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Fort Sumter
November 1860 thru April 1861

Confederate Commander

 Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard

Forces Engaged: est. 500



Captured or Missing:

Total: None

​Confederate Officers

Brig. Gen. R. G. M. Dunovant

Brig. Gen. James Simons

Confederate Order of Battle

Confederate Official Records

November 1860 through April 1861

Charleston County, South Carolina

Confederate Victory

Operations in Charleston Harbor (April 1861)

Union Commander

Major Robert Anderson

Forces Engaged: 80



Captured or Missing:

Total: None

​Union Officers

Capt. John G. Foster

Capt. Abner Doubleday

​Union Order of Battle

Union Official Records

           On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln became President-elect of the Union. With the election, the Union became a sectionalist country and government. Congress was controlled by the Northern States. With the election, the Southern States felt more threatened then when colonies of Great Britain. South Carolina decided to secede from the Union over Constitutional issues and States rights. December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union.

            Prior to South Carolina’s secession, the only Union troops in South Carolina were located at Fort Moultrie under the command of Colonel John L. Gardner. On November 15, Col. Gardner was relieved from command and his replacement, Major Robert Anderson arrived a week later. Major Anderson found Fort Moultrie to be an old Revolutionary era fort with the walls about ten feet tall. Over the years, sand had washed up on the walls so cows were walking on the walls grazing.Fort Sumter at the time, was still under construction.

            Fort Moultrie was very vulnerable as the South Carolina militia could stand in nearby second floor windows and shoot down on the Union troops. On December 26, Major Anderson made the decision to move to Fort Sumter. In the dead of night and avoiding Southern naval patrols, the soldiers moved to Fort Sumter. With the Union troops in the fort, the citizens of Charleston were outraged and demanded the troops evacuate. The Union troops stood their ground. Meanwhile, the South Carolina militia started repairing the surrounding forts. However, the militia had help from Washington D.C. in the favor of Secretary of War, Mr. Floyd, who appropriated money to reinforce Forts Moultrie and Sullivan. The Secretary had appropriated the money by stating there was a danger of war with Great Britain. But in fact, he was building up the forts for South Carolina and eventually the Confederacy.

            Moving into a fort under construction, with only 10 percent of the troops required, created a lot of work. The cannons were sitting in disorder on the parade ground along with other materials. Only the first and third tiers were ready to install cannons, so for the next 105 days, the Union troops prepared Fort Sumter.

            On January 5, 1861, the Star of the West left New York under the orders of the President-elect. Although, it was supposed to be a secret mission, rebel agents had watched the loading of the ship and contacted the militia in Charleston. Upon arriving outside Charleston Harbor, the Star of the West sailed towards Fort Sumter. As it approached the fort, Morris Island batteries fired a shot near the ship. With the captain of the ship ignoring the shot, the ship continued on. Fort Moultrie started firing on the ship and it was only then that the Star of the West turned around and back towards the Atlantic.

            Fort Sumter had an ample supply of shot and shell, however, friction primers were in short supply. The soldiers made cartridge bags out of flannel shirts and dozens of wool socks (Chester, 54). Major Anderson had the 32 pounders and 42 pounders on the lowest tier. He had 2 10-inch columbiads mounted on the terre-plein. The third columbiad was set up as a mortar on the parade ground.

            Meanwhile on March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as president. Lincoln’s plan was to maintain the Union and “did not consider federal authority to have diminished in the seceded states and that he considered it his “simple duty” as chief executive to ensure that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States”. President Lincoln was not going to fire the first shot, but maneuvered the South into firing the first shot.

The Confederate government in Montgomery had been biding their time in asking for the forts surrender. On April 11, 1861, General P.G.T. Beauregard sent Colonel Chestnut and Captain Lee to Fort Sumter to ask for their surrender. Major Anderson replied that his “obligations to my government, prevent my compliance”. In a verbal conversation with Colonel Chestnut, Major Anderson had stated they could not last much longer and would be starved out if the cannons did not batter them to pieces. After Colonel Chestnut had relayed this information to General Beauregard, he returned to Fort Sumter. On General Beauregard’s request, Colonel Chestnut asked Major Anderson when he would leave the fort. Major Anderson stated he would leave the fort on the 15th unless he received orders prior to leaving the fort.

            General Beauregard sent Anderson’s reply to Montgomery and Secretary of War, Leroy Pope Walker. General Beauregard also received news from the Confederate commissioners in Washington, DC. They sent word there was a ship carry reinforcements for Fort Sumter. The ship had enough troops that any attempt by the Confederates to take Fort Sumter would be useless. General Beauregard sent his messengers to Fort Sumter at which time Major Anderson was stalling. The messengers found Major Anderson at which time Colonel Chestnut informed him the first shot would be fired one hour after Chestnut left the fort.

            At 4:30am, April 12, 1861, the first shot was fired from Fort Johnson’s mortar. The first shot was allegedly fired by a Virginian, Edmund Ruffin. This started the continuous 34 hour bombardment of Fort Sumter. Fort Sumter did not reply with a shot until 7:30am and only after having breakfast. The first shot by the Union was made by Captain Abner Doubleday.

            During the next 34 hours, firing was continuous but did slow during the night and the next day. The first major damage to Fort Sumter came from Fort Moultrie in the form of hot shot. This set the barracks on fire during the morning of the 13th. Once the fire was discovered by the Confederate batteries, they doubled their efforts. Later around lunch time, the flagstaff carrying the Stars and Stripes was shot down. Seeing the flag was not flying, General Beauregard sent an envoy to discuss terms with the Union troops. While on their way to the fort, the General Beauregard’s aides saw they flag was flying again. As they started to return to Charleston, a white flag was raised. The aides returned and worked out the terms for surrender.

            The Union troops were allowed to salute the Stars and Stripes prior to lowering the flag and leaving the fort. As they traveled to the fleet waiting outside the harbor, the Confederate soldiers cheered the Union soldiers for their courage and fortitude during the battle. With the attack on Fort Sumter, the war had begun.

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