Fort Sumter, SC

April 12, 2001


Provided by: NASA/GSFC Landsat Program
Summary authors & editors: Jim Foster

According to most historians, the Civil War began at Fort Sumter, South Carolina 140 years ago today, on April 12, 1861. The photo above shows the reconstructed Fort Sumter, which sits on a spit of land in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. The original fort was badly damaged during the initial battle and in subsequent fighting. After 7 states seceded from the union in January of 1861, the south seized several federal forts. At Fort Sumter, confederate troops repulsed a supply ship trying to reach the fort. In early April, President Lincoln planned to resupply Fort Sumter and alerted South Carolina in advance, hoping to avoid hostilities. Fearing a trick, Confederate Brigadier General G. T. Beaureagard asked the fort commander, Major Robert Anderson, to surrender. Andersen said he would do so only when his supplies were depleted. Beauregard rejected this offer and told Andersen that he would fire on Fort Sumter. Shortly before dawn on April 12, the first shots of the Civil War rang out. Andersen surrendered the fort the following day. Soon afterwards, 4 other southern states seceded.

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