History & Culture
Confederate forces fired the first shots of the Civil War upon Federal troops at Fort Sumter at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861. The roots of that conflict are buried deep within the stories of the development of the United States. Fort Sumter would continue to serve as the focal point in Charleston throughout the Civil War.
Sullivan's Island has long served as Charleston Harbor's first line of defense against disease or foreign invasion. Quarantine stations checked every person that came into the harbor, including enslaved Africans. Later a palmetto log fort was built by Colonel Moultrie and the Second South Carolina Infantry. This fort came to be known as Fort Moultrie, and was replaced and modified as technology and warfare changed through the mid-twentieth century.
The Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square sits on the site of Gadsden's Wharf, where hundreds of thousands of enslaved Africans were brought into the United States. Today the site interprets the causes and catalysis of the Civil War and the results of that war on the nation.
Did You Know?
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