Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861
Fort Sumter was a federal fort in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, that needed additional supplies in April of 1861. This fort was important because it was one of two Union-controlled forts in southern territory. President Lincoln was faced with a difficult choice in April 1861. Sending a gunship to resupply the fort could be seen as an attack against the Confederacy. Not resupplying the fort could likely demonstrate weakness in the face of a rebellious south.
Lincoln decided to resupply the fort, and before his ship could get there, the Confederacy attacked. Thirty-three hours later, the fort fell to Confederate forces.
At Fort Sumter, the Confederacy was the aggressor. As a result of the South’s attack, thousands of northerners joined the Union army. Lincoln initially asked for 75,000 troops. By 1862, more than 700,000 men had signed up to fight.