Fort Sumter National Monument


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Fort Sumter was built after the war of 1812 to protect Charleston Harbor. The construction began in 1829 but wasn’t yet finished when South Carolina seceded from the union in December of 1860. In April of 1861, Confederate forces fired on the Union soldiers occupying the fort, forcing their surrender in the first battle of the American Civil War.


The fort is on a man-made island in the middle of the harbor and so is only accessible by boat.  The NPS concessionaire offers a few 2.5 hour tours a day. It takes about 30 minutes each way to get there, leaving a little more than an hour to explore the fort and the museum housed there.


We were staying with cousins in their beach house nearby, so we decided to make the trip into Charleston to visit the fort. We arrived at the visitors center just in time to pick up our reserved tickets for the last tour and rushed onto the boat. We enjoyed the ride out to the island.


Once there, we perused the museum and helped the kids fill out their junior ranger booklets. They had more fun climbing on the cannons than anything else.


Once back in Charleston, we went inside the visitors center again for the swearing-in of our junior rangers. There are more museum exhibits in this facility, but the kids were done with history lessons for the day.


There is another fort, Fort Moultrie, which is a part of the Fort Sumter National Monument. It is older, dating back to the Revolutionary War, and is located on Sullivan Island. This island can be reached by car, but since we’d spent a full afternoon immersed in Civil War history, we did not visit this part of the park. Maybe next time 🙂


Location: 340 Concord Street, Liberty Square, Charleston, South Carolina

Designation: National Monument

Date designation declared: 4/28/1948

Date of my visit: April 2, 2010


9 thoughts on “Fort Sumter National Monument

  1. Your kids will remember the living history lessons you are giving them for the rest of their lives. My siblings and I still laugh at how in our camping trip across the US when I was 12, we stopped at every “Hysterical Monument” we passed, but we learned a lot – and it allowed us to miss a month of school when we extended the trip. Fort Sumter and the City of Charleston are wonderful examples of a challenging but unforgettable period in US history. Great post.

    1. Thanks Don! She does very well in her history classes, though I’m sure she would never admit to actually learning anything during these trips, lol. My Mom and Dad dragged us into every museum, fort, castle and historic cathedral we encountered on our travels and I’m glad because it has shaped the way I experience new places.
      Charleston was an interesting experience…that was the first time I recall hearing the Civil War referred to as the War of Northern Aggression.

  2. This is another one that’s on my “must see” list. As a Civil War buff, I’m disappointed in myself that I haven’t made it there yet. Thanks for the sneak peek of it!

  3. This brought back wonderful memories. As you might imagine, the monument was nothing like it’s present form when I was there in 1966. You took an ordinary boat out, and there was a Ranger on site to give you a perfunctory overview and answer any questions, but you were largely on your own, with only a few placards to illustrate the high-points. It was probably better than my 52-year old memories paint it, but I fell in love with Charleston the day I arrived, and was saddened the day I had to leave. A beautiful city with a rich history, and you’ve done the old dowager justice with your lovely pictures.

    1. Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed my post. There is a fairly extensive museum with artifacts inside the fort too that I didn’t photograph…too busy helping the kids find the answers to the junior ranger booklet 🙂

  4. Pingback: Fort Sumter and Moultrie Virtual Tour | National Parks With T

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