Battle of Fort Sumter

Allan Pinkerton, President Abraham Lincoln, General John McClernand at Antietam during the Civil War
Allan Pinkerton, President Abraham Lincoln, and General John McClernand at Antietam during the Civil War. October 3, 1862. Courtesy of Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, LC-B8171-7949 DLC


April 12-14, 1861

Other Names:



Fort Sumter, South Carolina

Key Individuals Involved in the Battle of Fort Sumter:

Union: Major Robert Anderson
Confederate:Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard


Confederate Victory. No Casualties.

Overview of the Battle:

The Union garrison at Fort Sumter, South Carolina was commanded by Major Robert Anderson. After South Carolina seceded from the Union in December,1860, Anderson made the decision to move his small group of troops from the land fortifications to Fort Sumter.

The fort itself was located on a man-made island, built purposely to help protect Charleston, South Carolina as a major U.S. port. However, Anderson and his small group of 100 soldiers were soon desperate for supplies. President James Buchanan had attempted to send them supplies and additional reinforcements, but Confederate bombardment forced them to turn away. 

A little after a month into Abraham Lincoln's term in office, the decision was made to attempt to once again resupply and reinforce the troops located at Fort Sumter. President Lincoln ordered a fleet of ships into Charleston Harbor. At the same time, he informed South Carolina of his decision. 

Brigadier General P. G. T. Beauregard was the commander of the provisional Confederate forces located in Charleston at this time. On April 10, 1861, Beauregard demanded that the Union garrison located at Fort Sumter surrender. However, Anderson refused Beauregard's request for surrender.

With the knowledge that a fleet was on its way to resupply the fort, the Confederacy decided to make an aggressive move against the fort. Two days after the request for surrender, on April 12th, Confederate batteries began bombarding the fort. The defending soldiers were unable to reply effectively.

At 2:30 pm on April 13th, Major Anderson surrendered the fort. He evacuated the garrison on the following day.

The bombardment of Fort Sumter was the opening engagement of the American Civil War. Although there were no casualties during the bombardment, one Union artillerist was killed and three were wounded (one mortally) when a cannon exploded prematurely while firing a salute during the evacuation on April 14. The next day, President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for the raising of a 75,000 person militia and convening Congress to meet. As Lincoln stated in his proclamation, "I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs already long enough endured." The US Civil War would not officially end until May 9, 1865 with a statement by President Andrew Johnson. Approximately 620,000 people died during the war. This was about 2.5% of the US population at the time which would be equivalent to around 7 million Americans dying today. 


Source: CWSAC Battle Summaries