History of Fort Sumter

A pivotal moment time in this Nation’s history began on at 4:30 a.m. on April 12th, 1861. The first shots were fired on Fort Sumter and thus began the American Civil War. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later and Union forces tried for nearly four years to take it back. Learn more about this amazing historic site as you cruise Charleston’s harbor, and upon arrival at the fort, are greeted by National Park Rangers. Walk in the steps of those who shaped this nation.

For example, did you know? The first shot of the American Civil War was a 10-inch mortar shell, fired from Fort Johnson on James Island that you cruise by on your way to Fort Sumter. The mortar shell exploded above Fort Sumter signaling Confederate artillery to fire openly upon the Union-held Fort. Fort Sumter’s friendly National Park Rangers are a wealth of such knowledge and can answer all of your questions about Fort Sumter National Monument.

Fort Sumter Tours provides the only boat cruise that stops at historic Fort Sumter and allows Visitors to personally experience this thought-provoking National Monument. Come aboard the Tour Boat that can take you on the memorable journey to Fort Sumter while providing spectacular views of the Battery, Charleston harbor, the Cooper River Bridge, the aircraft Carrier Yorktown and much more.  Eastern National bookstore, located on the second level of the fort, offers books and other educational items relating to the interpretive themes of Fort Sumter. Take home a souvenir that is both informative and memorable.

flags at fort 2Fort Sumter evokes different emotions in different people. For everyone, American citizen or foreign visitor… it represents the beginning of the bloodiest and most divisive conflict in American history. A Civil War that pitted countryman against countryman, and brother against brother. Yet somehow from its ashes the country arose united and stronger because of it. As Ken Burns, director of the award winning PBS series, The Civil War, said, “The Civil War was the greatest event in American history, where, paradoxically, in order to become one, we had to tear ourselves in two.”

The war that began at Fort Sumter evokes reflection upon the noblest of human ideals such as duty, honor, freedom, sacrifice and valor. Yet it also harkens contemplation of baser aspects of the human condition such as slavery, suffering, political turmoil and death. The birthplace of the Civil War will always be a focal point in the American psyche because it did so much to expose and define us. Different people may draw different meanings from the conflict and what gave it birth, but its birthplace – Fort Sumter – will always be venerated.

Fort Sumter Tours is the recipient of a 2013 “Certificate of Excellence” awarded by TripAdvisor. Harbor Tours depart from Liberty Square’s Aquarium Wharf or Patriots Point in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Children in your group? They will likely be dubbed “Junior Rangers” while waiting to board the boat. Fun and informative facts will be given in a Program Booklet that delights both parents and children. The Ranger will go over the  Program Booklet, and kids can receive a Fort Moultrie Junior Ranger badge and certificate!

A visit to Fort Sumter National Monument will provide unlimited Photo opportunities for you, your guests or family members. The beauty of seeing historic Charleston, SC from the water perspective or sighting dolphin accompanying your boat to Fort Sumter are unmatched experiences. The images captured while touring a site so key to this Nation’s story will be important keepsakes. As you walk the grounds of Fort Sumter you will find five replicas of historic flags that regularly fly over Fort Sumter plus the current United States flag. These represent a timeline of Civil War flags at the fort from 1861-1865.

A recent Visitor provided this Testimonial:  “Originally from the Midwest, we took the informative Fort Sumter Tour when first transferred to Charleston, years ago, to learn about the history and environs. Returning again recently with family from the Midwest reminded us how powerful this experience is and what an amazing piece of America’s history. Our young cousin won “Best Essay” in her entire Middle School when required to relay vacation experiences visiting historic Charleston, South Carolina. This honor was heavily due to the history she experienced, first-hand, on the Fort Sumter Tour.” Jack Kern

Fort Sumter Tours is proudly owned and operated, for over 50 years, by a local Charleston family with generations of maritime heritage.  Fort Sumter Tours is an authorized National Park Service Concessioner operating the only commercial U.S. Coast Guard approved boat transportation to Fort Sumter National Park.