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.

Exterior view of the gorge of Fort Sumter on the 14th April 1861 after its evacuation by Maj. Robert Anderson 1st Arty. U.S.A. Commdg showing that portion towards Cummings' Point, Morris' [i.e. Morris] Island. (Source)

Bombardment of Fort Sumter by the batteries of the Confederate states (Source)