Palmetto Carriage Works Blog

Fort Sumter: An Integral Piece of Charleston’s History

Charleston, SC is full of incredible history. From the founding of our nation to the beginnings of the Civil War, there is no shortage of stories from our small town that ultimately helped to shape the world we live in today. One of Charleston’s most famous historical sites is best known for the role it played in the beginnings of the Civil War: Fort Sumter

Sitting in the middle of Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter is a manmade sea fort that was constructed in an effort to protect the region against a naval attack. From Maine to Louisiana, there were over 40 similar fortifications built before construction was halted due to the breakout of the Civil War. Fort Sumter was one of these structures and was never actually finished. Construction officially began in 1829. 

With talks of secession in the air among many southern states, it became clear that the Union had some big problems. Southern senators were vacating their seats to join the Confederate mission, and a provisional Confederate president was elected: Mississippi Senator Jefferson Davis. By the end of 1860, South Carolina had officially seceded from the Union and several other southern states quickly followed suit. 

As tensions continued rising over the months after the secession, it became clear to the Union that things may not end peacefully. Fort Sumter appeared to be an easy target, and ultimately that would be where things would come to a head officially signaling the beginning of the American Civil War.

The Battle of Fort Sumter occurred on April 12, 1861. The two sides fought ruthlessly for 36 hours with the Confederacy taking an early advantage as the Union forces were outmanned and undersupplied. Ultimately, it became clear that the fort would not hold, so Union major Robert Anderson surrendered Fort Sumter to Brig. Gen. P.G.T. Geauregard’s Confederate forces. 

The war is now known as the bloodiest in American history, having claimed more than 620,000 lives in just over four years. Fort Sumter remained under Confederate control for the remainder of the war. Since the middle of the 20th century, Fort Sumter has been open to the public as a national historical park, where tourists are invited to visit and learn more about what happened here. Palmetto Carriage Works now offers a combination tour offering guests the opportunity to tour the City of Charleston by carriage, and then snag a reservation on the boat to Fort Sumter at a time and date of their choosing. For more information about this combination tour, click here.