The New Student's Reference Work/Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter, a fort built on an island near the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, S. C. When fully equipped, it was to have 140 guns in three tiers; but at the close of 1860 it had not been finished. In December of that year Major Robert Anderson, who was in command, transferred the garrison of Fort Moultrie, only 109 men, to the new fort, on learning that he was unsafe from attack in the old fort. He could mount only 52 light guns. From January to April, 1861, the fort was, in fact, besieged, as President Buchanan had refused to hand over the South Carolina forts to the state government. On April 11 the South Carolinians demanded the surrender of Sumter; and, on this being refused, notice was given that the bombardment would commence at four o'clock the next morning. The fort was seriously damaged by the firing from the shore, which lasted for several hours, but no one was hurt. As provisions and ammunition had given out, Anderson agreed to abandon the works, which he did on April 14. The firing on Fort Sumter was the beginning of the Civil War. The works were stubbornly held by the Confederates till Charleston itself was abandoned in February, 1865, and during the war they were the city's chief defense. The fort was, however, bombarded by a Federal monitor fleet, and later by batteries on Morris Island, and shot into a shapeless ruin.