Wooden Walls and Timber Towers: Fort Sumter

By December 4, 2016

Fort Sumter was the fort that was fired upon officially start the Civil War. Fort Sumter was made by army engineers in Charleston South Carolina because they wanted to make more forts besides Fort Moultrie around the harbor.

The engineers built a small island out of stones and on top of that they made Fort Sumter. It has five sides, its all brick. The walls are five feet thick and fifty feet tall. On four of the walls there were two levels of guns that could defend the harbor and the fort.  The soldiers lived in three buildings inside the fort walls. Fort Sumter was based on the pentagon. The fort was never finished.

Robert Anderson slipped into Fort Sumter on December 26, 1860 to better defend Charleston from the Confederate States of America.  On December 27, 1860 Confederate soldiers took over Castle Pinckney, Fort Moultrie, and Fort Johnson.

In the spring 1861, Confederate messengers went to Fort Sumter and asked Anderson to surrender, but he refused. In the early morning hours of April 12, 1861 the Confederates began firing on Fort Sumter. These shots began the Civil War.  Anderson was forced to surrender. Although both the Union and Confederates suffered wound no one was killed.

Major Anderson lowered the U.S flag at noon on April 14, 1861, and removed his men from the fort. When the Confederate army took over the fort they repaired and improved it. Confederate soldiers improved the walls by adding sand and large cotton bales to the rooms inside the fort walls.

In April 1863 the Union first tried to take back Fort Sumter using ironclad ships, but the Confederates, stopped them with cannon fire from Fort Sumter and Fort Maultrie. On April 17, 1863, the Union tried to take over the fort by land and sea. The bombardment began with more than one thousand shells fired. The union guns shattered its walls, but the fort with its defenders refused to fall. For twenty two months, Fort Sumter withstood Union guns that fired more than seven million pounds of metal.  Finally on February 17, 1865 the confederates left after a large Union army came from Savannah, Georgia. On April 14, 1865, Major Robert Anderson returned to the fort and raised the nion flag over the ruins of Fort Sumter.

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