South Carolina Picture Project

Fort Sumter – Charleston, South Carolina

South Carolina  |  SC Picture Project  |  Charleston County Photos  |  Fort Sumter

Fort Sumter, located at the entrance to the Charleston harbor, was built after the War of 1812 as one of a series of forts protecting the southern coast of the United States. On April 12, 1861, South Carolina militia troops at Fort Johnson on James Island fired the first shots of the Civil War at the Union forces occupying Fort Sumter. In December of 1860, after Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election, South Carolina led Southern states in adopting ordinances of succession. A few days later, US Army Major Robert Anderson moved his troops from Fort Moultrie to Fort Sumter, hoping to delay an attack by South Carolina militia.

Ft. Sumter Aerial

Larry Gleason, Aiken Aerial Photography, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

By the time Lincoln was inaugurated in March of 1861, six other states had joined South Carolina in seceding from the Union. The seven wrote a new constitution and formed the Confederate States of America, establishing their temporary capital at Montgomery, Alabama. At the same time, governors in Massachusetts, New York, and Pennsylvania quietly began buying weapons and training militia units. Tensions were clearly building toward confrontation.

Fort Sumter Aerial

Larry Gleason, Aiken Aerial Photography, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In April, multiple requests by South Carolina’s Governor for Major Anderson to abandon Fort Sumter had been repeatedly ignored. South Carolina militia troops, under the command of Brigadier General Beauregard, gathered in readiness across the harbor at Fort Johnson.

Fort Sumter Interior View

Kathie Lee of Hollywood, 2015 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The US Army sent heavily defended war ships to restock supplies at Fort Sumter. When the first US ship arrived on April 11, Beauregard’s aides Colonel James Chesnut, Captain Stephen Lee, and Lieutenant A. R. Chisholm visited Major Anderson at the fort to once again, demand a surrender. Though Anderson deliberated, ultimately he refused and Chesnut, Lee, and Chisolm returned to Fort Johnson and reported his answer to Beauregard.

Moon Over Fort Sumter

Kevin Cunningham of Charleston, 2016 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

At 4:30 AM on April 12, Confederate soldiers began to fire their cannons at Fort Sumter and they kept up the bombardment for 34 straight hours. Federal troops returned fire, but were ineffective. On April 13, the fort was surrendered and evacuated.The people of Charleston could see the battle taking place across the harbor. Naive to the ruin that would come, they believed the conflict would be short-lived. A famous diary of Mary Chesnut described a festive atmosphere along what is now known as The Battery with residents watching from their balconies and raising toasts to the beginning of the hostilities.

Ft. Sumter Historic

Matthew Brady, 1865 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The Confederacy held Fort Sumter until the very last months of the war, finally surrendering it to the Federal Army in February of 1865. Repairs were made to the structure after the war ended, but between 1876 and 1897 it was used only as an unmanned lighthouse station.

Fort Sumter Historic

1865 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Each time America went to war in the ensuing years, reconstruction was done to make Fort Sumter battle-ready. At the beginning of the Spanish American War, a new concrete blockhouse-style installation was built inside the original walls. Rifles were mounted during WWI and antiaircraft guns were installed during WWII, but the fort never saw combat again.

Fort Sumter Historic Photo

1865 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Fort Sumter became a United States National Monument in 1948. A short ferry ride from Charleston, the historic fort is open daily to the public. For more on visiting, go to the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center.

Special thanks to photographer Barry Gooch of Charleston for sharing his photos, including part of his collection of historical photos, with the South Carolina Picture Project.

Also, thank you to Larry Gleason for contributing his stunning aerial photos.

Fort Sumter National Monument is listed in the National Register:

Perhaps no area in America embraces the evolution of harbor fortifications as well as Fort Sumter National Monument, which includes both Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie. Strategically located at the mouth of Charleston Harbor, the first Fort Moultrie was the scene of a victory on June 28, 1776 that prevented the British from quenching the American Revolution in its early stages. The second Fort Moultrie occupied almost the same site from 1794-1804 as war clouds in Europe posed numerous threats to America. The third Fort Moultrie, completed in 1811, played its most significant role during the Civil War. On December 26, 1860, Union Major Robert Anderson evacuated the fort to occupy the new Fort Sumter one mile southwest in Charleston Harbor. Fort Sumter was built as a defensive counterpart to Fort Moultrie. The guns at Fort Moultrie helped drive Major Anderson out of the fort during the opening of the Civil War, April 12-13, 1861.

As the symbol of secession and Southern resistance, Fort Sumter was heavily damaged by Union rifled guns in 1863-1865, which signaled the end of obsolete masonry forts with many guns. During rehabilitation of these forts in the 1870s, larger guns were spaced further apart, powder magazines built underground and closer to the guns. Batteries Jasper and Huger were built in the Spanish-American War era. These huge concrete structures could withstand the more powerful naval armament. To protect minefields, smaller batteries such as Bingham, McCorkle, and Lord were developed. In World War II, the logical culmination in the evolution of harbor fortifications was the employment of electronic detection equipment of the Harbor Entrance Control Post with nearby defensive guns. The structures of Fort Sumter National Monument, whether large or small, have played a substantial role in safeguarding the Charleston area through nearly 200 years of history and seven wars.

Reflections on Fort Sumter

Contributor Kathie Lee shares: “Fort Sumter is a very special place to visit. I’ve visited many civil war monuments but to stand at the place of the war’s genesis is a very solemn experience for me. This shot took a bit of patience due to the number of people milling around the front of the fort. I wanted to get capture the beauty of the harbor and contrast it against the warmth and texture of the bricks and very large gate.”

Contributor Kevin Cunningham describes his moonlight photo: “This is the Strawberry Moon rising over Fort Sumter. The Strawberry Moon occurs when the June full moon coincides with the summer solstice. It last occurred in 1967 and won’t happen again until 2062. Various sources say that the term ‘strawberry moon’ was given because this full moon coincides with the start of strawberry season in the eastern United States.”

Add your own reflections here.

Fort Sumter Info

Address: 340 Concord Street (Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center), Charleston, SC 29401
GPS Coordinates: 32.752348,-79.874692

Fort Sumter Map

Fort Sumter – Add Info and More Photos

The purpose of the South Carolina Picture Project is to celebrate the beauty of the Palmetto State and create a permanent digital repository for our cultural landmarks and natural landscapes. We invite you to add additional pictures (paintings, photos, etc) of Fort Sumter, and we also invite you to add info, history, stories, and travel tips. Together, we hope to build one of the best and most loved SC resources in the world!

Please Comment Below

The South Carolina Picture Project is a volunteer project which earns no profit. We work hard to ensure its accuracy, but if you see a mistake, please know that it is not intentional and that we are more than happy to update our information if it is incorrect. That said, our goal is to create something positive for our state, so please make your comments constructive if you would like them to be published. Thank you!

3 Comments about Fort Sumter

No Gravatar says:
September 21st, 2014 at 12:42 am

Wonderful website, thank You !!

Barbara Ryan GaritoNo Gravatar says:
March 25th, 2014 at 1:20 pm

Is it possible to get the names of soldiers stationed at Ft. Sumter during WWI? I believe my grandfather was stationed there, Edmund Joseph Ryan, and married my grandmother, Francis Jones.

Barbara GaritoNo Gravatar says:
June 22nd, 2012 at 2:48 pm

Is it possible to get the names of soldiers stationed there during WWI? I believe my grandfather Edmund J Ryan was there and married my grandmother Francis Jones.

Related Pages

St. John's Lutheran Gates

German Fire Company Chalmers Street

Coburg Cow
Coburg Cow

Confederate Home
Confederate Home

Lodge Alley Charleston
Lodge Alley

Sky Residence
Sky Residence

Tellis Pharmacy
Tellis Pharmacy

William Mason Smith House

Charelston 9 Memorial park


Join Us on Facebook
Our 5 Goals
Our Contributors
Add Info
Add Pictures
Search for Pictures
Missing Landmarks


Abbeville ACE Basin Aiken Allendale Anderson Awendaw Bamberg Barns & Farms Barnwell Beaches Beaufort Beech Island Belton Bennettsville Bishopville Blackville Bluffton Bridges Bygone Landmarks Camden Carnegie Libraries Cemeteries Charleston Charleston Navy Base Cheraw Chester Churches Clemson Clinton Clio Colleges Columbia Conway Courthouses Darlington Denmark Dillon Donalds Easley Edgefield Edisto Elloree Fairfax Florence Folly Beach Forests and Nature Preserves Gaffney Garden City Beach Georgetown Glenn Springs Graniteville Greeleyville Greenville Greenwood Greer Hamburg Hampton Hartsville Hemingway Hilton Head Historical Photos Historic Houses Honea Path Hopkins Hunting Island Isle of Palms Jails James Island Johns Island Johnsonville Johnston Kiawah Island Kingstree Lake City Lake Marion Lakes Lancaster Landrum Latta Laurens Lexington Libraries Lighthouses Little River Manning Marion McClellanville McCormick Military Mills Moncks Corner Mountains Mount Carmel Mount Pleasant Mullins Murrells Inlet Myrtle Beach National Register Newberry Ninety Six North Augusta North Charleston North Myrtle Beach Orangeburg Parks Pawleys Island Pendleton Pickens Piers Pinopolis Plantations Port Royal Post Offices Ravenel Restaurants Ridgeway Rivers Roadside Oddities Robert Mills Rock Hill Rockville Rosenwald Schools Salters Saluda Savannah River Site SC Artists SC Heroes of the Alamo Schools Seneca Shrimp Boats Society Hill Spartanburg Sports Springs St. George St. Helena Island St. Matthews Stores Sullivan's Island Summerton Summerville Sumter Synagogues Town Clocks Trains & Depots Trees Trenton Turbeville Ulmer Union Wadmalaw Island Walhalla Walterboro Waterfalls Water Towers West Columbia Westminster Winnsboro Yemassee York `

© 2016, LLC All rights reserved.