After 20 months of Federal ironclad and shore battery bombardment, Charleston’s fortifications were held. In February 1865 General Sherman commenced his march through South Carolina, and Confederate forces evacuated Sumter. Click for more.

A plaque marks the original sally port, and a reconstructed sally port leads to the first-tier casemates (gunrooms). From this emplacement Capt. Abner Doubleday fired the first shot from Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.


The park’s visitor center and one of the departure locations for ferries to Fort Sumter are located in Liberty Park, a nice waterfront public park that’s easy walking distance from Charleston’s Historic District. Exhibits explain how growing sectionalism and strife erupted into the American Civil War at Fort Sumter and beyond.

The fort’s history begins in the 1820s when construction began on the artificial island in Charleston Harbor. By the time of the Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1860, it was only partially completed. Its five sides and armaments could accommodate only a garrison of about 650 men.

The Army tried to put the fort back into service in the decade after the Civil War. It leveled jagged sections of the walls; built cisterns and storage magazines; reconstructed the first-tier casemates (gunrooms); and added 11 100-pounder Parrott guns on the right face. This gun emplacement is a replica of the original one that fired the first shots of the Civil War.

Visitor Center

If you’re taking a ferry to Fort Sumter, be sure to arrive early at the Visitor Center on Liberty Square. Exhibits here set the scene for your trip, explaining the events that led up to the first shots fired in April of 1861 and the ensuing Civil War.

The fort had been designed in the 1820s as a bastion of coastal defense, with five sides and room enough for 650 men and 135 guns. But it was unfinished by the day Union commander Major Robert Anderson moved his 85-man garrison into it on December 20, 1860, setting in motion events that would tear the nation apart four months later.

Riding to Fort Sumter National Monument Visitor Center is easy with Moovit. Use our all-in-one app to get better directions, cheaper prices, and faster travel times. Moovit is trusted by over 1.5 million users, including over 590,000 users in Charleston Central. Check out our free app and website today! A great place to also visit is Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens.

Self-Guided Tours

If you love history and want to visit the place where America’s deadliest war began, consider a tour from Fort Sumter National Monument. This is the only company in Charleston that offers a full guided tour of the fort as well as a ferry ride to get there.

Decades of growing strife erupted into civil war on April 12, 1861, when Confederate artillery opened fire on this Federal fort in Charleston Harbor. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later, igniting the conflict that would become known as the American Civil War.

After boarding your ferry at Liberty Square or Patriot’s Point, you have about an hour to explore the well-preserved fort ruins and museum. Afterward, board the ferry for the return ride and enjoy the tranquil scenes of the city on your way back to the mainland. The ferry trip is 30 minutes each way and runs multiple times throughout the day. During the voyage, you will pass Castle Pinckney on Shutes Folly Island which controversially flies a confederate flag.

Boat Tours

For those wishing to learn more about the history of Fort Sumter and how it triggered America’s bloodiest war, consider booking a tour with one of the local providers that offer ferries out to the island. The tour includes a park ranger-led introduction to the history of the Fort and is a great way to see the USS Yorktown, Charleston Harbor, the Ravenel Bridge, and more!

The experience begins with a 30-minute boat ride out to the island. The ferry is large and offers guests a chance to enjoy views of the city from both sides of the harbor as they sail, as well as see Fort Moultrie, Patriots Point, and the buildings and steeples that line Charleston’s waterfront.

Once on the island, guests are given an hour to explore and learn about the events that led up to the beginning of the Civil War. Once the tour is over, be sure to head to the museum and spot the tattered US flag that was smuggled out in secrecy just before the fort was captured by the Confederacy. Browse the next article.


Driving directions from Ketchum Roofing & Windows LLC to Fort Sumter National Monument

Driving directions from Fort Sumter National Monument to Folly Beach County Park

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