Battle of Ft. Sumter
Currier & Ives
Bombardment of Fort Sumter,
Charleston Harbor, April 12 and 13, 1861
Hand-colored lithograph, ca. 1861
Prints & Photographs
Copyright deposit, ca. 1861 (42B.1)
In 1860, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the
United States. As more states followed suit and the Confederate
States of America took shape, many federal installations in the
South were taken over by state governments. Fort Sumter, in the
harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, continued to fly the U.S.
flag, even as Confederate forces surrounded it. Lincoln decided
to resupply the fort but not reinforce it, unless resistance was
met. After negotiations failed, the first shot was fired on April
12, 1861, in a bombardment that resulted in the fort's surrender.
With that shot the Civil War began.