What Really Happened At Fort Sumter?

The Battle of Fort Sumter is an important moment in the history of the United States of America as it is often referred to as a battle that initiated the Civil War. IMage credit: chrisdorney / Shutterstock.com
  • In the battle for Fort Sumter, Major Anderson and 86 of US soldiers were unharmed, despite the artillery pouring down the fire.
  • After the Civil War ended, the US military restored Fort Sumter, and it was guarded like a military base should be guarded up until World War II ended, after which it was reformed into a National Historic Site.
  • The only two casualties linked with this event happened after the whole thing was done. Due to a gun explosion during the surrender ceremony, two Union soldiers were killed.

The Battle of Fort Sumter is an important moment in the history of the United States of America as it is often referred to as a battle that initiated the Civil War. The event took place in April of 1861 when Fort Sumter was bombarded by the militia of South Carolina (because the Confederate Army has not yet been formed). The United States Army, which was in control of the garrison up until then, tried to defend for two days, but ultimately had to give up Fort Sumter. 

Secession Of South Carolina

Events that led to these kinds of actions started a year before when South Carolina declared secession. By doing so, they also demanded that the United States Army leave their area immediately, which meant that they had to abandon their position in the Charleston Harbor. 

As came 1861, the atmosphere surrounding Fort Sumter started to look like a siege more than anything else. The men that were technically now trapped inside the garrison begun to suffer from the shortage of all kinds of resources. General P. Beauregard, who will be leading the Confederate Army in the events that will follow this, tried to make the situation as difficult as possible for the US Army. He ordered that more men surround the Charleston Harbor, only to make the delivery of resources an impossible task, as the country was now on the verge of war. 

Trapped US Troops And Lincoln’s Reaction

Helping Fort Sumter and providing resources to the US military personnel who were trapped there became the first problem for President Abraham Lincoln, who was just elected a few months prior to the crisis.

Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial.

Lincoln informed Francis W. Pickens, who was the Governor of South Carolina at the time, how he sent ships that were bringing resources to Fort Sumter. When they heard that, the Confederate government demanded that the US soldiers leave Fort Sumter immediately. Major Anderson, who was in command of the troops, did not obey that ultimatum. 

Bombardment At Dawn

On a very early morning, at 4:30 AM, the Confederate army used the artillery troops strategically placed during the siege and bombarded Fort Sumter. Major Anderson and his men defended Fort Sumter for the next 34 hours, but they had no chance for success as they were severely outnumbered. With no other choice left, Major Anderson agreed to the ultimatum and ordered that the US troops leave the garrison. One thing to note is that, despite the heavy bombardment and a day and a half of exchanging fire, nobody was killed during the whole situation. 

However, after the battle, it was evident that even more supporters for military actions, on both North and the South. President Lincoln asked for 75,000 volunteers to help to control the events that were taking place. After that, four more states also joined the Confederacy by declaring their secession, which opened the doors to battles of the American Civil War


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