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Fort Moultrie National Monument
NPS photograph

From the time of the earliest European settlements until the end of World War II, coastal fortifications guarded the harbors and shores of the United States. At Fort Moultrie, two centuries of seacoast defense is told through a unique plan of restoration. Five sections of the fort and two outlying areas, each mounting typical weapons, represent a different historical period of Fort Moultrie. In its two centuries of history, Fort Moultrie has defended Charleston Harbor twice. During the Revolutionary War, the fort was still incomplete when it was attacked by a British fleet on June 28, 1776. After a nine-hour battle, the ships were forced to retire. Charleston was saved from British occupation and the fort was named for its commander, William Moultrie. Nearly a century later, during the Civil War, Federal forces bombarded Charleston's forts from land and sea for nearly two years. Though the masonry wall of Forts Sumter and Fort Moultire crumbled under the shelling, both forts were able to hold back the Union attacks. Despite its lack of use in combat since, Fort Moultrie was maintained until 1947 to provide a ready and inexpensive deterrent to any prospective enemy.

Fort Sumter National Monument
NPS photograph
Fort Sumter was one of a series of coastal fortifications built by the United States after the War of 1812. Begun in 1829 and named for South Carolina Revolutionary War patriot Thomas Sumter, the fort was still unfinished when Major Robert Anderson first occupied it with his 85-man Federal garrison in 1860. The base foundation of rock and granite material supported a massive five-sided, three story fort of 2.4 acres. Fort Sumter was one of few forts in the South that remained in Federal control during the immediate months after South Carolina and six other state seceded from the Union. As Anderson refused to evacuate, Fort Sumter became the site of the opening battle of the Civil War on April 12, 1861. For 34 hours Confederate forces assailed the fort, with limited return fire from Sumter with nine or ten casemate guns. Anderson surrendered and miraculously no one on either side had been killed. During the Federal bombardment of the Charleston harbor from 1863 to 1865, Fort Sumter was badly damaged. In the 1870's, the fort was rehabilitated by partially rebuilding the outer walls. It served mainly as a lighthouse station until 1897. A massive concrete battery was built in the center of the fort in 1898, a response to the Spanish-American War. A small garrison manned the battery's rifles during World War I, and the Army did not use Fort Sumter again as a military establishment until World War II. Since 1948 Fort Sumter has been recognized as a National Monument and administered and interpreted by the National Park Service for the numerous tourists who visit it every year.

Fort Sumter National Monument is administered by the National Park Service. Fort Moultrie, a unit of Fort Sumter National Monument, is located at 1214 Middle Street, Sullivan's Island and is open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., closed New Year's, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Days. Fort Sumter is accessible only by boats that leave from the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center in downtown Charleston and from Patriots Point in Mt. Pleasant. For additional information, visit the park online (link above) or call 843-883-3123.

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