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Fort Sumter, Capture of

Fort Sumter, Capture of (1861).After the Republican Abraham Lincoln won the election of 1860, seven states seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. The new president vowed in his inaugural address to “hold, occupy, and possess” federal property in the South, but by then the United States controlled only two major posts within the Confederacy: Fort Pickens, on Pensacola Bay, Florida; and Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Brig. Gen. Braxton Bragg appeared unenthusiastic about his chances of capturing Fort Pickens, and so attention centered on Fort Sumter.

On 10 April 1861, Confederate secretary of war Leroy Pope Walker ordered Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard to demand the evacuation of the Charleston post and, if refused, to reduce it. Maj. Robert Anderson held Fort Sumter with a modest garrison and forty‐eight guns, few of which could be manned. The Confederates encircled the harbor installation with thirty heavy pieces and eighteen mortars, and bombarded it from 4:30 A.M. on 12 April until early the next afternoon. Raging fires threatened the defenders and Major Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter with the honors of war. He began evacuating the post on the 14th.
[See also Civil War.]


William A. Swanberg , First Blood: The Story of Fort Sumter, 1957.
Richard N. Current , Lincoln and the First Shot, 1963.

Perry D. Jamieson

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