Frequently Asked Questions
How much damage did Hurricane Hugo do to the fort in 1989? The Fort Sumter dock had to be replaced, and its cannons sat in seven to eight feet of salt water in the parade ground. It was very messy, but no serious structural damage occurred. At Fort Moultrie, the wooden flagpole was broken. Back to top.
Why are most of the gun embrasures bricked in at Fort Sumter? During construction of Battery Huger fill was brought in and the old fort turned into an earthwork. The embrasures were bricked in to keep the fill from falling out. Back to top.
When and why was Battery Huger built? Named for South Carolina Revolutionary War Brigadier General Isaac Huger, Battery Huger was built in 1898-99 as part of a major coastal defense upgrade. An "Endicott" gun battery it is one of a series of concrete fortifications built on US coastlines in the 1890s to 1905, The name comes from Secretary of War William C. Endicott. Why is it painted black? To resemble the battery’s first paint job of the early 1900's when a mixture of tar and linseed oil were used as a waterproofing agent. Why is it still here? It would cost over $4 million to remove it. Back to top.
How do you pronounce “Huger?” HUgee or YOUgee. Back to top.
Where is Morris Island and Battery Wagner? A barrier island, Morris island has suffered from hurricane and storm erosion. As a result, Battery Wagner, and the other Union and Confederate fortifications on the ocean side of the island no longer survive. The movie Glory, based on the July 18, 1863 assault on Battery Wagner lead by the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, was filmed in Georgia. Back to top.
Why didn’t they send in the infantry/cavalry to attack Fort Sumter? The accreted land on the James Island side of Sumter is a modern change in the landscape. Spider Island was formed by dumping harbor dredge material on an existing sand bar after World War I. Sand has built up and formed a land bridge that is apparent at low tide. In the 1800's there was only water, marsh and sandbars between Sumter and Fort Johnson. Back to top.
What is left of Fort Johnson? Built in the early 1700s, the fort was expanded and improved during the French and Indian War, American Revolution, and War of 1812. During this same time the fort was damaged was hurricanes and storms. By the time of the Civil War only a few structures remained and Confederate forces built earthworks on the site. Today a circa 1820s brick powder magazine and a section Confederate earthworks are some of the surviving elements of the fort. Back to top.
Where are the projectiles in the wall at Fort Sumter? There are three cannon and a mortar on the parade ground (on white blocks). Two projectiles are imbedded in the wall in front of these guns, and a third a little further to the right. Back to top.
Where was the original sally port and wharf at Fort Sumter? The sally port (main gate) was located on the gorge wall at the spot where Battery Huger meets the brick wall (near the ruins of the Officers Quarters). The wharf extended directly out from the sally port. Back to top.
How did the Confederates get supplies to Fort Sumter during the siege of Charleston? Confederate supply boats made night runs to Fort Sumter. The Union guns generally weren’t employed at night. Back to top.
How far did the cannons fire? During the initial bombardment of Fort Sumter, the maximum range of the cannons actually in use was 2.4 miles. By the time the Union began bombarding in 1863, this range had increased to 4.5 miles. Back to top.
Did Major Anderson fire on Charleston? No, although Major Anderson did have one gun heavy enough to fire the 3.3 miles necessary to reach Charleston. This was a 10 in. Columbiad mounted on the parade ground at about a 45 degree angle. Charleston was bombarded by the same Union guns in 1863-65 which would destroy Fort Sumter upper tiers of brick. Back to top.
Was Abner Doubleday the same Abner Doubleday of baseball fame? Yes. Captain Doubleday was the second senior officer at Fort Sumter, and is the same man who is associated with baseball history. Back to top.
Was Jefferson C. Davis (listed on the Union monument at Fort Sumter) any relation to the Confederate President? No. President Jefferson Davis’ middle initial was “F.” Jefferson C. Davis was from Indiana and became a brevet major general in the Union army. Back to top.
What is an artificer? An artificer was a military workman in the artillery. He would not be an officer, but a non-commissioned officer or enlisted man who was a specialist of some kind. These men generally served in a capacity we would call work leader or foreman. Back to top.
What is a matron? Ann Weitfieldt was possibly related to Hospital Steward Edward Weitfieldt. Her presence at Fort Sumter during the April 12-13, 1861, battle is apparently based on hearsay evidence that appeared in a newspaper article. By army regulations laundresses could be employed in a military hospital. She would have been a civilian employee who worked with the surgeon and hospital steward generally washing bed linens, cleaning floors, washing windows, etc. and possibly cooking meals for patients. The title of matron was possibly used to “upgrade” her occupational status from laundress. The word “matron” does not appear in the army regulations. Back to top.
What is tabby? Tabby is a type of mortar mixed with oyster shells. It was used in the original construction of Fort Sumter, as well as in the 1870s when the fort was repaired. Back to top.
Were any men buried at Fort Sumter? We don’t know for certain, but it is generally believed that the first soldier to die at Fort Sumter, Pvt. Daniel Hough, was buried on the parade ground. It is unknown if he is still buried there, or was perhaps relocated during the course of the Civil War (if he was ever buried there at all). It’s interesting to note that Hough died an accidental death when a cannon discharged while he was loading it. This occurred the day after the battle ended, during a surrender ceremony. Back to top.
How many men were killed at Fort Sumter? One Union soldier was killed and another Union soldier was mortally wounded during the surrender ceremony (see above). Fifty two Confederate soldiers were killed there during the remainder of the war. While a number of slaves were killed while working at the fort, unfortunately the exact number is unknown. Back to top.
Why do you fly the Confederate flags at Fort Sumter? All of the smaller flags that fly at the Fort Sumter today are replicas of historic flags actually flown here during the Civil War. Back to top.
Why don’t you fly the Confederate flag at Fort Sumter? Most people expect to see the square or rectangular “Confederate Battle Flag” flying here. This type of flag was adopted/authorized by the Confederate military and officially produced for the army and navy. It would not normally have been flown over a building and was not a national flag of the Confederacy. Back to top.
Where did the men sleep at Fort Sumter? There were three buildings used for living space. One large structure stretched across the rear wall served as officers quarters. Two barracks stood just inside the left flank and right flank. You walked across the floor of the Left Flank Barracks when you came into the fort. All three buildings were three stories high. The officer's quarters and enlisted men's barracks were destroyed by US Army and Navy shelling during the 1863-65 Siege of Charleston. Back to top.
Where did they find the Hunley? The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was discovered in about 30 feet of water just outside the harbor about 4 miles from Sullivan's Island. For more information, visit the Hunley website. Back to top.
What do the palmetto and crescent signify on the South Carolina flag? In Col. William Moultrie's memoirs he wrote that he had a large blue flag made to match the blue uniform coats of the 1st and 2nd South Carolina Infantry Regiments. As the units had a silver crescent on the front of their uniform caps, this symbol was placed in the upper left hand corner of the flag. Since there was no United States or South Carolina flag at that time when the 2nd South Carolina garrisoned what became Fort Moultrie during the June 28, 1776, battle this flag was raised over the fort. Over 80 years later, in 1860, when South Carolina seceded from the Union the state had no official flag. In January 1861, it adopted an official flag. Inspired by the 1776 battle, they used the 2nd SC's flag as a model and added a Palmetto tree to it, representing the logs of the Revolutionary War fort. This flag has served as the state's flag since 1861. Back to top.
How high were the original walls? When Fort Sumter was new, the walls were about 50 ft. above low tide. Back to top.
Is this the place where Francis Scott Key wrote the “Star Spangled Banner?” No, Key was a witness to the Sept. 13-14, 1814 bombardment of Fort McHenry at Baltimore, Maryland, during the War of 1812. This inspired him to write "The Star Spangled Banner." Back to top.
I heard that Osceola’s body was stolen and taken back to Florida. Is that true? No. In 1966 there was evidence that someone had attempted to illegally remove Osceola's remains, which are located just outside the entrance to Fort Moultrie. The National Park Service exhumed the grave and it was determined that it had not been disturbed. The remains were reburied at the same location. Back to top.
What are all of the bunkers on Sullivan’s Island? After the Spanish-American War in 1898, the U.S. Army purchased all the land on Sullivan's Island from Fort Moultrie almost to the light house. This became the Fort Moultrie Military Reservation. In addition, more property was purchased up to Breach Inlet. On portions of this land the Army built "concrete bunkers" that are actually artillery emplacements called batteries. In 1947, after World War II, the Army closed its operations on Sullivan's Island. Today, Fort Moultrie and Battery Jasper are part of Fort Sumter National Monument. The remaining batteries and buildings are either private property or owned by the Town of Sullivan's Island. Back to top.
Did You Know?
On April 14, 1865, Maj. Gen. Robert Anderson came out of retirement to re-raise the same U.S. flag over Fort Sumter that he had lowered in surrender four years earlier. This flag is now on exhibit at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center. Fort Sumter National Monument, SC