Charleston, S.C. was ensured a place in Civil War history when the first shots of the war were fired at Fort Sumter on April 12-13, 1861. From that moment the city would take on an important place in the psyches of both the Confederacy and the Union. Over the next four years suffering and destruction were visited on Charleston. The city was not only important symbolically as a hotbed of secession, but also strategically as one of the last ports that remained open for Confederate blockade runners. Despite the city being targeted for capture for nearly fours years it was not captured until the last months of the war.
Civil War Operations Against Charleston, S.C. I Photos
U.S. Civil War 150th Anniversary
A Currier & Ives rendering of the bombardment of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, April 12-13, 1861. The bombardment of Fort Sumter signaled the beginning of the Civil War. Library of Congress artwork Fort Sumter, S.C. in 1861 under the Confederate flag. Fort Sumter received over 3,000 artillery rounds during the Confederate bombardment from April 12-13, 1861. Fort Sumter would remain under Confederate control for almost the duration of the war. National Archives photo Confederate artillery pictured near Charleston, S.C. in 1863. Both the Union and the Confederacy spent significant amounts of resources in the fight to control Charleston. The city was strategically important as well as symbolic because it represented the place where the Civil War began. Library of Congress photo The "Marsh Battery" or "Swamp Angel" after the explosion, Aug. 22, 1863. The 8-inch Parrott rifle nicknamed the "Swamp Angel" was thrown forward on the parapet after bursting. The gun became the most famous Parrott rifle when it burst after shelling Charleston 36 times. Library of Congress photo A 200-pound Parrott rifle on Morris Island, S.C., 1865. Note the rear sight installed and the card game in progress. The Parrott rifle was an accurate artillery piece, but had a reputation as a safety hazard. National Archives photo The CSS Chicora, a Confederate ironclad ram, docked at Charleston, S.C. The Chicora spent the war defending Charleston Harbor from combined Union navy and army operations to capture the city. The Chicora also furnished the first crew for the Confederate submarine, H.L. Hunley. She was destroyed on Feb. 18, 1865 to prevent her capture by Union forces. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command photo Two 4.2-inch (30-pounder) Parrott rifles and stacks of shells inside Fort Putnam on Morris Island, S.C. during the campaign against Charleston Harbor. National Archives photo by Matthew Brady The officers of the USS Catskill posing on deck and atop the turret, while the ship was in Charleston Harbor, S.C., circa 1865. The commanding officer, Lt. Cmdr. Edward Barrett, is seated on the turret, in center. Note awning spread over the turret and conning tower, ship's bell mounted on the turret side, marks from Confederate shot hits on the turret armor, and additional armor plate laid on the deck. Guns on field carriages are 12-pounder Dahlgren howitzers. Turret gun to the right is an 11 in. Dahlgren smoothbore. The other turret gun is a 15 in. Dahlgren smoothbore. The USS Catskill spent the majority of her war service in attacks against Confederate forces defending Charleston, S.C. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command photo A battery of 70-pounder Whitworth rifled cannon on Morris Island, S.C. during the campaign against Charleston harbor, 1865. The Whitworths were part of a breaching battery firing against Fort Sumter. These Whitworths were captured by the U.S. Navy from the blockade runner Princess Royal and turned into a land artillery battery. The ineffectiveness of the Whitworths and a premature explosion that resulted in the death of four men in 1863 may explain these sailors demoralized appearance. Library of Congress photo A distant view of Fort Sumter from an unknown Union fort in 1865. Attempts to capture Charleston, S.C. would frustrate Union forces for much of the war. Fort Sumter and Charleston would only be captured after Gen. Sherman's advance through South Carolina forced the Confederacy to abandon the important port. National Archives photo by Matthew Brady Confederate torpedoes, shot, and shells in front of the arsenal, Charleston, S.C., 1865. The hasty withdrawal by Confederate forces ensured that scores of ordnance were left behind and captured by advancing Union forces. National Archives photo by Selmar Rush Seibert A captured David-class torpedo boat, possibly CSS David herself, taken after the fall of Charleston in 1865. The David was designed to operate low in the water like a submarine and carry a spar torpedo that would be detonated under Union warships. She attempted to break the Union blockade of Charleston by sinking the USS New Ironsides, USS Memphis, and USS Wabash, but failed to sink any enemy warships. Library of Congress photo by Selmar Rush Seibert A view of Fort Sumter from a sandbar in 1865, after years of bombardment. Compare this view to the earlier photograph of Fort Sumter shortly after its capture, to get a feel for the effects of artillery. A Union siege of Fort Sumter lasted from April 7, 1863 until its evacuation by Confederate forces on Feb. 17, 1865. Library of Congress photo Ruins in Charleston, S.C. Charleston was not spared from the destruction that was visited upon much of the Confederacy. The city spent much of the Civil War under attack from Union forces, but was not captured till the last months of the war. National Archives photo by Matthew Brady. View of the flag raising over Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, Charleston, S.C., April 14, 1865, with the arrival of Maj. Gen. Robert Anderson and guests. Four years to the day after the surrender of Fort Sumter by then-Maj. Anderson the very same U.S. flag was raised in triumph. Library of Congress photo