• Currier & Ives lithograph depicting the bombardment of Fort Sumter

    Fort Sumter

    National Monument South Carolina

Fort Sumter

Graphic representation of Fort Sumter in 1860, with a portion cut out to reveal the fort's interior.
Fort Sumter in December 1860.
NPS
 

Since the American Revolution, Americans have built groups or systems of forts at harbors along the coast to strengthen America’s defenses. Following the War of 1812, there were several major weaknesses in the American coastal defense system. To fill these voids, Congress planned the construction of 34 forts from Maine to Louisiana, and even two in California. Together these forts are the Third System of Seacoast Defense.

One of the forts planned was Fort Sumter and construction began in 1829. Thirty-one years later sectional tensions exploded at Fort Sumter into armed conflict. Explore this section to learn about Fort Sumter’s construction, design, and preservation. Visit our People and Stories sections to learn more about the events that happened here and the people that made history.

Did You Know?

Artist's rendition of the opening shot of the American Civil War with Fort Sumter in the distance.

The first shot of the American Civil War didn't hit anything. It was a 10-inch mortar shell, fired from Fort Johnson, that exploded above Fort Sumter as a signal for Confederate artillery to open fire on the Union-held fort. Fort Sumter National Monument, SC