What is Fort Sumter?
Fort Sumter is an island installation that was built in 1817 as a system of coastal fortifications to help to protect America’s Southern coastline from potential attacks. The walls of Fort Sumter are between 5feet and 8 feet thick. Fort Sumter is located in the Charleston, South Carolina harbor. South Carolina was the first state to secede from the United States. South Carolina would eventually become the State that felt the brunt of Sherman’s March as he cut though Southern territory in a march that drove the nail of defeat through the coffin of the Confederacy, and destroyed the Confederates will to continue the fight. But most important of all, Fort Sumter is where the American Civil War (1861-1865) official started on April 12, 1861.
Lincoln’s Inauguration as President
After Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as president of the United States on March 4, 1861, of a deeply divided Union; the “divided” States. On the day of his inauguration seven (7) states had seceded. Very soon after that four (4) other states followed bringing the total number of seceding states to eleven (11). Slave holding states seceded from the Union fairing that a Lincoln led Republican Party would bring about an eventual abolition of slavery across all of the United States of America. Earlier we saw that the rate of secession was directly related to the slave population. Therefore, the issue of slavery was a primary factor for the various states to secede.
Fort Sumter and the Civil War
When the Southern States seceded, they claimed ownership of all federal property and possession in the South. However, the major in charge of Fort Sumter, Major Robert Anderson, remained defiant. As an incomplete coastal installation, Fort Sumter was primarily of symbolic stature to the United States, and a position that made it an enviable possession for both parties; the Union and the Confederacy.
President Lincoln was determined to retain ownership of Fort Sumter. Therefore, failed attempts were made to send food and other re-enforcements to Fort Sumter by the United States government. In the meantime, the Confederate government made repeated attempts to get Major Anderson and the United States government to give up ownership of the fort. The Confederate Army eventually opened fire on Fort Sumter after a failed attempt by the United States Navy to bring in supplies to the soldiers now encircled on Fort Sumter by the Confederate Army.
The Confederates eventually opened fire on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1862. This bombardment lasted for 34 hours. After almost two days of taking fire from all angles, Major Robert Anderson eventually surrendered Fort Sumter to the Confederate Army. The Union Army’s only casualty on Fort Sumter was due to an accidental explosion on the Fort while departing. After the Union abandoned Fort Sumter, the Confederate Army took control and held the Fort for almost the entirety of the Civil War.
After the bombardment of Fort Sumter and the eventual abandonment by Major Anderson and his men, Abraham Lincoln declared war on the Confederacy and called for volunteers. After Lincoln’s call for volunteers, the South followed likewise and called up volunteers as well. The Civil War had officially begun. The Confederate Army abandoned Fort Sumter just before Robert E. Lee Surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse on April 9, 1865.
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