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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