The Significance of the Battle of Fort Sumter

The Battle of Fort Sumter not only plays a major role in the history of Charleston, SC, but in the history of the United States. The commencement of this battle was the beginning of one of the most significant pieces of American history, and it changed the country forever. Read on to learn the significance of the Battle of Fort Sumter!

Setting the Scene

When Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860, many states were in an uproar because they believed he was going to abolish slavery. In response to his presidency, South Carolina seceded from the Union, followed shortly by six other states. They then named themselves the Confederate States of America.

Tensions Running High

Before South Carolina seceded, Union Major Robert Anderson had his troop of 85 soldiers positioned at Fort Moultrie, which is just by the mouth of the Charleston Harbor. When South Carolina seceded, Maj. Anderson was afraid for the safety of his troops, so they moved to Fort Sumter. Fort Sumter is located at the entrance of the harbor, so whoever occupies it essentially has the power to control who can enter and exit. It was a bold move that outraged the Confederates.

While Anderson and his troops were stationed at Fort Sumter, supplies were running dangerously low, and the tension between his force and the Confederates was at an all-time high. The Confederates demanded that he surrender the fort. Anderson refused, and still requested from the Union that supplies be sent so that he and his troops could survive.

A Union ship called Star of the West was then sent to restock Fort Sumter. However, Confederates released fire on the ship, and the supplies were unable to be delivered, leaving Anderson and his troops struggling.

The Battle Commences

Lincoln then notified South Carolina Governor Francis W. Pickens that he was going to send more supplies to the soldiers in Fort Sumter, to which he received an ultimatum—evacuate the fort, or else.

Anderson refused to surrender the fort once again. So, from their artillery batteries completely surrounding the harbor, the Confederacy released fire on the fort at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861.

This signified the beginning of the American Civil War.

While Anderson and his troops fired back, they were weak from their lack of supplies and knew they were outmatched. After 34 hours, Anderson finally agreed to surrender the fort.

The Aftermath

Upon the close of the Battle of Fort Sumter, there was a call for more military action from both the North and the South. Lincoln requested that 75,000 volunteers help squander the Confederacy, which actually caused four more states to secede. From here, the American Civil War raged on for three more years.

Learn More

If you enjoyed learning about the significance of the Battle of Fort Sumter, you have to take a tour with Classic Carriage Works. Our knowledgeable guides would love to tell you more about the many other historic sites in Charleston, SC, as you enjoy a ride on a shaded, horse-drawn carriage. Book a tour with us today!