Fort Sumter

It all began at Fort Sumter.

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the union. Five days later, 68 federal troops stationed in Charleston, South Carolina withdrew to Fort Sumter, an island in Charleston harbor. The North considered the fort to be the property of the United States government. The people of the South Carolina believed it belonged to the confederacy. Four months later, the first engagement of the civil war took place on this disputed soil.

Major Robert Anderson, Commander at Fort Sumter was a former slave owner who was nevertheless loyal to the Union. Anderson and his soldiers were cut off from reinforcements and supplies. In January 1861, President Buchanan sent 200 soldiers and supplies on an unarmed merchant vessel, to reinforce Anderson. It quickly departed and artillery began firing on it.

In February 1861, Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as the provisional president of the Confederate States of America, in Montgomery, Alabama. On March 4, Lincoln took his oath of office as the president of the Union in Washington DC. The fate of Fort Sumter lay in the hands of these two leaders.

Weeks passed and pressure mounted on Lincoln to take some action on Fort Sumter and reunite the states. Fort Sumter was running out of supplies, but an attack on the Fort would appear as Northern aggression. He told the governor of South Carolina that he was going to send provisions to Fort Sumter. He would send no arms, troops or ammunition—unless South Carolina attacked. Davis ordered Anderson to surrender Sumter but he refused.

The civil war began at 4.30am on April 12 1861, when the confederate artillery, under the command of General Pierre Gustave T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter.

Source: Fort Sumter
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