Fort Sumter National Historical Park

Audio Availability: loading...

Total Audio Length: loading...

OVERVIEW: About this audio-described brochure

Welcome to the audio-described version of Fort Sumter's official print brochure. Through text and audio descriptions of photos, illustrations, and maps, this version interprets the two-sided color brochure that Fort Sumter visitors receive. The brochure explores the history of the park, some of its highlights, and information for planning your visit. This audio version lasts about 51 minutes. 

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: Front side of brochure

The horizontal page has a black title band on the left edge. Text inside the title band reads Fort Sumter National Monument, South Carolina, National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Also in the black band is a logo, a brown textured arrowhead, pointing down. Inside the arrowhead, at the upper right, white words, National Park Service. A white bison stands in the foreground at the bottom. Behind it, a green field leads to a tree line, a white lake on the right and a towering sequoia tree to the left. A snow-capped mountain looms in the background. 

The page is broken into three different sections. The first section is filled with a painting of Fort Sumter as it looked prior to the Civil War. Below that image are portrait paintings of Union Major Robert Anderson on the left and Confederate Brigadier General Pierre G. T. Beauregard on the right. Behind Anderson's image is a 33 star American flag. Behind Beauregard is a Palmetto Guard flag. 

The second section contains a detailed chronology that begins on December 20, 1860 to the departure of federal troops from Fort Sumter on April 14, 1861. 

The third section starting from left to right contains a map of Charleston Harbor entitled Confederate Stronghold, 1863-1865. This is followed by portraits of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, Major General Quincy A. Gillmore, and Major John A. Johnson. Below Johnson's portrait is a painting of battered Fort Sumter.

↑ back to top

IMAGES and TEXT: Major Robert Anderson and flag

IMAGE 1 of 2: Union Flag


A battered and war torn 33-star American flag. The edges are not even and there are rips and holes in various spots. Three of the holes are in the field of blue and from what is seen there are three in the red and white stripes. The field of blue containing the 33 stars to represent the 33 states that were in the United States is in the top left corner and the 13 stripes that represent the 13 original colonies cover the rest of the flag. The stripes alternate in a red then white pattern with a white stripe just below the field of blue. There are 7 columns of stars and from top to bottom, left to right, the star pattern in the field of blue is in the first column two stars next to one another, a space, a single star, a space and another two stars on the bottom. Second column there is a larger space then 3 stars  with a larger space on the bottom. Third column there is a small space on the top followed by 5 stars and a small space on the bottom. Fourth column has 7 stars that leaves no extra space . Fifth column there is a small space on the top followed by 5 stars and a small space on the bottom. Sixth column there is a larger space then 3 stars with a larger space on the bottom. and seventh column two stars next to one another, a space, a single star, a space and another two stars on the bottom. 

This flag is partially covered by Union Major Robert Anderson's body so the end of the fly (the part of the flag that flies out and does not contain any blue) cannot be seen.



IMAGE 2 of 2: Major Robert Anderson Portrait


A portrait painting of US Major Robert Anderson. This painting shows Anderson from mid-thigh up with the core of his body facing forward and his head and eyes turned to his left. He has dark hair that is brushed in a swoop over his forehead, dark, thick, furrowed eyebrows that showcase his intense gaze off in the distance which can also be seen on the rest of his face. He is wearing a dark navy blue, almost black, long coat, which is called a frock coat, that is made of wool. This coat has a stand up collar that goes to mid-neck with his white shirt just visible above. on each of his shoulders there is a rectangular shoulder strap. Down the front of the coat is a  double row of brass buttons, 12 in total. Along his waist is a sword belt and on the buckle is an eagle surrounded by wreath with a red sash beneath the belt. The sash is most visibly seen on Anderson's left hip where it flows down beside his sword. The handle and guard of his sword are just visible. His left hand is partially extended a short distance away from his body. In his right hand is a spyglass that is partially visible. The photograph is cropped from a painting and is overlaying the previous picture and the American flag.


Art commission of the city of New York


Here, at the fort named for South Carolina Revolutionary War patriot Thomas Sumter, the opening shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861. The fort, shown here as it appeared on the eve of the war, was begun in 1829, one of a series of coastal fortifications built by the United States after the War of 1812. As with many Federal projects, enslaved laborers and craftsmen were among those who worked on this structure. The fort was still unfinished when Major Robert Anderson moved his 85-man garrison into it the day after Christmas 1860, setting in motion events that would tear the nation asunder four months later. The flag is the one that flew over the fort during the 1861 bombardment.

↑ back to top

IMAGE: Fort Sumter


This historic painting is light in color with browns and whites being primarily used.  The central focus of this painting is the three story Fort Sumter. This is from the back left angle with the two walls visible, including the back wall. In the center of this wall is an arched doorway that had pillars on wither side and a triangle above. There is a long pathway that extends the right of the frame that has two people walking on it that ends at that doorway. Along the walls are numerous small and narrow windows. They are organized in two rows of 8 windows. On the angle where the two walls meet is an angle wall that has 2 rows of 2 windows. On the back wall there are 2 rows of 48 long narrow windows. On the interior of the back wall there are 4 chimneys with only a small portion visible over the top of the walls. In the center top of the back wall is a lump of brick just above the arched doorway. Central there is an American flag that is poking out over the top and is partially cut off by the black banner that runs the length of the top of the brochure. Along the top of the fort is arched cutouts of brick lining it. 

The fort itself is situated on top of broken rocks that barely extend beyond the fort's walls. There are waves lapping against the rocky edges. 

To the left of the fort is a sailing ship that is sailing beside the fort.

In the foreground there is a small sailing boat (scooner) that has two masts that are not up. The boat has a rope attached and on the dirt trodden land to the right is a man sitting on a barrel. 


Seth Eastman painting courtesy architect of the U.S. Capitol

↑ back to top

IMAGES AND TEXT: Pierre G.T. Beauregard and flag

IMAGE 1 of 2: Palmetto Flag


The flag appears battered and war torn, the right hand side of the flag appears to be missing or cut off. The flag is cream in color with a red, five pointed star in the upper left hand corner and a dark green Palmetto tree is centered but appears to be on the right hand side. In the upper portion the leaves are indicated with 4 points on the left, 3 on the top and at minimum 1 point on the right, but it is impossible to tell if there are more due to the fact that the right side of the flag is gone. Throughout the leaves are six blank spaces in the midst of the green, three on each side. There are six spikes on the trunk of the tree, three on each side and a base on the bottom. 



IMAGE 2 of 2: Brigadier General Pierre G. T. Beauregard Portrait


A portrait painting of Brigadier General Pierre G. T. Beauregard.  This painting shows Beauregard from mid-thigh up with the core of his body facing toward his right and his head and eyes facing the center. He has dark hair that is brushed and is pushed off of his forehead, dark eyebrows that are above eyes that are staring forward. He has a dark mustache that extends beyond the edges of his mouth and a goatee below his lower lip.  He is wearing a dark navy blue, almost black, long coat, which is called a frock coat, that is made of wool. This coat has a stand up collar that goes to mid-neck with his white shirt barely visible above. On each of his shoulders there are shoulder boards, or  epaulette, that indicates his rank. These shoulder boards have tassels that hang off.  Down the front of the coat is a double row of brass buttons, 8 can be seen. These buttons differ from Anderson's uniform. The buttons are in sets of two with a space and then another set. Beauregard's arms are crossed with his right arm over his left along his midsection. Along his waist is a sword belt and buckle situated in the middle with a yellow sash beneath the belt. The sash is most visibly seen on Beauregard's left hip where it flows down beside his sword which is along his left thigh. The photograph is cropped from a painting and is overlaying the previous picture and the Palmetto flag.


Collection of City Hall, Charleston SC


Brigadier General Pierre G. T. Beauregard commanded Confederate forces at Charleston, South Carolina, in March and April 1861 and again from August 1862 to May 1864. He had been one of Anderson’s artillery students at West Point in 1837 and, while determined to evict the Federal troops from Fort Sumter, did not welcome the prospect of firing on his old friend and former instructor. After Anderson surrendered on April 14, 1861, Private John S. Bird Jr. of the Palmetto Guards raised the unit’s six- by nine-foot flag over the captured fort.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Fort Sumter and the coming of the Civil War

On December 20, 1860, South Carolina delegates to a special secession convention voted unanimously to secede from the Federal Union. In November, Abraham Lincoln had been elected President of the United States with no support from southern states. The critical significance of this election was expressed in South Carolina’s Declaration of the Immediate Causes [of] Secession: “A geographical line has been drawn across the Union, and all the States north of that line have united in the election of a man to the high office of President of the United States, whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery.” The Declaration claimed that secession was justified because the Federal Government had violated the Constitutional compact by encroaching upon the rights of the sovereign states. As the primary violation, the Declaration listed the failure of 14 northern states to enforce the Federal Fugitive Slave Act or to restrict the actions of antislavery organizations. “Thus the constituted compact [the U.S. Constitution] has been deliberately broken and disregarded by the non-slaveholding States, and the consequence follows that South Carolina is released from her obligation.” The Declaration expressed South Carolina’s fear that “The slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy.”

The South Carolina Declaration shows how national arguments related to state sovereignty arose from questions about the nature and expansion of slavery. Competing interests were evident at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 when the Founding Fathers were unable to effectively deal with the national problem of slavery. Unable to resolve the issue, it was put off for future generations. The lack of either a clear Constitutional recognition of chattel slavery or a provision for leaving the Union meant that both issues would be passionately debated. In the early years of the republic slavery became more entrenched and vital to the southern economy even as it was slowly dying out in the northern states.

As the country expanded, regional conflict centered on the extension of slavery into new American territories. Included in the arguments was the fate of enslaved African Americans fleeing from the South. Over decades, North and South tried and failed to reach agreements on geographic boundaries for slavery, the recapture of runaways, and the status of free blacks living throughout the nation. National political parties, religious denominations, and even families divided over these issues.

In the months between Lincoln’s election and his inauguration, as Lower South states proclaimed secession, efforts at compromise continued. Southern Unionists and their northern supporters believed that the Union could be restored without war if only the southern states had guarantees that the Federal Government would not interfere with their slave property. A Constitutional amendment guaranteeing the rights of slave owners was suggested, but Lincoln concluded that no plan of compromise would ever fully satisfy South Carolina, the state that led the South in defense of the rights of slaveholders and the right of secession.

Within six weeks after South Carolina’s secession, five other states—Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana—followed its example. Early in February 1861, delegates met in Montgomery, Alabama, adopted a constitution, set up a provisional government—the Confederate States of America—and elected Jefferson Davis as their president. By March 2, when Texas officially joined the Confederacy, nearly all the Federal forts and navy yards in the seven seceding states had been seized by the new government. Fort Sumter was one of the few that remained in Federal hands.

When South Carolina seceded, there were four Federal installations around Charleston Harbor: Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island, Castle Pinckney on Shute’s Folly Island near the city, Fort Johnson on James Island across from Moultrie, and Fort Sumter at the harbor entrance. The only post garrisoned by more than a nominal number of soldiers was Fort Moultrie, where Major Robert Anderson commanded two companies, 85 men, of the First U.S. Artillery. Six days after South Carolina seceded, Anderson concluded that Moultrie was indefensible and secretly transferred his command to Fort Sumter, a mile away. On December 27 South Carolina volunteers occupied Forts Moultrie and Johnson and Castle Pinckney, and began erecting batteries elsewhere around the harbor.

The state regarded Anderson’s move as a breach of faith and demanded that the U.S. Government evacuate Charles ton Harbor. President James Buchanan refused and in January attempted a relief expedition. South Carolina shore batteries, however, turned back the unarmed merchant vessel Star of the West, carrying 200 men and several months’ provisions, as it tried to enter the harbor. Early in March, Brigadier Genneral Pierre G. T. Beauregard took command of the Confederate troops at Charleston and pushed work on fortifying the harbor. As the weeks passed, Fort Sumter gradually became the focal point of tensions between North and South. When Abraham Lincoln assumed office as President of the United States on March 4, 1861, he vowed in a firm but conciliatory address to uphold the national authority. The Government, he said, would not assail anyone, but neither would it consent to a division of the Union. “The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government.”

By April 4 Lincoln believed that a relief expedition was feasible and ordered merchant steamers, protected by ships of war, to carry “subsistence and other supplies” to Anderson. He also notified Governor Francis W. Pickens of South Carolina that an attempt would be made to resupply the fort. After debate—and some disagreement—the Confederate secretary of war tele graphed Beauregard on April 10 that if he were certain Sumter was to be supplied by force “you will at once demand its evacuation, and if this is refused proceed, in such manner as you may determine, to reduce it.”

On April 11 Beauregard demanded that Anderson surrender Sumter. Anderson refused. At 3:20 a.m., April 12, the Confederates informed Anderson that their batteries would open fire in one hour. At ten minutes past the allotted hour, Captain George S. James, commanding Fort Johnson’s east mortar battery, ordered the firing of a signal shell. Within moments Edmund Ruffin of Virginia, firebrand and hero of the secessionist movement, touched off a gun in the ironclad battery at Cummings Point. By daybreak batteries at Forts Johnson and Moultrie, Cummings Point, and elsewhere were assailing Fort Sumter.

Major Anderson withheld his fire until 7 o’clock. Though some 60 guns stood ready for action, most never got into the fight. Nine or ten casemate guns returned fire, but by noon only six remained in action. At no time during the battle did the guns of Fort Sumter greatly damage Confederate positions. The cannonade continued throughout the night. The next morning a hot shot from Fort Moultrie set fire to the officers’ quarters. In early afternoon the flag staff was shot away. About 2 p.m., Anderson agreed to a truce. That evening he surrendered his garrison. Miraculously, no one on either side had been killed during the engagement. Only five Federal soldiers suffered injuries.

On Sunday, April 14, Major Anderson and his garrison marched out of the fort and boarded ship for transport to New York. They had defended Sumter for 34 hours, until “the quarters were entirely burned, the main gates destroyed by fire, the gorge walls seriously injured, the magazines surrounded by flames.” Civil war, so long dreaded, had begun.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Confederate Stronghold, 1863-1865

With Fort Sumter in Confederate hands, the port of Charleston became an irritating loophole in the Federal naval blockade of the Atlantic coast. In two months of 1863, 21 Confederate vessels cleared Charleston Harbor and 15 entered. Into Charleston came needed war supplies; out went cotton in payment. To close the port—and also capture the city—it was necessary first to seize Fort Sumter, now repaired and armed with some 95 guns. After an earlier Army attempt had failed on James Island, the job fell to the U.S. Navy, and Rear Adm. Samuel F. Du Pont was ordered to take the fort.

On the afternoon of April 7, 1863, nine armored vessels steamed slowly into the harbor and headed for Fort Sumter. For 2½ hours the ironclads dueled with Confederate batteries in the forts and around the harbor. The naval attack only scarred and battered Sumter’s walls, but the far more intense and accurate Confederate fire disabled five Federal ships, one of which, the Keokuk, sank the next morning.

When the ironclads failed, Federal strategy changed. Du Pont was removed from command and replaced by Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren, who planned to combine land and sea operations to seize nearby Morris Island and from there to demolish Fort Sumter. At a position secured by U.S. forces on Morris Island, Union troops under Major General Quincy A. Gillmore began to place rifled cannon powerful enough to breach Sumter’s walls. Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren and Major General Quincy A. Gillmore. Their combined attacks on Fort Sumter resulted in its November 1863. Meanwhile, Confederate laborers and slaves inside Fort Sumter worked day and night with bales of cotton and sand to buttress the walls facing the Federal guns. The fort’s garrison at this time consisted of five companies of the First South Carolina Artillery under Colonel Alfred Rhett.

Federal troops fired a few experimental rounds at the fort in late July and early August. The bombardment began in earnest on August 17, with almost 1,000 shells fired the first day alone. Within a week, the fort’s brick walls were shattered and reduced to rubble, but the garrison refused to surrender and continued to repair and strengthen the defenses.

Confederate guns at Fort Moultrie and other points now took up the defense of Sumter. Another Federal assault on September 9 fell short; this time the attackers lost five boats and 124 men trying to take the fort from Major Stephen Elliott and fresh Confederate troops under his command. Except for one 10-day period of heavy firing, the bombardment continued intermittently until the end of December. By then Sumter’s cannon were severely damaged and dismounted and its defenders could respond with only “harmless musketry.”

In the summer of 1864, after Major General John G. Foster replaced Gillmore as commander of land operations, the Federals made one last attempt to take Sumter. Foster, a member of Anderson’s 1861 garrison, believed that “with proper arrangements” the fort could be taken “at any time.” A sustained two-month Union bombardment, however, failed to dislodge the 300-man Confederate garrison and Foster was ordered to send most of his remaining ammunition and several regiments of troops north to aid Grant’s overland campaign against Richmond.

Desultory fire against the fort continued through January 1865. For 20 months Fort Sumter had withstood Federal siege and bombardment, and it no longer resembled a fort at all. But defensively it was stronger than ever. Big Federal guns had hurled seven million pounds of metal at it, yet the Confederate losses during this period had been only 52 killed and 267 wounded.

General William T. Sherman’s troops advancing north from Savannah, however, caused the Confederates to evacuate Fort Sumter on February 17, 1865. On April 14, with Charleston in Union hands, the U.S. flag that was lowered when the fort was surrendered in 1861 was once again raised above Sumter’s battered ramparts.

↑ back to top

MAP: Troop locations in Charleston Harbor, 1861–65 SHORT DESCRIPTION


The purpose of this map is to assist in understanding the cultural context of where confederate and Federal troops were located during 1863-1865. It is also beneficial in orientation to find the location of one of these fortifications to understand that the location of the forts in relation to one another to create a deeper understanding of how they worked together. 

This map is of the Charleston Harbor and portions of the surrounding barrier islands, as well as a portion of downtown Charleston itself, part of the Atlantic Ocean, Ashley River and Cooper River.  In red Confederate locations are shown and in blue federal locations are shown. Confederate locations include Castle Pinckney, 3 batteries on various islands, a floating battery, Fort Johnson on James Island, and Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island. Fort Sumter and Fort Wagner are a bit different, they are written in black with both red and blue written below to show that they were held by both forces at different times. Fort Sumter was in Federal hands in 1861 and in Confederate hands between 1861 and 1865. Fort Wagner was in Confederate hands from 1861 to 1863 and in federal hands btween 1863 and 1865. The Swamp Angel is located on Morris Island and was there in 1863 and an Ironclad Attack in the Atlantic Ocean on April 7, 1863. 

More detailed description will be available in the long description that follows. 

↑ back to top

MAP: Troop locations in Charleston Harbor, 1861-65 LONG DESCRIPTION


The purpose of this map is to assist in understanding the cultural context of where confederate and Federal troops were located during 1863-1865. It is also beneficial in orientation to find the location of one of these fortifications to understand that the location of the forts in relation to one another to create a deeper understanding of how they worked together.

The key shows that the orientation of this map is north with a key showing how far 2 kilometers and 2 miles is in the bottom left. On the top right is a key indicating that text written in red shows Confederate locations and text written in blue indicates Federal locations. 

This is a small rectangular map that shows the Charleston Harbor in the center with portions of the surrounding barrier islands of Sullivan's Island to the east, Morris Island to the south and James Island to the Southwest, land to the right of downtown to the Northeast, and a portion of downtown Charleston itself to the northwest. The Ashley River runs to the left side of the downtown area and goes into the harbor and the Cooper River is on the right side of the downtown area. Near where the Cooper Rover and the Charleston Harbor meet is a small island that contains Castle Pinckney written in red showing that it is a Confederate site. On the land to the right there is a battery written in red showing that it is a Confederate site. On the farthest left point of Sullivan's Island is a floating battery written in red and a little further right is Fort Moultrie, also written in red showing that they are Confederate sites. Below that is the Atlantic Ocean. In the lowest portion of the Atlantic Ocean is a spot written in blue saying Ironclad attack April 7, 1863 and a blue dotted line that shows the main ship channel.  

Moving to the left side of the map there is James Island taking up a large portion of that side and where it touches the harbor you can see Fort Johnson and a battery just below it  written in red showing that they are Confederate sites. 

Morris Island is just below James Island and in the central portion the "Swamp Angel" 1863 is seen written in blue showing that it is a Federal site. Just before you get to the end of the island Fort Wagner is written in black and below that the years 1861-1863 are written in red and the years 183-1865 are written in blue. On the Northern most point of Morris Island is a battery written in red and the name Cummings Point written beside. 

In the mouth of the harbor with the Atlantic on one side and Morris Island and Sullivan's Island on the other side is Fort Sumter written in black. Below that written is Federal 1861 in blue and Confederate 1861-1865 in red. 

↑ back to top

IMAGES: John A. Dahlgren and Quincy A. Gilmore

IMAGE 1 of 2: John A. Dahlgren 


This is a historic, black and white, oval sketch portrait of Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren. His body is angles to his right with his head facing the center. He has thin straight hair that shows a receding hairline that is parted to the left of his head. Furrowed eyebrows are over eyes that focus straight forward. He has a long, thin nose and a thick mustache over a tightly drawn mouth. His sideburns extend the full length of his jaw. He appears to be wearing a dark officer's cape with a white shirt poking out over the straight collar beneath. 



IMAGE 2 of 2: Quincy A. Gilmore


This is a historic, black and white, oval sketch portrait of Major General  Quincy A. Gillmore. His body is angles to his right with his head also facing in that direction.  He has dark curly hair and a receding hairline with a widow's peak. His thick dark eyebrows are furrowed over eyes are facing towards the center, staring off into the distance. His mouth is covered by a dark mustache, full beard, and sideburns that is well groomed. He wears a dark uniform, similar to Anderson's uniform with a dark coat with a stand up collar that goes to mid neck with a white shirt peaking out over the top. on his left shoulder, which is the only one visible, is a shoulder strap that is a rectangle with a white boarder and a star in the center. Down the front of his body are two rows of buttons.


Rear Admiral John A. Dahlgren and Major General Quincy A. Gillmore. Their combined attacks on Fort Sumter resulted in its November 1863.



↑ back to top

IMAGES: John A. Johnson and Fort Sumter


IMAGE 1 of 2: John A. Johnson


This is a historic, black and white, oval sketch portrait of Major John A. Johnson. His body is slightly angled to his left and his face is facing forwards. His dark hair is pushed up and parted to the left side of his head. His thinner eyebrows are on top of soft eyes that are gazing forward. He has visible laugh lines above his mustache, which is attached to a well manicured beard with sideburns and a goatee situated in the center. He is wearing a light jacket with a lay down collar and a single star on this right lapel. below the jacket he is wearing a light shirt with a button on his right side close to the neck and another light shirt beneath with a stand up collar and a dark cravat, or neck scarf, tied and is barely visible between the shirts.



IMAGE 2 of 2: Fort Sumter illustration


On the upper portion of this painting is a light sky with wispy clouds.A light colored painting showing a battered Fort Sumter extending the center of the frame. The Fort does not have a lot of visible brick walls, but there is a large pile of light brown rubble situated in the center of what little walls remain. On the far left of the frame beside the fort is what looks like some wooden rubble. The lower portion of the painting shows water that is reflecting the ruined fort and light sky. In the middle of the water, if if they are coming towards us is a row boat carrying 4 men and one man standing on the nearby land with a rope in his hands that is attached to the rowboat. The land that the man is standing on is dirt trodden. 


Fort Sumter withstood all Federal efforts to batter it into submission, thanks largely

to chief engineer Major John A. Johnson and the workmen under his command.


Architect of the U.S. Capital 

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: Back side of brochure

Black barrier on top of page that reads Fort Sumter Today. Below that the page is divided into three distinct sections. The upper most section contains three images that are from the 1870s, 1901, and the 2000s showing different parts of the fort's history after the Civil War. Below the images is a section of text that chronicles the history of Fort Sumter from the end of the Civil War to modern day.

The middle section includes the section that provides basic information such as hours of operation, boat information, safety and contact information. Beside that is a descriptive walking tour of Fort Sumter with numbers indicating certain areas with a corresponding diagram.

The third section on the bottom contains a drawing that depicts Fort Sumter as it would have looked in 1861.

↑ back to top

TEXT: Fort Sumter today

IMAGE and TEXT: Fort Sumter in the 1870s


This black and white photograph shows a ruined brick wall of Fort Sumter which extends the entire length of the picture. The remains of the lower-tier casemates, or arched gun rooms, can be seen through the rubble. The left most casemate is easily discernible with a visible arched roof. 

At the extreme right of the picture, a lighthouse sits above the ruined wall of Fort Sumter at the angle. This squat lighthouse with an angled rectangular base has two windows inside the structure. The lighthouse has a wider base and gets narrower as it gets taller. One window is several feet higher than the lower window. They are symmetrical. The top platform is circular with an enclosed railing. The top of the light, where the Fresnel lens is located, is enclosed and circular. 

To the left, atop the top, flies the US flag from a tall white flagpole.

In the foreground there is a sandy beach with tidal surf coming onto the beach in the lower right hand corner of the picture. 

Library of Congress


This photograph of Fort Sumter was made in the early 1870s, after the U.S. Army had begun to clear away the rubble from the Civil War years in an attempt to make the fort once again serviceable as a coastal defense. It shows Sumter’s right flank and the remains of the lower-tier casemates, just starting to emerge from the ruins. The lighthouse was built in 1865 at the right shoulder angle where the fort’s right face and right flank meet. Its appearance changed over the years as it was moved to facilitate reconstruction work. The lighthouse was finally demolished in 1948.

↑ back to top

IMAGE and TEXT: Battery


This black and white photograph shows a gun crew of ten visible artillerymen loading a 12-inch rifle on Battery Huger, a concrete structure. 

The foreground of the photograph shows a metal railing. In the right hand corner of the picture, there is a staircase leading down from the level on which the 12-inch rifle is located. There is a pole at the angle where the railing turns at a right angle towards the top of the staircase. This tall white pole partially obstructs the view of the 12-inch rifle about halfway down the length of the gun. 

The 12-inch rifle is mounted on a fixed gun carriage, which sits on a raised concrete gun mount. The gunmount is in the shape of a circle, fitting into a semicircle cut out of the larger concrete structure. The barrel of the 12-inch rifle is above the parapet. 

Six male uniformed artillerymen stand at the breech of the gun, atop a fixed platform. The platform has two angled ladders on either side, which each have 8 rungs. The men closer to the breech of the gun on the platform are working together, holding an implement, likely a rammer. A few paces away from the ladder, below the gun mount, stands an artilleryman at attention with erect military bearing. A few paces to his right and behind him lie artillery implements, leaning against an open chest. 

Standing on the gun carriage, towards the back of the gun, is an artilleryman with a range-finding device pressed to his eye. We see his back. Facing the back of the gun, underneath the barrel of the 12-inch rifle, near where the gun mount meets the wall, stand two men. 


National Archives 


The massive concrete Spanish-American War structure known as Battery Isaac Huger has dominated the entire central section of Fort Sumter since 1899, when the battery was completed. Like the fort in which it stands, it was named for a South Carolina hero of the Revolutionary War. The photo at left, taken in 1901, shows one of the two long-range 12-inch rifles that made up the battery’s armament. Its companion gun, located where the Museum stands today, was called a “disappearing rifle.” It was visible over the parapet when firing, with the recoil causing it to “disappear” into a recessed area behind the parapet for reloading. Both guns had a maximum range of 9¾ miles. 

↑ back to top

IMAGE and TEXT: Fort Sumter today


This aerial color photograph shows a birds-eye view of Fort Sumter, the island on which it sits, the surrounding waters of the harbor, and the sandbar to its south. 

The aerial perspective shows the remaining bottom tier of the fort's historic brick walls. The pentagonal shape is obvious. The salient, or point of the pentagonal fort, faces the lower left hand corner of the image. The lower right hand corner of the image shows the dock extending out further into the water. The picture shows that the dock meets a paved walkway near the current sally port, or entrance, of the fort on the left flank wall. The left flank wall appears as the rightmost wall in this image given the orientation of the image. The brick walls of the fort and the land in front of the left flank wall have rip-rap, large strewn rocks, on the waterline to protect the fort from high water levels. 

The left flank wall through which a visitor would enter is first covered in enclosed casemates, or arched gun rooms, with white roofs. Further inside the fort, there is a grassy open area, called the parade ground. A few cannon can be seen on the parade ground near the left face wall, which extends from the left flank wall to the salient. 

Inside the brick structure of the historic fort, there is a massive concrete gun emplacement, Battery Isaac Huger. Battery Huger has two enclosed levels. Its top, or parapet, is in the open air. Battery Huger has an open air gun pit on its right on the second level. Battery Huger's left side has a brick roof where an open air gun pit once existed. 

Around the corner of the salient, there is a roofline of casemates extending along the right face of the fort. Where the right face ends, there is a staircase leading up to a grassy observation deck atop the fort. Between the right flank wall, which runs between the right face wall and the gorge wall on the back of the fort, and Battery Huger is earth fill with a grassy lawn. Sitting atop the observation deck there is a semicircle of 5 flagpoles, displaying historic US and Confederate flags as well as the state flag of South Carolina. This semi circle crowns, can be seen above, a focal point flagpole. This flagpole with a thicker, granite base is taller and flies the current 50-star US flag.

Surrounding the front walls of the fort is open tranquil, dark blue water. 

Behind the gorge, or back wall, of the fort is a piece of land with grass and taller clumps of vegetation. Extending past this natural area is a partially exposed sandbar, which takes up most of the top right corner of the image.  




Fort Sumter today bears only a superficial resemblance to its original appearance. The multi-tiered work of 1861 was reduced largely to rubble during the Civil War. Battery Huger, built across the parade ground at the time of the Spanish-American War, dominates the interior.

↑ back to top

TEXT: From wartime ruin to national monument

When the Civil War ended, Fort Sumter presented a very desolate appearance. Only on the left flank, left face, and right face could any of the original scarp wall be seen. The right flank wall and the gorge wall, which had taken the brunt of the Federal bombardments, were now irregular mounds of earth, sand, and debris forming steep slopes down to the water’s edge. The fort bore little resemblance to the impressive work that had stood there when the war began in 1861.

During the decade following the war, the Army attempted to put Fort Sumter back into shape as a military installation. The horizontal irregularity of the damaged or destroyed walls was given some semblance of uniformity by levelling jagged portions and rebuilding others. A new sally port was cut through the left flank; storage magazines and cisterns were constructed; and gun emplacements were located. Eleven of the original first-tier gunrooms at the salient and along the right face were reclaimed and armed with 100-pounder Parrott guns.

From 1876 to 1897 Fort Sumter was not garrisoned and served mainly as a lighthouse station. During this period maintenance of the area was so poor that the gun platforms were allowed to rot, the guns to rust, and the area to erode. The impending Spanish-American War, however, prompted renewed activity that resulted in the construction of Battery Huger in 1898 and the installation of two long-range 12-inch rifles the following year. Fortunately, the war ended quickly and the guns were never fired in anger.

During World War I, a small garrison manned the rifles at Battery Huger. For the next 20 years, however, although maintained by the Army, the fort was not used as a military establishment. But it did become a destination for tourists until World War II brought about the fort’s reactivation. The Battery Huger rifles, long since outmoded, were removed about 1943. During late World War II, 90-mm antiaircraft guns were installed along the fort’s right flank and manned by a company of Coast Artillery. In 1948, transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service, Fort Sumter became a national monument. The following guide highlights the main historical portions of the fort today.

↑ back to top

TEXT: About your visit

Fort Sumter National Monument is in Charleston Harbor and can be reached only by boat. The fort is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily between April 1 and Labor Day. At other times of the year the hours vary; call 843-883-3123. Tour boats operated by a National Park Service concessionaire leave from the Fort Sumter Tour Boat Facility at Liberty Square in downtown Charleston. Liberty Square is located on the Cooper River at the eastern end of Calhoun Street and includes the South Carolina Aquarium For boat schedules, call 843-883-3123.

↑ back to top

TEXT: for your safety

While every effort has been made to make your visit safe and enjoyable, you must remain alert and cautious in all areas of the fort. Be especially careful on stairways and uneven surfaces.

↑ back to top

DIAGRAM and TEXT: A walking tour of Fort Sumter


This is an illustrated map of Fort Sumter that is designed to guide visitors as they walk around the fort. The map shows the five sides of the fort with key features that are numbered and listed under the section entitled A walking tour of Fort Sumter. Other features that are displayed on the map include walkways, restrooms, the Fort Sumter museum, the flag pole, the powder room, and Battery Huger, pronounced yu g, in the center of the fort. The five sides of the fort are listed outside the outline of the fort and include right flank, right face, left face, left flank, and gorge wall.      


For those who wish to inspect the fort at their own pace, this text, keyed to the fort plan at right, describes a short tour of both ruins and exhibits. By comparing the fort plan and the painting of the fort as it appeared on the eve of the Civil War, you will gain a better understanding of how the Fort Sumter of today compares to the Fort Sumter of 1861.

1 Sally Port:

The left-flank wall here is less than half its original height. This entryway was built in the 1870s and replaced a gun embrasure.

2 Confederate Defenders Plaque:

The Charleston Chapter, United Daughters of the Confederacy, erected this plaque in 1929 to honor the Confederate de fenders of Fort Sumter, 1861–65.

3 Left-Flank Casemates:

The first tier of casemates (gunrooms) was surmounted by a second tier similar in appearance but considerably taller. This pattern was also followed on the fort’s right flank and on its right and left faces.

4 Enlisted Men’s Barracks Ruins:

Paralleling the left-flank casemates, this three-story building had a mess hall on the first floor and sleeping quarters on the upper floors. There was another barracks for enlisted men on the right flank.

5 Officers’ Quarters Ruins:

Three stories high, this building extended the entire length of the gorge. In it were lodgings for officers, administrative offices, storerooms, a guardhouse, and powder magazines. For an  unknown reason, the powder magazine in this corner of the barracks exploded on December 11, 1863, killing 11 and wounding 41 Confederates. The explosion also tilted the arch over the entrance to the magazine.

6 Union Garrison Monument:

The U.S. Government erected this monument in 1932 in memory of the Union defenders during the opening bombardment of the Civil War.

7 Parade Ground:

When Battery Huger was built in 1899, the remainder of the parade was filled with sand. The National Park Service removed fill 20 feet deep from this area in the 1950s.

8 Left-Face Casemate Ruins:

The leftface casemates were destroyed by the fire of Union guns on Morris Island, 1863–1865. Several of the projectiles still protrude from the wall. Outside the casemate ruins are two 15-inch Rodman guns, an eight-inch Columbiad, and a 10-inch mortar.

9 Right Face:

Union forces on Morris Island fired these 11 100-pounder Parrott guns against Fort Sumter. The Army moved them to the fort in the 1870s.

10 Right-Gorge Angle:

From a gun in the first-tier casemates, Captain Abner Doubleday fired the first shot from Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.

11 Mountain Howitzer:

Confederates used light field pieces like this 12-pounder mountain howitzer to defend against a surprise landing by Union forces.

12 Esplanade and Granite Wharf Site:

A 25½ -foot-wide promenade ran the full length of the gorge exterior, and a 171-foot wharf extended out from the sally port. This was the original entrance to the fort.

To help preserve the fort, we ask that you not climb or sit on cannons or brickwork. Do not disturb or remove artifacts.

↑ back to top

IMAGE AND TEXT: Fort Sumter, 1861


This image is a large drawing that is showing what Fort Sumter would have looked like in 1861. The fort is surrounded by water and there are grey rocks along the edge of the fort's walls.  When describing the pentagon from this point forward, the technical names for the walls will be used and they are labeled on each wall are as followed. When picturing a pentagon there are two sides that are angled and come to a point. The wall to the left of that point is called the left face and the wall on the right is called the right face. A straight line down from each of those angled walls is are two parallel walls that are called the left and right flank in relation to the left and right face. Connecting the left flank and right flank is a long wall that is called the gorge. Where each of these walls meet there is a flat angle. The left flank wall is a long wall that is is most easily seen from the outside with the left flank and right face seen, but more at an angle. From the outside there are nine cannon holes along the bottom of the left and right face wall. It can be said that they are cannon holes because on the right portion of the left face there is a cut out that exposed part of the fort interior with cannons, the tracks that the cannons are rotated on with people behind each. The left flanks has eight cannon holes visible. On the two visible angles that are seen between the walls there is one cannon hole. Above each of the exposed cannon holes on all visible outside walls are a bricked up square. On the interior corners of the angles between the right face and right flank, right face and left face, left face and left flank there is an eight sided stair tower, which is labeled, that has eight pained windows and a door that opens up to the upper level that is home to more cannons and tracks. There are four cannons on the top of the left face wall that are spread out and not next to one another. the left flank is almost full and hosts six cannons. The right flank is more difficult to see, but eight cannons can be barely seen.  

Along the interior of the fort's right flank and left flank wall are three levels of enlisted men's barracks which extend above the exterior walls. The barracks along the right flank has seven windows on the top two levels and six on the bottom, the other space where a seventh window would be is a door the third from the left on the left half and the third from the right on the right side. This is repeated on the other side because right down the middle of the barrack is a bricked up portion. The barracks along the left flank the side that touches the exterior wall seven windows and six doors that alternate that open up to the upper level of the wall to where the cannons are. Along each end of the barracks is a chimney and two taller ones in the middle. Along the back gorge wall there are the officer's quarters. it is also three levels high which extend above the exterior walls. The building is constructed in a similar manner that the enlisted men's barracks are. In the the middle of the officer's quarters is an arched doorway that is called a sally port.  On the outside of the fort as if it is coming to the Sally Port is a  Granite Wharf, which is written.

The interior of the fort includes the name Parade Ground. Below those words is a pile of dirt. To the right of the pile of dirt there are two boxes of what looks like dirt and a platform. Near the corner between the left face and flank walls there is an American flag that is on a wooden pole with three supports along the base. There are five people inside the fort on the parade ground, two close to the enlisted men's barracks on the right flank wall and three near the Sally Port. 


NPS/L. Kenneth Townsend


Its five-foot-thick brick walls towered approximately 50 feet above low water to command the main ship channel. Four sides, 170 to 190 feet long, were designed for three tiers of guns; the gorge, mainly officers’ quarters, mounted guns only on the third tier. Enlisted men’s barracks paralleled the gunrooms on the two flanks. A sally port pierced the center of the gorge, opening onto a wharf. The fort was designed for an armament of 135 guns and a garrison of 650 men. By December 1860 Fort Sumter was 90 percent completed, standing empty, with only 15 cannon mounted and ready.

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: Accessibility

This brochure does not address sccessibility issues.

↑ back to top

OVERVIEW: More information

Fort Sumter National Monument is one of over 400 areas in the National Park System. To learn more visit,


1214 Middle Street, Sullivans Island, SC, 29482





Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

National Park Foundation.

Join the park community,

↑ back to top

By using this site, you agree to follow our Terms, Conditions, License, Privacy Policy, and Research Protocols.