at the entrance of
  Charleston harbor with six guns of the heaviest caliber.”

    [Illustration: The damage caused to the fort’s interior during
    Gillmore’s “First Great Bombardment” is evident in the remarkable
    “action” photograph, taken by Charleston photographer George S. Cook
    on September 8, 1863, just as a shell from the Federal ironclad
    _Weehawken_ burst on the rubble-strewn parade ground during Admiral
    Dahlgren’s naval assault on the harbor batteries.]

    [Illustration: _Maj. John A. Johnson, commanding engineer at Fort
    Sumter during the 1863-65 Confederate occupation._]

On November 6, the Confederate engineer at Fort Sumter, Maj. John
Johnson, reported that while the height of the mass of the fort was
“diminishing visibly on the sides away from the city, when it gets down
to the lower casemates it will have become so thick from accumulated
debris as to resist further battering.” Two weeks later, he found the
fort stronger than ever, with casualties surprisingly low—only two men
were killed in the August bombardment and only 22 more since the start
of the present one; 118 had been wounded. Johnson was not fearful of
being driven out by the big Federal guns, but rather “exposure to
assault from barges at night.”

In mid-November such an attack seemed to be forthcoming. During the
early hours of the 18th, the defenders of the fort had four distinct
alarms as small boats approached within hailing distance; “all hands out
each time and expecting a fight.” On the following night, a force
estimated at 250 men approached within 300 yards of the fort, only to be
driven off by the muskets of the aroused garrison. This was not,
however, a real attack but only a reconnaissance ordered by Gillmore
“with a view to compel the garrison to show its strength.” Having done
that, he would now wait for the Navy to make the next move.

But Admiral Dahlgren could not move until the repairs on the monitors
were finished, and as late as January 1864 these still were not
completed. Even so, confronted with reports of greatly strengthened
harbor fortifications and a growing concern over the exact nature of the
harbor obstructions, he was reluctant to move without additional
monitors. Defeat was always possible, and defeat for the Union’s only
ironclad squadron might have serious consequences—not only for the
blockade and Gillmore’s command on Morris Island, but for operations
elsewhere along the coast. Nevertheless, substantial advantages had
already been gained: the blockade at Charleston was tighter with Morris
Island in Federal hands. To all this, the Navy Department agreed.
Elsewhere, while Dahlgren and Gillmore marked time, the war gathered
momentum. In November 1863, the North won decisively at Chattanooga.

The additional monitors, always promised, never seemed to arrive. On
December 5, General Gillmore stopped the bombardment of Fort Sumter
begun 41 days earlier. There seemed no great advantage in continuing,
and it required considerable ammunition. He had made his last sustained
effort against the fort. On only four other days in December did he fire
any rounds at all. During the four months he remained in command, the
firing was intermittent, never more than “minor” in character.
Meanwhile, Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s forthcoming operations in Virginia
required all available troops. On May 1, 1864, Gillmore departed for
Fort Monroe with 18,000 picked men and quantities of valuable matériel.

Dahlgren’s much-needed monitors never did arrive (Grant needed those,
too) and, with the monitor force he did have reduced to six by the
foundering of the _Weehawken_ in December, further offensive operations
against Charleston seemed completely out of the question. In June, the
ironclad frigate _New Ironsides_ was withdrawn to the north.

In the preceding December, Fort Sumter had been an almost chaotic ruin.
But with the fort practically left alone during the months immediately
following, the garrison gradually restored order from chaos. The parade
ground, excavated well below high-water level to provide sand-filling,
was cleared, drained, and partially rebuilt. Trim ranks of gabions
(wicker baskets filled with sand) bolstered the sloping debris of the
walls on the interior. The three-gun battery in the lower right face was
lined with logs and planks, 10 feet deep, and revetted more thoroughly
in the rear. In casemates on the left flank another three-gun battery
was created. Through the disordered debris of the left and right faces,
the garrison tunneled a 275-foot timbered gallery connecting the two
batteries and fort headquarters in the left flank. And in from the
rubble of the sea front, the garrison built a loopholed timber
blockhouse to cover the parade ground in the event of further assault.
In May, Capt. John C. Mitchel, son of the Irish patriot, relieved Lt.
Col. Stephen Elliott in command.

The onset of summer, 1864, brought one more attempt to take Fort Sumter;
likewise another officer of the original Fort Sumter garrison came into
the operation. Maj. Gen. John G. Foster, engineer of the fort in April
1861, had succeeded to Gillmore’s command on May 26 and was convinced
that “with proper arrangements” the fort could easily be taken “at any
time.” The proper arrangements included special light-draught steamers
and 1,000-man “assaulting arks” equipped with 51-foot scaling ladders
and elevated towers for sharpshooters. Though initial War Department
reaction was cool, Foster went ahead with a preliminary operation to
complete the demolition of the fort. “Yankee ingenuity” might succeed
where routine operations had failed or been judged too costly.

    _The last two commanders of Fort Sumter:_

    [Illustration: _Capt. John C. Mitchel, who was killed in July 1864
    during the third great bombardment after commanding only two months
    and 16 days._]

    [Illustration: _Capt. Thomas A. Huguenin, who remained in charge
    until Charleston and Fort Sumter were evacuated in February 1865._]

On July 7, 1864, Foster’s batteries opened a sustained bombardment
against the ruin of Fort Sumter. During the remainder of that month, an
average of 350 rounds daily were hurled at the beleaguered fort. In some
respects, this was the heaviest bombardment Fort Sumter had yet
received. Although the gorge ruin was wasted away at one point to within
20 feet of the water, and the shattered sea front was still further
reduced, the right face remained erect, its three-gun battery intact;
likewise most of the left flank. To Admiral Dahlgren, as late as July
21, the work seemed “nearly impregnable.” Debris added to debris,
feverish work day and night, and thousands of bags of sand brought from
the city by night actually made the fort stronger than ever. If a
casemate were breached, it was speedily filled; if the slopes of the
ruin invited assault, a bristling array of wooden pikes and barbed-wire
entanglements were provided; and there were always the muskets of the
300-man garrison.

The fire slackened in August; Foster’s supply of ammunition dwindled,
and his requisitions for more went unfulfilled. A scheme for “shaking
down” the fort walls by floating down large “powder rafts” failed
miserably. Mid-August brought final War Department refusal to supply
light-draft steamers; the end of August, sharp disapproval of Foster’s
“assaulting arks.” Meanwhile, Dahlgren had been unwilling to cooperate
in an alternate plan of assault and Foster himself was ordered to remain
strictly on the defensive. He was also called upon to ship north most of
his remaining ammunition and four more regiments of troops to be used in
Grant’s operations against Richmond.

On September 4, the bombardment begun on July 7 came to an end. In those
61 days, another 14,666 rounds had been hurled against the fort. Sixteen
of the garrison had been killed, 65 wounded. On July 20 Captain Mitchel
fell mortally wounded. Capt. Thomas A. Huguenin succeeded him that
night.

    [Illustration: _Maj. Gen. John G. Foster, who replaced Gillmore as
    commander of land operations at Charleston. Foster had been
    Anderson’s engineer officer at Fort Sumter during the 1861
    bombardment._]

The last great bombardment of Fort Sumter had taken place. The firing
was no more than desultory after September 1864; less than a hundred
rounds were hurled at the fort in the months of December and January;
none at all in February. During the autumn months it was all Foster’s
batteries could do to make a reasonable defense of Morris Island, let
alone carry on any offensive operations.

In February 1865 the long stalemate came to an end as Gen. William T.
Sherman marched north from Savannah through the interior of South
Carolina, slicing between the remnants of Gen. John B. Hood’s
Confederate army on the west and the small Confederate force remaining
along the coast. On the 17th, with Sherman in Columbia, Fort Sumter and
the other Confederate fortifications in Charleston harbor were quietly
evacuated. At 9 o’clock on the morning of the 18th, the United States
flag was once more raised over Fort Sumter. The fortunes of war had
accomplished what 3,500 tons of metal, a fleet of ironclads, and
thousands of men had failed to do.


                         The 1865 Flag Raising

    [Illustration: Fort Sumter: painting by Seth Eastman]

  On April 14, 1865, Robert Anderson, now a retired brigadier general,
  returned to Fort Sumter to raise again the flag he had pulled down
  four years before. If he was surprised at the shattered appearance of
  the fort (shown  in Seth Eastman’s companion painting to the one
  reproduced on pages 4-5), he said nothing, speaking only of the “act
  of duty” he had come there to perform. “I thank God that I have lived
  to see this day,” he told the throng of spectators and distinguished
  guests. Then, amid loud applause, he hoisted “to its proper place this
  flag which floated here during peace, before the first act of this
  cruel Rebellion.”

  As the flag rose to the top of the staff and was caught by the breeze
  from the ocean, “there was one tumultuous shout.” The guns of the
  harbor then thundered in salute. “We raise our fathers’ banner, that
  it may bring back better blessings than those of old,” Henry Ward
  Beecher told the crowd, “that it may cast out the devil of discord;
  that it may restore lawful government and a prosperity purer and more
  enduring than that which it protected before; that it may win parted
  friends from their alienation; that it may inspire hope and inaugurate
  universal liberty; ... that it may heal all jealousies, unite all
  policies, inspire a new national life, compact our strength, purify
  our principles, ennoble our national ambitions, and make this people
  great and strong ... for the peace of the world.”

    [Illustration: The flag raising]

That night, there were fireworks and a full-dress dinner at the
Charleston Hotel hosted by General Gillmore. Speeches and toasts
followed one another in quick succession. One of the most moderate and,
as events proved, ironic toasts, was given by General Anderson. “I beg
you, now,” he began, “that you will join me in drinking the health of
... the man who, when elected President of the United States, was
compelled to reach the seat of government without an escort, but a man
who now could travel all over our country with millions of hands and
hearts to sustain him. I give you the good, the great, the honest man,
Abraham Lincoln.” Less than an hour later, Abraham Lincoln lay dying on
the floor of a Washington theater, an assassin’s bullet in his brain.



                        Part 3    The Fort Today


    [Illustration: Fort Sumter Today]


                 From Wartime Ruin to National Monument

The task of clearing the rubble and ruin of war from the interior of
Fort Sumter began in the 1870s. In the forefront of the project was
Quincy A. Gillmore, whose Union gunners were responsible for most of the
destruction in the first place. The outer walls of the gorge and right
flank, largely demolished by the shellfire, were partially rebuilt. The
other walls of the fort, left jagged and torn 30 to 40 feet above the
water, were leveled to approximately half their original height. Through
a left flank casemate, where a barracks once stood, a new sally port was
constructed. Within the fort itself, earth and concrete supports for 10
rifled and smoothbore guns mounted _en barbette_ (guns placed on an open
parapet) began to take shape.

Construction was well advanced by June 1876, when a shortage of funds
forced suspension of activity. By that time, only three permanent
barbette platforms had been built; the other seven remained temporary
(wooden) platforms upon which were mounted four 8-inch Parrott rifles
and two 15-inch Rodman smoothbores. In a modification of the original
plan, 11 lower-tier gunrooms of the original fort along the right face
and about the salient had been repaired and armed with 6.4-inch
Parrotts. These 17 guns, in a gradually deteriorating state, constituted
Fort Sumter’s armament for the next 23 years.

From 1876 to 1898, the fort stood largely neglected, important mainly as
a lighthouse station. Most of that time it was also ungarrisoned and in
the charge of a “fortkeeper” or an ordnance sergeant. Lacking
maintenance funds, Sumter, even then visited by thousands each year,
fell into a state of dilapidation. By 1887 the wooden barbette platforms
had rotted away so that “not one gun could be safely fired”; the neat
earth slopes had eroded into “irregular mounds”; and quantities of sand
had drifted onto the parade ground. At casemate level, salt water dashed
freely through the open embrasures, the shutters of which were no longer
in working order, and the guns rusted so badly that they could not be
moved on their tracks.

By the end of the century, the major world powers were building massive
steel navies, and the United States responded by modernizing its coastal
defenses. In 1899 two 12-inch breech-loading rifled guns were installed
at Fort Sumter, their position further strengthened by earth fill
extending to the top of the old walls. The massive concrete emplacement
for this battery (named for South Carolinian Isaac Huger, a major
general in the American Revolution) dominates the central portion of the
fort today. The guns, long since outmoded, were removed for scrap in
1943. During late World War II, Fort Sumter was armed with four 90-mm
guns manned by a company of Coast Artillery. The fort, transferred from
the War Department to the National Park Service, became a national
monument on July 12, 1948.

The following guide highlights the main historical portions of Fort
Sumter today. There is no set sequence by which to see the fort, but you
may want to refer to the photograph on pages 56-57 for orientation.
Hours of operation and tour boat schedules can be ascertained by calling
(843) 883-3123.


                       What to See at Fort Sumter


                               Sally Port

This present-day entrance to Fort Sumter, runs through the center of the
fort’s left flank wall. It was built after the Civil War and replaced a
gun embrasure. A marker on the left flank near the sally port honors
Sumter’s Confederate defenders. The original sally port entered through
the gorge at the head of a 171-foot stone wharf which once jutted out
from the center of the esplanade. The esplanade, a 25½-foot-wide
promenade and landing space, extended the full length of the gorge
exterior at its base.

    [Illustration: Sally port]


                          Left-Flank Casemates

The first tier of casemates (gunrooms) was surmounted by a second tier
identical in appearance. At the time of the April 12, 1861, bombardment
these casemates contained several 32-pounders, most of which bore on
Fort Johnson. Above the second-tier casemates, guns were mounted _en
barbette_ on an open terre-plein. This arrangement was also used on the
fort’s right flank and on its right and left faces. Each casemate
contained one gun, which could be moved on a track in order to adjust
the angle of fire through the embrasure. Fort Sumter was designed for an
armament of 135 guns and a garrison of 650 men. There are now two guns
mounted on the casemate carriages in the left flank. The one on the left
of the sally port is a rifled and banded 42-pounder; the one on the
right is a 42-pounder smoothbore. Shielded (by the mass of the gorge)
from Federal guns on Morris Island, the left-flank casemates were used
as a Confederate headquarters and hospital. The lower half of the outer
wall retained its full height until the end of the siege, but was
leveled to approximately half this during the 1870s.

    [Illustration: Casemates]

    [Illustration: Cannon in casemate]


                           Fort Sumter Today

    [Illustration: Fort Sumter Today]

  As is clear by comparing the painting on pages 8-9 with the
  photograph, Fort Sumter today bears only a superficial resemblance to
  its original appearance. The multi-tiered work of 1861 was reduced
  largely to rubble during the Civil War, and Battery Huger, built
  across the parade ground at the time of the Spanish-American War,
  dominates the site.

  The following labels identify the main features of the present fort.
  Each is keyed by number to the photograph.


  1/Left Face Casemate Ruins
  2/Left Flank Casemates
  3/Right Face
  4/Right Flank
  5/Right Gorge Angle
  6/Sally Port
  7/Parade Ground
  8/Union Garrison Monument
  9/Powder Magazine
  10/Officers’ Quarters Ruins
  11/Enlisted Men’s Barracks Ruins
  12/Esplanade
  13/Granite Wharf Remains
  14/12-Pounder Mountain Howitzer
  15/Battery Huger
  16/Museum


                               Left Face

During the 1863-65 siege of Charleston, reverse fire from Union gunners
on Morris Island crossed the parade and struck the interior of the left
face, destroying the arched brick casemates. Holes caused by these
shots, as well as several projectiles themselves, are still visible in
the wall. Outside the casemate ruins are two 15-inch smoothbore Rodman
guns, an 8-inch Columbiad, and a 10-inch mortar.

    [Illustration: Left face]


                               Right Face

Guns mounted on the lower tier of this face dueled with Fort Moultrie in
the initial Confederate attack of 1861. Since the angle of the face
allowed it to escape the destructive fire from Federal batteries on
Morris Island, its outer wall still stood almost at full height in
February 1865. After the destructive bombardments of August 1863, the
Confederate garrison mounted three guns in the first-tier casemates just
above the right shoulder angle. Referred to as the “Palmetto Battery,”
because of the protective log cover raised on the exterior, this
three-gun position was the sole offensive armament of the fort for
several months. All the lower-tier casemates were reclaimed in the 1870s
and armed with 100-pounder Parrott rifled cannon. These guns, rusted and
worn, were the same type of cannon (and possibly the identical pieces)
used by the Federals on Morris Island to bombard Fort Sumter from 1863
to 1865. They were buried with the casemates after Battery Huger was
constructed. When the parade ground was excavated in 1959 these
casemates were opened and 11 of these Parrott guns were uncovered. They
are now displayed in this face.

    [Illustration: Right face]


                           Right Gorge Angle

From a gun in the first-tier casemates, Capt. Abner Doubleday fired the
first shot from Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. This section also
sustained the deepest penetration of Confederate shot and shell in the
initial attack.

    [Illustration: Right gorge angle]


                           Officers’ Quarters

A three-story brick building extended the entire length of the gorge (or
back wall). In it were quarters for officers, administrative offices,
storerooms, powder magazines, and guardhouse. Most of the wooden
portions of the building burned during the initial Confederate
bombardment in 1861. The small-arms magazine here exploded on December
11, 1863, killing 11 and wounding 41 Confederates. The explosion also
tilted the arch over the magazine’s entrance. (The effects of that
explosion are still visible today.)

    [Illustration: Officers’ quarters]


                        Enlisted Men’s Barracks

Paralleling the left flank casemates, are the ruins of a three-story
enlisted men’s barracks which originally rose slightly above the fort
walls. Another enlisted men’s barracks, identical to this one, was on
the right flank directly opposite this wall.

    [Illustration: Enlisted men’s barracks]


                           Garrison Monument

The U.S. Government erected this monument in 1932 “in memory of the
garrison defending Fort Sumter during the bombardment of April 12-14,
1861.” The tablet contains a roster of the original garrison that served
under Major Anderson.

    [Illustration: Garrison monument]


                           Mountain Howitzer

Confederates used several light field pieces, like this 12-pounder
mountain howitzer, to defend against a surprise assault by Union
infantry troops during the 1863-65 siege.

    [Illustration: Mountain howitzer]


                        Other Points of Interest


                             Fort Moultrie

Three different Fort Moultries have occupied this site. The first, a
hastily constructed palmetto-log fort, was built in 1776 to protect
Charleston against British attack; the second, a five-sided earth and
timber fort, was completed in 1798 as part of the new Nation’s first
organized system of coastal defense; and the third, a more formidable
masonry structure begun after the second fort was destroyed by a
hurricane in 1804, has remained structurally intact and modified only by
the replacement of old weapons with new as technology changed.

During the Civil War, while the struggle for Charleston Harbor centered
on Fort Sumter, Fort Moultrie was far from idle and became “a very
formidable enemy” to Federal forces. It powerful guns played an
important role in the Confederate bombardment of Sumter in 1861. From
April 1863 to February 1865, Forts Moultrie and Sumter were the chief
defenders of Charleston as repeated Federal land and sea forces hammered
at them. “From 1861 to 1865,” one historian has written, “Fort Moultrie
found itself engaged in perhaps its strangest period of coastal
vigilance: defending the Confederate States of America against the
United States of America.”

The fort today is part of Fort Sumter National Monument and has been
restored to interpret the history of nearly 100 years of seacoast
defense. From the Harbor Entrance Control Post of World War II the
visitor moves steadily backward in time to the exhibit recounting the
fateful attack of the British fleet against the first Fort Moultrie in
1776. The visitor center contains a display of artifacts recovered
during the restoration. It also provides a film and slide show which
documents the proud heritage of coastal fortifications in the United
States. The grave of Seminole Chief Osceola, who died a prisoner at
Moultrie in 1838, is just outside the sally port. Nearby is a monument
listing the Federal sailors who died aboard the monitor _Patapsco_, when
it was sunk in Charleston Harbor on January 15, 1865.

Battery Jasper, built adjacent to Fort Moultrie in 1898, is also a part
of the national monument. Named in honor of Sergeant Jasper of
Revolutionary War fame, this strong seacoast defense work mounted four
powerful 10-inch “disappearing” cannon and, though unimpressive in
appearance, was infinitely stronger than early masonry structures built
to protect Charleston Harbor before the Civil War.

Fort Moultrie is about 10 miles east of Charleston on Sullivan’s Island.
Follow US 17 north from the city, then take US 17 (business) to Mount
Pleasant and turn right onto SC 703. From there follow the signs to the
park visitor center across from the fort on Middle Street.

    [Illustration: Battery Jasper]


                              James Island

James Island contains the site of Fort Johnson, from which the opening
shot of the Civil War was fired on April 12, 1861. All that remains of
the fort are an early 19th-century brick powder magazine, a
commemorative marker, and traces of the Confederate earthworks of
1863-65. To reach the site, follow US 17 south from Charleston and,
after crossing the Ashley River, take the Folly Island turnoff onto
Folly Road (SC 171). Proceed 4.7 miles, then turn left onto Fort Johnson
Road, which dead ends at the South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resource
Department.

    [Illustration: James Island]


                            Castle Pinckney

Castle Pinckney, one of the first masonry casemated forts in the United
States, was built in 1810. The circular structure, named for Charles
Cotesworth Pinckney, a South Carolina Revolutionary War leader, was one
of the first Federal installations seized by South Carolina militia on
December 27, 1860. Though too far out of range to take part in any of
the fighting during the Civil War years, the fort was still a vital link
in the Confederate defenses of Charleston. After the war it was
maintained as a harbor light station until 1929.

    [Illustration: Castle Pinckney]


                              The Battery

The Battery, or White Point Gardens as it is more formally known, has
been a public park since the 1830s and is one of Charleston’s most
picturesque and historic settings. Soon after the outbreak of the Civil
War, Confederate engineers erected huge earthen fortifications here
which withstood the shelling of the Union guns mounted on Morris Island.
The fortifications were abandoned and the heaviest guns destroyed when
Charleston was evacuated in February 1865. The Battery today contains
some of the most elegant structures in the city.

    [Illustration: The Battery]


                          For Further Reading

E. Milby Burton, _The Siege of Charleston, 1861-1865_. Columbia:
        University of South Carolina Press, 1970.

Bruce Catton, _The Coming Fury_. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Company,
        1961.

Peter M. Chaitin & the Editors of Time-Life Books, _The Coastal War:
        Chesapeake Bay to Rio Grande_. Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books,
        1984.

Mary Boykin Chesnut, _A Diary From Dixie_. Boston: Houghton Mifflin
        Company, 1949.

Samuel W. Crawford, _The Genesis of the Civil War: The History of the
        Fall of Fort Sumter_. New York: J. A. Hill & Company, 1898.

Richard N. Current, _Lincoln and the First Shot_. Philadelphia & New
        York: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1963.

William C. Davis & the Editors of Time-Life Books, _Brother Against
        Brother: The War Begins_. Alexandria, Va.: Time-Life Books,
        1983.

Abner Doubleday, _Reminiscences of Forts Sumter and Moultrie in
        1860-’61_. Spartanburg, S.C.: The Reprint Company, 1976.
        Originally published in 1876.

Robert U. Johnson & Clarence C. Buel, editors, _Battles and Leaders of
        the Civil War_. 4 Volumes. New York: Thomas Yoseloff, Inc.,
        1956. Volumes 1 and 4.

Emanuel Raymond Lewis, _Seacoast Fortifications of the United States: An
        Introductory History_. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution
        Press, 1970.

Kenneth M. Stampp, _And the War Came_. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State
        University Press, 1950.

Philip Van Doren Stern, compiler, _Prologue to Sumter: The Beginnings of
        the Civil War from the John Brown Raid to the Surrender of Fort
        Sumter_. Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1961.

W. A. Swanberg, _First Blood: The Story of Fort Sumter_. New York:
        Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1957.

U.S. War Department, _War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the
        Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies_.
        Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1880. Series
        I, Volumes I, XIV, XXVIII, & XXXV.


                                                ★GPO: 1984—421-611/10003



                              Handbook 127


                         _Illustration Credits_


  Architect of the U.S. Capitol: 4-5, 50-51;
  Art Commission of the City of New York: 6;
  William A. Bake: cover, 52-53, 55, 56-57, 58, 59, 61, 62;
  _Battles and Leaders of the Civil War_: 36 (Dahlgren), 41 (Shaw), 49;
  _Civil War Times Illustrated_: 14-15;
  Collection of City Hall, Charleston, S.C.: 12;
  Fort Sumter National Monument: 16, 26 (Chesnut), 37, 44-45;
  _Harper’s Pictorial History of the Great Rebellion_: 19, 20-21, 22,
          23, 25, 35, 38 (Seymour);
  Kennedy Galleries, Inc., New York: 30-31 (painting);
  National Park Service: 18 (Floyd), 26, 27, 28, 29, 30-31 (flags), 34,
          36 (Gillmore), 38 (Rhett), 40-41 (battle scene), 42, 46, 48,
          51 (inset);
  L. Kenneth Townsend: 8-9.



                         National Park Service
                    U.S. Department of the Interior


As the Nation’s principal conservation agency, the Department of the
Interior has responsibility for most of our nationally owned public
lands and natural resources. This includes fostering the wisest use of
our land and water resources, protecting our fish and wildlife,
preserving the environmental and cultural values of our national parks
and historical places, and providing for the enjoyment of life through
outdoor recreation. The Department assesses our energy and mineral
resources and works to assure that their development is in the best
interest of all our people. The Department also has a major
responsibility for American Indian reservation communities and for
people who live in island territories under U.S. administration.



                          Transcriber’s Notes


—Retained publication information from the printed edition: this eBook
  is public-domain in the country of publication.

—Relocated all image captions to be immediately under the corresponding
  images, removing redundant references like ”preceding page”.

—Silently corrected a few palpable typos.

—In the text versions only, text in italics is delimited by
  _underscores_.





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