The Battle At Fort Sumter

The Battle at Fort Sumter was the start of the Civil War. This article is an overview of the events that led up to that.

Attempts by the Confederate government to settle its differences with the Union were rejected by President Lincoln. The Confederate States felt they could not tolerate the presence of a foreign force in their territory.

The day after his inauguration as President of the United States, Lincoln received a message from Major Robert Anderson, commanding officer of the troops at Fort Sumter. In the message he stated that there was less than 6 weeks rations and supplies left in the fort.

Lincoln believed that conflict with the south was inevitable. However, in order to convince the states that had not yet seceded to unite and restore order to the Union, he needed the Confederates to fire the first shot.

On April 8th 1861 Lincoln sent a dispatch to Francis Pickens, the governor of South Carolina, that he would attempt to re-supply the fort. Immediately, the governor sent orders to the Confederate commander of Charleston, General Beauregard. These orders called for the immediate evacuation of the fort and if the garrison refused, to use force to evict its residents.

On April 11th 1861, General Beauregard delivered his ultimatum to the Major Anderson. Anderson replied that he and his men would evacuate the fort by noon on April 15th unless he received instructions to the contrary or additional supplies from his government. Anderson was expecting the supply ships before the 15th. General Beauregard replied that this was unacceptable and that Confederate shore batteries would open fire on them in 1 hour if they did not surrender the fort. Anderson replied that it was not possible for him to surrender the fort under those circumstances.

On April 12th 1861 at 4:30 A.M., Confederate batteries (43 cannons) opened fire on Fort Sumter. Within a short time the small fort in Charleston harbor was hammered into submission. This same bombardment also began the bloodiest war in U.S. history.

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