Fort Sumter

The bombardment of Fort Sumter which began on Friday, April 12, 1861 marked the beginning of the Civil War. Months of maneuvering between federal authorities and the newly formed Confederate States of America over control of federal forts in southern territory culminated with the surrender of the Charleston, South Carolina fort on April 14. Days later, President Lincoln declared that an insurrection existed, officially calling out the militia, and launching the nation into a full-scale military conflict. (By Matthew Pinsker)
Date Event
- Corps of Engineers begin repairs to defenses of Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter in South Carolina
Kentuckian Major Robert Anderson assigned to take command of Fort Moultrie in South Carolina
In Washington DC, President Buchanan meets with the South Carolina congressional delegation
In Charleston, Major Anderson is ordered not to provoke but also to resist attack
South Carolina governor asks President Buchanan's permission to occupy Fort Sumter with state troops
South Carolina governor orders militia to patrol Charleston Harbor between Forts Moultrie and Sumter
Under cover of night in Charleston Harbor, Major Anderson consolidates his forces at Fort Sumter
Secretary of War Floyd demands that the Cabinet permit withdrawal of federal forces from Charleston
South Carolina militia occupy Fort Moultrie and Castle Pinckney in Charleston Harbor
Secretary of War John B. Floyd of Virginia resigns and is replaced by Postmaster-General Joseph Holt
Major Anderson requests safe passage for the soldiers' families at Fort Sumter before any attack begins
Secretary of Navy orders U.S.S. Brooklyn to prepare to sail from Hampton Roads in Virginia
Governor Pickens declares South Carolina waters, especially Charleston Harbor, off-limits to U. S. vessels
In Charleston, South Carolina, Eliza Anderson pays a surprise visit to her husband at Fort Sumter
Chartered steamship sails from New York City bound for Charleston and the resupply of Fort Sumter
Jacob Thompson of Mississippi resigns as the Buchanan Administration's Secretary of the Interior
From the capital, Dickinson alumni L. Q. Washington leaks the secret reinforcement of Fort Sumter
Federal resupply ship for Fort Sumter fired on outside Charleston Harbor and forced to retreat
In Charleston Harbor, South Carolina authorities formally request the surrender of Fort Sumter
Fort Sumter commander refuses shipment of fresh produce from South Carolina authorities
Major Anderson requests safe passage for the women and children of his men at Fort Sumter
Dependents of the federal forces at Fort Sumter transfer to a waiting steamship for evacuation
Dependents of the federal forces at Fort Sumter sail for New York from Charleston Harbor
- The Virginia Convention on secession is meeting in Richmond
Jefferson Davis appoints Pierre G.T. Beauregard commanding general of the troops around Fort Sumter
Confederate diplomats in Washington pass on news of federal military and naval preparations
President Lincoln gives South Carolina notice that he intends to resupply Fort Sumter
From Montgomery, the Confederate secretary of war orders immediate action against Fort Sumter
General Beauregard demands that Major Anderson surrender Fort Sumter immediately
Off Pensacola, Florida, under cover of night, small boats reinforce the federal garrison at Fort Pickens
- Confederate artillery bombard Fort Sumter
Beauregard again demands that Major Anderson surrender Fort Sumter immediately
Major Anderson accepts a ceasefire and prepares to evacuate Fort Sumter
Governor Alexander Ramsey makes Minnesota the first state to pledge its militia to the Union
Stephen Douglas meets with Lincoln at the White House and pledges his support
Major Anderson and his men evacuate Fort Sumter and sail for New York
President Lincoln calls for 75,000 troops to suppress the Rebellion and enforce United States law
The governor of North Carolina sends an immediate refusal to provide troops for the Union
Secretary of War Cameron outlines his quotas of volunteers to state governors
In Philadelphia, Mayor Alexander proclaims both against treason and popular disorder in the city
Governor Magoffin of Kentucky refuses troops for "the wicked purpose" of subduing the South
Confederate president invites applications for "letters of Marque and Reprisal"
Major Anderson and his command arrive in New York Harbor
Private Edward Galloway, USA, injured at Fort Sumter, dies in hospital in Charleston, South Carolina
Remarkable gathering of 100,000 New Yorkers in Union Square in support of suppressing the rebellion
In Pennsylvania, the Carlisle Fencibles are officially mustered in as Pennsylvania Volunteers
Philadelphia's enlistments since the attack on Fort Sumter approach ten thousand
The Congress of the Confederate States opens a special session session in Montgomery, Alabama
In Charleston Harbor, General Robert Anderson re-hoists the United States flag over Fort Sumter
Date Title
Bangor (ME) Whig and Courier, “Have We a Traitor at the Head,” December 25, 1860
Charlestown (VA) Free Press, “The Clouds Lowering,” December 27, 1860
New York Herald, “Is South Carolina Out of the Union?,” December 30, 1860
Lowell (MA) Citizen & News, “Fort Sumter,” December 31, 1860
New York Times, “Honor to Major Anderson,” January 3, 1861
New York Herald, “Salutes in Honor of Major Anderson,” January 6, 1861
Boston (MA) Herald, “The Crisis Approaching!,” January 8, 1861
New York Herald, “Ex-Secretary Floyd on the Crisis,” January 15, 1861
"The Floyd Banquet," New York Herald, January 17, 1861
Fayetteville (NC) Observer, “An Incident at Fort Sumter,” January 17, 1861
New York Times, “The Battle of Morris’ Island,” January 19, 1861
Israel Washburn Jr. to Abraham Lincoln, January 21, 1861
Chicago (IL) Tribune, “A Prayer For Major Anderson,” January 22, 1861
New York Times, “The Ultimatum Rejected,” February 9, 1861
New York Times, “From Fort Sumter,” March 1, 1861
Abraham Lincoln to Winfield Scott, March 9, 1861
Winfield Scott to Abraham Lincoln, March 11, 1861
New York Times, “A Loyal Regiment,” March 12, 1861
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “Proposed Evacuation of Fort Sumter,” March 13, 1861
Chicago (IL) Tribune, "Fort Sumter," March 15, 1861
New York Times, “About Fort Sumpter [Sumter],” March 18, 1861
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “Fort Sumter,” March 22, 1861
Abraham Lincoln to William Seward, April 1, 1861
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “What Does It All Mean?,” April 9, 1861
Chicago (IL) Tribune, “War Inaugurated!,” April 13, 1861
General P. G. T. Beauregard's General Order Number 20, April 14, 1861, Charleston, South Carolina
Richmond (VA) Dispatch, “Retaliation,” April 15, 1861
Proclamation by Mayor Fernando Wood of New York City, April 15, 1861
New Orleans (LA) Picayune, “Lincoln’s War Talk,” April 15, 1861
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “The Dread Arbitrament of War,” April 15, 1861
Entry by Josie Underwood, April 15, 1861
Abraham Lincoln, Presidential Proclamation, April 15, 1861, Washington , DC
Joseph Medill to Abraham Lincoln, April 15, 1861
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “The Border States,” April 16, 1861
James Henderson to Abraham Lincoln, April 16, 1861
Chillicothe (OH) Scioto Gazette, “The War News,” April 16, 1861
Jefferson Davis, Proclamation, April 17, 1861
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “Abolition Anticipations,” April 17, 1861
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “Henry Ward Beecher on War,” April 19, 1861
Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Time Not Expired,” April 30, 1861
Abraham Lincoln to Robert Anderson, May 1, 1861
New York Times, “Arms for the Rebels,” May 1, 1861
Atchison (KS) Freedom’s Champion, “Are They Secessionists?,” May 4, 1861
Cleveland (OH) Herald, “The Feeling in Alabama,” May 6, 1861
New York Herald, “English Opinions on American Affairs,” May 7, 1861
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “Lying Dexterity,” May 14, 1861
San Francisco (CA) Evening Bulletin, “Protection of New Orleans,” May 24, 1861
Charleston (SC) Mercury, “Anniversaries of Independence,” June 27, 1861
Abraham Lincoln, Message to the Congress in Special Session, July 4, 1861
San Francisco (CA) Evening Bulletin, “The Critical Time of the Union Cause,” August 9, 1861
Gen. William Nelson's Proclamation and Offer of Amnesty in Kentucky, October 17, 1861
New York National Anti-Slavery Standard, "New Publications," July 19, 1862
Edwin Stanton, Orders for ceremonies at Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina
Reverend Henry Ward Beecher's remarks at the ceremony restoring the flag to Fort Sumter, South Carolina, April 14, 1865
Chicago Style Entry Link
Crofts, Daniel W. Reluctant Confederates: Upper South Unionists in the Secession Crisis. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989. View Record
Fehrenbacher, Don E. "Lincoln's Wartime Leadership: The First Hundred Days." Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association 9 (1987): 1-18. View Record
Freehling, William W. The Road to Disunion. Vol. 2, Secessionists Triumphant, 1854-1861. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. View Record
Klein, Maury. Days of Defiance: Sumter, Secession, and the Coming of the Civil War. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1997. View Record
Marvel, William. Mr. Lincoln Goes to War. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2006. View Record
McClintock, Russell. Lincoln and the Decision for War: The Northern Response to Secession. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008. View Record
Reid, Brian Holden. "The Crisis at Fort Sumter in 1861 Reconsidered." History 77 (1992): 3-32. View Record
Simpson, Brooks D. "Two More Roads to Sumter." Reviews in American History 17, no. 2 (1989): 225-231. View Record
Swanberg, W. A. First Blood: The Story of Fort Sumter. New York: Scribner Press, 1957. View Record
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