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Fort Sumter

1861, inside the fort flying the Confederate Flag
Fort Sumter, located in Charleston, South Carolina harbor, is perhaps best known as the site where, according to tradition, the first shots of the United States Civil War were fired. In fact, Southerners had fired on and drove off US Army reinforcements on their way to Fort Sumpter in January.

The fort was guarded by sixty-eight soldiers commanded by Major Robert Anderson, a regular army officer from Kentucky. The Confederate officer was Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard. A few years earlier, at West Point, he had been Anderson's student, and Anderson thought very highly of Beauregard's military knowledge; he later appointed him as his assistant. On April 10, 1861, the Union garrison in the fort was told to surrender by Beauregard. This demand was refused and on April 12, 1861, Confederate batteries opened fire which lasted for 36 hours on the fort. The open fire command was proudly given by civilian Edmund Ruffin, a farmer from Virginia who had long favored secession. The Union returned fire but was ineffective.

On April 13, the fort was evacuated after surrendering. The only casualties took place after the surrender, when two Union soldiers were killed, and two others wounded during an inadvertant gunpowder explosion during a salute that occurred during the evacuation. Accounts often describe Charleston residents along what is now known as "The Battery" or "Battery Park", sitting on balconies and drinking salutes to the start of the hostilities.

See also, Mary Chesnut

Union batteries and ships bombarded the Confederate-held fort from August 17 - December 31, 1863.

Before the attack

Under fire