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FTSUM_040510_019.JPG: Fort Sumter Bombarded
The lighthouse in the distance marks the southern tip of Morris Island. In July, 1863, Union troops landed there and advanced two-thirds of the way up the island to a Confederate stronghold known as Battery Wagner. Unable to capture the battery by direct assault, they brought up heavy guns, and after two months drove the defenders out. Union artillerists then set up powerful siege batteries at Cummings Point (directly ahead of you) and from there shelled Fort Sumter at point-blank range, reducing its once proud walls to a mere pile of rubble. Ironically, the more they damaged the walls, the stronger they became. Slaved piled the debris into huge breastworks, twenty feet thick, and reinforced them with cotton bales, sandbags, and other material, rendering the fort impregnable to artillery.
In 1863, Union forces built a battery about two miles away in the marsh on lower Morris Island (in front of you). They mounted an eight-inch Parrott rifle called the Swamp Angel. This huge gun fired 150-pound shells and was aimed at the city of Charleston five miles away.
The Swamp Angel's first shot on 1:30am on August 22 caused panic in Charleston. This deliberate bombardment of a civilian population shattered the city's security. The Swamp Angel's brief career ended abruptly the following day when the overcharged gun burst while firing its 36th round. Other guns soon took its place, and the bombardment of Charleston continued intermittently for the next 18 months.
FTSUM_040510_030.JPG: Flags of the Fort
The first official flag of the Confederacy, known as the "Stars and Bars" or "First National," was raised in April 1861 when Southern forces occupied Fort Sumter at the start of the Civil War. It had three bars and then a circle in the upper left with 7 stars.
The United States flag with thirty-three stars was the flag of the Union garrison which occupied the fort from December 1860 until Confederate bombardment forced their surrender in mid-April 1861.
The second official Confederate flag, called the "Second National," replaced the first banner in 1863. It flew over the fort until Confederate troops withdrew from all Charleston harbor defenses in February 1865. It was a white flag with the familiar Confederate "X" in the upper left.
The United States flag with thirty-five stars was the flag that was raised in February 1865 when Union forces reoccupied the fort at the end of the Civil War. Kansas and West Virginia had joined the Union during the war.
The state flag of South Carolina was a blue flag with a crescent moon in the upper right and a palmetto tree in the center. Early South Carolina regiments wore blue uniforms with a silver crescent on their caps. In 1776, a flag with a silver crescent on a blue field flew over the palmetto log fort on Sullivan's Island, now the site of Fort Moultrie. In a key Revolutionary War battle, the small garrison of the palmetto log fort repulsed and attack by British warships; the white palmetto tree on the blue field commemorates this battle. The flag was official adopted in 1861 and is still used today.
FTSUM_040510_038.JPG: The names here include Robert Anderson, the Union commander of the fort. They also include Abner Doubleday (who would go on to be misidentified as the inventor of baseball), Jefferson C. Davis, and the only woman at the fort, Ann Amelia Weitfieldt, who is identified as the matron.
FTSUM_040510_046.JPG: Gorge Wall
Fort Sumter was designed with its strength toward the sea. The gorge, the lightly-armed rear wall facing inland, was vulnerable to attack from Morris Island. Early shelling left the gorge wall in ruins. Continued bombardment reduced the gorge to rubble, but Confederate soldiers and slaved reinforced the debris with sandbags and cotton bales, creating an earthwork that made the fort stronger than ever.
FTSUM_040510_067.JPG: Charleston Besieged
In 1861, the port of Charleston prospered. Keeping the city open to trade was crucial for Confederate survival. Confederate forts in Charleston Harbor -- including Fort Sumter -- protected Charleston throughout the war despite Union blockade, warship attack, and two years of bombardment and siege.
Despite military conflict in the harbor, relative peace prevailed in the city until 1863, when Union forces captured nearby Morris Island and began shelling Charleston. This was a deliberate bombardment of civilians; the North hated Charleston for leading the sessionist movement and firing the first shots of the war. The Union bombardment, along with a devastating fire in 1861 and other fires set by evacuating Southern forces in February 1865, destroyed much of the lower city.
FTSUM_040510_082.JPG: The Palmetto Flag that flew here for awhile
FTSUM_040510_087.JPG: This 10-by-20 foot tattered storm flag flew over Fort Sumter during the bombardment of April 12-13, 1861. On the second day, a Confederate projectile shattered the flagstaff causing members of the Federal garrison to rush onto the parade ground, amid exploding shells and burning timbers, to retrieve the fallen flag. They carried it to the ramparts where it was hastily nailed to a wooden pole and re-raised. The tiny nail holes are still visible along the flag's left border.
Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard permitted Major Anderson take this flag with him when the Federal forces evacuated Fort Sumter on April 14, 1861. It and the fort's garrison flag were taken to New York City and displayed in a patriotic demonstration in Union Square. Both flags remained in the Anderson family until 1905 when they were presented to the War Department. They were transferred to the National Park Service in 1954.
FTSUM_040510_098.JPG: This diagram shows how the walls were collapsed by continual shelling. The dotted lines indicate how tall the fort was originally and then the solid lines indicate what was left of it. The sign:
During the long siege, Union batteries and ironclads hurled an estimated 3,500 tons of ammunition at Fort Sumter but failed to capture it. With Sherman's troops in South Carolina and an end to the war in sight, the Confederate garrison left the fort during the night of February 17, 1865. Proudly, they chose to abandon Sumter rather than surrender it to the enemy.
FTSUM_040510_104.JPG: Load... Ready... Fire! A disciplined well-trained crew of five men could fire an accurate shot in less than one minute. Teamwork and timing during battle were essential to the crew of this 42-pounder smoothbore cannon, one of 27 guns that occupied these first-tier casemates.
This casemate is an 1870 reconstruction, but the cannon, which rests on a 1961 reconstructed carriage, is one of Fort Sumter's original guns.
Artillery crews drilled daily to increase speed and skill using a variety of specialized tools and implements. Cannoneers were assigned specific duties: sponging the barrel, ramming home powder and shot, sighting, and adjusting the gun's direction.
Crew members would puncture the cartridge bag (containing gunpowder) with a vent pick, place the friction primer, and attach the laniard, which was yanked on the command "Fire." Tasks varied depending upon the type of gun and the projectile selected for a given target and range.
FTSUM_040510_124.JPG: Bruce Guthrie @ Fort Sumter
FTSUM_040510_126.JPG: Siege of Fort Sumter
A close look at the wall in front of you reveals Union artillery shells embedded in the brick. They were firing during one of the longest sieges in U.S. military history.
Batteries on Morris Island, about one mile behind you, and guns on Union warships shelled this Confederate stronghold for 22 months during 1863-65. The bombardment, primarily from Morris Island, destroyed the gorge wall behind you and severely damaged the left face wall in front of you.
The bullet-shaped shells embedded here were fired from powerful rifled cannon. Rifling (cutting spiral grooves in the cannon's bore) gave a spin to the shell, increasing accuracy, range, and destructive power. Rifled shells could be larger and heavier than the old, round shot fired from smoothbore cannon.
FTSUM_040510_137.JPG: Rearming the Fort
The fort wall before you, called the right face, sustained the last damage of any of Fort Sumter's walls (scarps) during the Union bombardment of 1863-65.
After the Civil War, the fort's first-tier casemates, including those in front of you, were rearmed with 100-pounder rifled Parrott cannon. These guns came from Morris Island, about one mile south of here, and could be the same guns the Union fired on Fort Sumter during the Civil War. Eleven Parrott guns occupy these right face casemates today.
When the United States modernized its seacoast defenses in the 1890's, these casemates were filled with sand to strengthen the old fort. Excavation in 1959 opened the casemates and the mounted Parrott guns were discovered.
FTSUM_040510_158.JPG: Margot Lebow @ The Columbiad
In front of you stands a rifled and banded columbiad cannon mounted as a mortar (aimed upward).
The dependable columbiad, a heavy-barreled seacoast gun introduced in 1811, was used throughout the Civil War. Columbiads were not designed as mortars, but Federals mounted five of them here for that purpose in 1861. This 10-inch columbiad could fire a 128-pound shell on a high arc. During the Confederate bombardment, Union troops in Fort Sumter aimed their columbiad mortars at Charleston, but never fired them.
During the Civil War, many columbiads, like the one in front of you, were "rifled" (spiral grooves cut in the barrel) and "banded" (a thick, metal band wrapped around the barrel's base). Rifling caused a shell to spin, making it more accurate. Banding strengthened the barrel, allowing greater powder charges.
FTSUM_040510_213.JPG: Powder Magazine
Fort Sumter's powder was stored in these specially constructed rooms in the corner (angle) of the gorge wall. Protecting gunpowder was critical; the gorge, at the rear of the fort, was considered a safe location. But Fort Sumter was designed to face the sea, and was vulnerable to attack from land. When Confederate batteries bombarded the fort in April 1861, the resulting fire threatened the magazine, causing Major Robert Anderson to surrender rather than endanger his men.
Wood-lined masonry walls, five feet thick, kept powder dry and safe from sparks and flame. But on December 11, 1863, the inner magazine with its store of small arms and munitions mysteriously exploded, killing eleven Confederate soldiers. The leaning brick wall and archway, still visible today, show the force of the blast.
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Wikipedia Description: Fort Sumter
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Fort Sumter, a Third System masonry coastal fortification located in Charleston harbor, South Carolina, was named after General Thomas Sumter. The fort is best known as the site where the shots initiating the American Civil War were fired, at the Battle of Fort Sumter.
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