The Battle of Fort Sumter


Who: P.G.T Beauregard (Confederacy) vs. Robert Anderson (Union)

What: Confederate victory

Where: Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor

Why: The seceded state of South Carolina wanted the US Army to abandon Charleston Harbor.

When: April 12-14, 1861.

“FORT SUMTER, S.C., April 12, 1861, 3:20 A.M. – SIR: By authority of Brigadier-General Beauregard, commanding the Provisional Forces of the Confederate States, we have the honor to notify you that he will open the fire of his batteries on Fort Sumter in one hour from this time.” – note given to Major Anderson after his unsatisfactory reply to the surrender ultimatum.

The Battle of Fort Sumter was a bloodless opening to the bloodiest war in American history. After South Carolina’s secession on December 20, 1860, US Army Major Robert Anderson in Charleston moved his troops from Fort Moultrie to the much more defensible Fort Sumter, on an island in the harbour. In January, an attempt to resupply the small garrison by ship was repulsed by artillery. Commander of the Confederate forces, P.G.T Beauregard (formerly one of Anderson’s students at West Point) began to direct shore batteries in the harbour towards the fort. As Anderson grew drastically short of supplies, Abraham Lincoln notified Francis Pickens, Governor of South Carolina that he was sending supply ships. The Confederate government responded with an ultimatum to evacuate Sumter. Anderson refused, and at 4:30am on April 12, the Confederates began to bombard the fort. After 34 hours, short of food, supplies and men and aware that he had no chance of success, Anderson surrendered. No-one was killed during the 34-hour battle, although a Union soldier was killed when a gun exploded during the surrender. Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers for what he thought would be a short war. Four more states seceded and joined the Confederacy, including the state of Virginia; West Virginia declared its loyalty to the Union and subsequently seceded from Virginia itself. The Civil War had begun.

Further reading:


5 thoughts on “The Battle of Fort Sumter

  1. Warfare is a fascinating subject. Despite the dubious morality of using violence to achieve personal or political aims. It remains that conflict has been used to do just that throughout recorded history.

    Your article is very well done, a good read.

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