Fort Sumter Tours Blogs

Fort Sumter Tours – April blog – 2019

Did you know? Fodor’s is a publisher of English language travel and tourism information and the first relatively professional producer of Travel Guidebooks. Fodor’s Travel  writer Kristy Alpert released “Have you been to all 15 of America’s Top Landmarks?” online April 12, 2019. Fort Sumter was included as one of the top fifteen of all American Landmarks!

  • The Statue of Liberty
    In 1886, presented to the United States as a gift from France, Lady Liberty is a near-universal symbol of freedom and democracy, standing 305 feet and 6 inches high on Liberty Island.
  • Hoover Dam
    The mighty Colorado River is held back by this massive feat of Engineering. Hoover Dam creates hydroelectric power and helps provides water for seven states and a portion of Mexico.
  • The Freedom Trail
    Follow the footsteps of America’s forefathers. This path winding thru central Boston leads past locale where the real drama that brought about the American Revolution occurred.
  • Gateway Arch
    Visit this iconic structure in America’s heartland and you are standing beneath what was the Gateway to the West. From the top, get great views of St. Louis and the might Mississippi.
  • Independence Hall
    George Washington was appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army here, and the site is where the Constitution was ratified. The Declaration of Independence was signed here. Visit this awe inspiring Hall, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
    Golden Gate Bridge
    1937 saw the completion of this triumphant suspension bridge. Built to withstand 100 mph winds and withstand earthquakes, the Golden Gate Bridge connects San Francisco with Marin County.
  • Mount Rushmore
    You cannot miss the 60 foot high likenesses of Presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt carved into a massive granite cliff. Illuminated at night, is America’s most famous Memorial.
  • The Alamo
    Who could forget? The former Franciscan Mission is a monument to the 13-day siege in 1836 where 200 Texan Volunteers fought and died. Though the Texans lost the battle, they ultimately won their bid for independence with “Remember the Alamo” as their battle cry.
  • The National Mall
    Our nation’s Capitol is anchored by Washington’s Mall surrounded by such notable landmarks as the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial , WWII Memorial, the and the Vietnam Memorial, to name just a few. Dozens of fabulous Museums nearby.
  • Fort Sumter ~ by Kristy Alpert, Fodor’s Travel
    The first shots of the Civil War were fired on this fort on a man-made island in Charleston’s The 34-hour battle that ensued would result in defeat for the Union and turn Fort Sumter into a symbol of Southern resistance. Today the National Park Service oversees it, with Rangers giving interpretive talks. Fort Sumter Tours is the only National Park Concessioner allowed to dock at Fort Sumter National Historic Park.
  • Fort Jefferson National Monument
    Originally intended as a barricade from the Gulf of Mexico, Fort Jefferson was never fully completed due to lack of supplies during the Civil War, where the Fort served as a makeshift prison. Boasting more than 2,000 arches, the National Monument is one part of the seven keys of Dry Tortugas National Park.
  • Wright Brothers National Memorial
    Two brilliant brothers from Ohio, Wilburn and Orville are the reason we have modern Aviation today! Thanks to the Wright Brothers we also have their American Landmark Memorial. 12 seconds of powered flight off of the windy shores of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, where they ran their flight test after swapping out their Bicycle Shop changed the course of mankind!
  • Belle of Louisville
    650 guests for two-hour lunch and dinner cruises enjoy the Ohio River for the chance to float back through time. Built in 1914, the Belle of Louisville remains the oldest operating steam-powered boat in the United States. Experience the important, bygone era of Steamboat travel.
  • Grand Ole Opry
    Country Music’s most iconic artists have played the Grand Ole Opry since 1925 when it was home to a local radio broadcast. It has since grown into one of the most sought after stages for Live Entertainment. Nashville’s pride has launched many a Grammy Award winning artist!
  • Hearst San Simeon State Historical Monument (a.k.a. Hearst Castle)
    Newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst used ‘San Simeon’ as a home and playground for entertaining Hollywood elite between 1919 and 1947. Now converted into a museum and National Historic Landmark where visitors can tour the 46 guestrooms and the grounds, including the stunning Neptune Pool and the private theatre.

The National Park System is now in its second century and provides numerous avenues for Visitors to learn about, find and connect with America’s National Parks…all of which are national treasures. Fort Sumter is sure a National Treasure to experience!

Fort Sumter Tour’s fleet of commercial Tour Boats departs daily from Downtown Charleston or Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina to visit Fort Sumter National Park. A Fort Sumter Tour includes a 30-minute narrated cruise through Charleston’s famous harbor. The twin-spanned Ravenel Bridge is fantastic to see from waterside, as are, Charleston’s Rainbow Row Townhouses and stately Mansions along high Battery.

The first shots of the American Civil War were fired on Fort Sumter at approximately 4:30 a.m. on April 12th, 1861, igniting a conflict that saw more than 700,000 casualties. Visitor’s approximate one-hour tour of Fort Sumter allows ample time to explore well-preserved fort and browse Museum Shop souvenirs. On the return cruise, playful dolphins often accompany the boat! Experience Fort Sumter National Historic Park’s new Reservations and Ticketing System which launched February 1st, 2019 ~ it is User-Friendly!!

Fort Moultrie Visitor Center ~ 1214 Middle Street Sullivan’s Island, SC  29482

The first Fort on the site of Fort Moultrie was named Fort Sullivan. Fort Moultrie is technically a series of fortifications on Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina, built to protect the port city of (then, Charlestown) Charleston, South Carolina. The first Fort, inspired the flag and nickname of South Carolina, as “The Palmetto State” because it was built of sand and palmetto logs.

On June 28, 1776, the first Fort was still incomplete when Commodore Sir Peter Parker of the Royal Navy with nine British men-of-war attacked. After a nine-hour battle, the ships were forced to retire. Charlestown was saved from British occupation, and the Fort was then named in honor of its Commander, Colonel William Moultrie. This battle was one of the first decisive victories in the American Revolution. By the end of the war, Moultrie had been promoted to Major General. In May 1780 the British finally captured Charlestown, including Fort Moultrie, finally evacuating the city in December of 1782 as the Revolution entered its final year.

Fort Moultrie was neglected, following the American Revolution and by 1791 little of it remained. Then, in 1793, war broke out between Great Britain and France. The next year Congress, authorized the first system of nationwide coastal fortifications. A second Fort Moultrie, one of twenty new Forts along the Atlantic coast completed in 1798. The second Fort Moultrie was destroyed by the Hurricane of 1804. Just three years later, many of the other First System fortifications were in need of extensive repair. Congress responded by authorizing funds for a Second System, including a third Fort Moultrie. By 1809 a new brick Fort proudly stood on Sullivan’s Island. 1,000 men could occupy the fort. Palmetto logs were placed upon one another in parallel rows 16 feet apart. The logs linked together and the interior was filled with sand. This palmetto log and sand construction absorbed much of the shock of enemy fire.

For the next fifty years, little changed at the site of Fort Moultrie. Fort Moultrie was well situated to guard Charleston Harbor. Every ship sailing into Charleston Harbor came within range of the fort’s guns. Because of shoals at the harbor entrance, ships were forced to enter the harbor from the south and sail toward the fort on Sullivan’s Island. In this position, they could not fire on the Fort until they turned into the harbor.

A major addition to Charleston’s harbor defenses occurred with the construction of Fort Sumter at the harbor’s entrance. The forts ringing Charleston Harbor – Moultrie, Sumter, Johnson, and Castle Pinckney – were meant to complement each other, but ironically operated as opponents.

The Federal garrison abandoned Fort Moultrie for the stronger Fort Sumter in 1860 when South Carolina seceded from the Union. Just three and a half months later, Confederate troops shelled Fort Sumter into submission, plunging the nation into Civil War. Extensive destruction was done to Fort Moultrie during the April 12-13, 1861 Civil War bombardment. Though repaired, the Fort was heavily damaged by Union artillery during the 1863-1865 siege of Charleston. In response, Confederates used sandbags, logs, timbers and earth to cover and protect large sections of the Fort.

World Wars I & II brought new threats of submarine and aerial attack and required new means of defense at Fort Moultrie. As peacetime finally returned, the deactivation of Fort Moultrie following World War II demonstrated that fixed coastal Forts could not prevent invasion of a country. Aircraft carriers, landing barges, bombers and rockets made fixed fortifications obsolete.These armaments also became obsolete as nuclear weapons and guided missiles altered the entire concept of national defense.

Fort Sumter Tours  – BLOG August 2018

Visitors to Fort Sumter and its famous Parade Ground will see a commemorative plaque there inscribed, “In Memory of the Garrison defending Fort Sumter during the Bombardment”.
Fort Sumter’s construction began in 1829. Seventy-thousand tons of sand were imported from New England to shore up a sand bar at the entrance to Charleston Harbor. A five-sided brick structure, the fort remained unfinished thru 1861, when the Civil War broke out with the first shot being fired on Fort Sumter. Confederate artillery fired on the Union garrison of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 during the First Battle. These first shots of the Civil War continued throughout the day. The fort sits in Charleston’s famous harbor where locals like to say, “The Ashley & Cooper Rivers meet to form the Atlantic Ocean”. Due to the bombardment, the fort was cut off from supply lines and surrendered the next day.

The Civil War began with a 10-inch mortar shell exploding over Fort Sumter fired by the Confederates stationed at Fort Johnson on James Island. Despite a 34-hour bombardment, Fort Sumter had suffered no significant damage to its exterior walls, but the Enlisted men’s barracks and Officers’ quarters were gutted by fire.

The surrender ceremony began around 2:00 p.m., on April 14, 1861. On round 47 of a planned 100-gun salute, a gun discharged prematurely, killing Pvt. Daniel Hough. He was the first soldier to die in the Civil War that ultimately killed thousands and pitted brother against brother, in numerous cases. The salute was reduced to 50 shots. Pvt. Hough was buried on Fort Sumter’s Parade Ground. Around 4:00 p.m., Maj. Robert Anderson led his command out of Fort Sumter while the band played “Yankee Doodle.” Many Civilians watched with a celebratory spirit from Charleston’s High Battery Seawall and from boats in Charleston Harbor.

Just before the Union troops left the fort, the Palmetto Guard and Company B, South Carolina Artillery Battalion took up position on the Parade Ground. General Beauregard, Governor Pickens and other dignitaries entered the fort to raise the South Carolina and Confederate national flags. Although Anderson’s men had boarded a ship to take them to the relief expedition waiting outside the harbor entrance, they were forced to wait for the next morning’s high tide to leave the fort’s dock and begin their journey North. These distinguished gentlemen watching history unfold, listened while all around them boat whistles sounded, people cheered and cannons fired. The Confederacy had achieved its objective: Fort Sumter was taken. The long simmering debate over slavery and different ideologies of the North and South were about to come to a head with full-scale Civil War. There are still three cannon balls and one mortar shell embedded in the fort walls. Look for them in the walls directly in front of the cannon display on the Parade Ground.

“It was not until noon that the last landing was completed. Standing on the crumbled and demolished parapet, overlooking the dense crowd assembled in the Parade Ground, and viewing the fleet of gunboats and monitors and steamers lying but a short distance off, dressed in their brilliant regalia, the scene was beyond the touch of the painter’s pencil. In the centre of the Parade-Ground was the stand from which Rev. Henry Ward Beecher, the orator of the day, was to deliver his address. It was a slightly elevated platform, enclosed with boughs of myrtle, standing underneath a temple of liberty, festooned and entwined with bunting and wreaths of flowers. When the distinguished gentlemen who were to occupy the platform entered the Parade-Ground, they were received with jubilant demonstrations, It is estimated that at least 3,000 people were present, one-sixth being ladies.” April 18, 1865, Page 8 The New York Times Archives, From Our Own Correspondent, CHARLESTON, S.C., Friday, April 14, VIA BALTIMORE, Monday, April 17, 1865.

Fort Sumter was in ruins by the Civil War’s end. The U.S. Army rebuilt it first as a Military installation and later the fort was used as an unmanned lighthouse station. The concrete blockhouse-style was named “Battery Huger” in honor of the Revolutionary War General Isaac Huger. The Second Battle of Fort Sumter, in 1863, was a failed attempt by the Union to retake the fort. Although the fort was reduced to rubble, it remained in Confederate hands until it was evacuated.
Today, Fort Sumter is now a National Park. Fort Sumter Tours is the only National Monument Concessioner authorized to dock at Fort Sumter. Fort Sumter’s ground level historic Parade Ground, is accessible to all Visitors. A National Monument interpreter is available to provide a history talk and answer questions. Several interpretive wayside exhibits are located throughout this level.

Fort Sumter Tours  – BLOG July 2018

The Parrott Gun, also known as the Parrott Rifle, was a muzzle loading, rifled artillery weapon. To the lay person, these names are a bit ‘confusing’ as this weapon could be more easily visualized by the modern student of Civil War History were it called a ‘large cannon’!

The gun was invented by West Point graduate Captain Robert Parker Parrott. Parrott resigned from the service in 1836. Next, he became the superintendent of the West Point Foundry in Cold Spring, New York. Captain Parrott created the first Parrott Rifle (and corresponding projectile) in 1860 and patented it in 1861.The Parrott Rifle had a visible thick band of iron wrapped around the breech of the gun. The gun was longer than the Napoleon.

By summer 1863, Union forces became frustrated by the heavily fortified Confederate position at Fort Sumter. A switch was made to the 10-inch (250 mm) Parrott, along with several smaller cannons. Two 80-pounder Whitworths, nine 100-pounder Parrotts, six 200-pounder Parrotts, and a 300-pounder Parrott were deployed. The North believed the massive 10-in Parrott would finally smash through the previously impenetrable walls of the fort. Fort Sumter was the physical and emotional symbol of Confederate steadfastness.

The Washington Republican described the technical accomplishments of the 10-inch Parrott:

“The breaching power of the 10-inch 300-pounder Parrott rifled gun, now about to be used against the brick walls of Fort Sumter, will best be understood by comparing it with the ordinary 24-pounder siege gun, which was the largest gun used for breaching during the Italian War.” The Parrott Rifle was also called ‘The 300-pound solution’ by the Union Army.

The Washington Republican, August 12, 1863

“One of the most famous Parrott Rifles was the Swamp Angel, an 8-inch (200 mm) gun used by federal Brigadier General Quincy Adams Gillmore to bombard Charleston, SC. It was manned by the 11th Maine Volunteer Infantry Regiment.”

Parrott rifles were manufactured with a combination of cast and wrought irons. The cast iron made for an accurate gun, but was brittle and suffered fractures. A large wrought iron reinforcing band was overlaid on the breech to give it additional strength. The method of securing this band was the innovation that allowed the Parrott to overcome the deficiencies of these earlier models. It was applied to the gun red-hot and then the gun was turned while pouring water down the muzzle, allowing the band to attach uniformly. By the end of the Civil War, both sides extensively used the gun.

Before 1863, Civil War Cannon, ‘the Parrott Rifle’ had a 2.9” bore. Post 1863, its now 3” bore became standard military issue in the Union Army. The cannon had a straight barrel without muzzle swell and its range was up to 2,000 yards.

Although accurate, as well as cheaper and easier to produce of the rifled artillery guns of the day, the Parrott had a poor reputation for safety and they were shunned by many artillerists. In 1889, The New York Times called on the Ordinance bureau of the War Department to discontinue use of the Parrott Gun following a series of mishaps at the West Point training grounds.

Cadwalader Park has a memorial ‘Swamp Angel’, i.e. a damaged Parrott Rifle in Trenton, New Jersey. The gun was moved there following the Civil War. Several hundred Parrott Rifle tubes remain today, many displayed in battlefield parks, county courthouses and museums identified by WPF (West Point Foundry) Insignia. Resources include civilwaracademy.com and militarywiki.com.

Fort Sumter Tours June BLOG

Fort Sumter Tours –  ‘Sunset at Fort Sumter

June officially kicks-off Summer and is a great month to cruise in Charleston’s picturesque harbor. Gently lapping waves and sea breezes compliment the warm, Southern evenings.

Locals and summer travelers, alike will enjoy the popular Sunset at Fort Sumter Tour. This Tour is also a great photographic opportunity. The ‘Sunset at Fort Sumter’ Tour cruises on Friday evenings, March 30th to October 19th, 2018. Add nature’s glorious sunset display to an already amazing historic experience by Fort Sumter Tours including yummy Southern BBQ and your entire party will be delighted!

The experience is rich. It is educational, moving and patriotic visiting the site where the 1st shot of the Civil War occurred. The cruise out and back to Fort Sumter National Monument is as remarkable as walking the Fort itself. Visitors experience The Atlantic Ocean inlet that is Charleston Harbor and the waterside view of Charleston’s peninsular antebellum mansions.

A delicious Menu is served on the return cruise from Fort Sumter. Beer, wine and cocktails are available for purchase at the cash bar while underway, to and from the Fort. Sticky Fingers BBQ is locally famous! You will love sampling Southern Pulled Pork or Backyard Chicken with a variety of tasty, zesty sauces. The ‘Q’ is accompanied by Southern-Style Cole Slaw, Baked Beans and traditional Mac & Cheese. Wrap-up these Southern delights with Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter or Sugar Cookies.

The ‘Sunset at Fort Sumter’ Tour departs from 340 Concord Street, Liberty Square in downtown historic Charleston, South Carolina. Board 5:00pm and return 7:30pm. Fort Sumter Tours operates the only tour boat that is an authorized National Park Concessioner allowed to dock at the Fort. The Tour is 2 ½  hours with roughly an hour at the Fort.

Tickets are limited for the popular Sunset at Fort SumterTour. Book in-advance to be sure you have your spot onboard! Adults: $48, Seniors: $46, Children: $35.

Advance reservations are recommended and can be made online or simply call 843-722-BOAT. Cancellations with refunds accepted up to 48-hours in-advance. Walk up reservations are welcome at the gate on a space available basis. Parking is easy at nearby Aquarium Wharf garage. Spectacular Eastern seaboard sunsets will not disappoint!

Fort Sumter Tours – BLOG May 2018

Fort Sumter Tours offers Visitors a narrated ferry boat ride through Charleston Harbor departing from Liberty Square in downtown historic Charleston, South Carolina or Patriots Point Terminal in Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina. Fort Sumter Tours operates the only tour boat that is an authorized National Park Concessioner allowed to dock at the Fort. The Tour is 2 ¼ hours with roughly a 1 hour stop at the Fort. Narration, Lectures and Question/Answer sessions are with knowledgeable, informative National Park Rangers.

Visitors board a comfortable Ferry Boat Tour with concession snacks and drinks available for purchase. The experience is rich. It is educational, moving and patriotic. The site where the 1st shot of the Civil War occurred. The cruise out and back to Fort Sumter National Monument is as memorable as walking the Fort itself. Visitors experience the Atlantic Ocean inlet that is Charleston Harbor, also part of the Intracoastal Waterway sheltered by Sullivan’s Island. Fort Sumter sits at a prominent Harbor entrance and the junction of two rivers that flow on each side of Peninsular Charleston. “The Ashley and Cooper Rivers” meet to form the Atlantic Ocean, joke locals. The Photo-ops of historic Charleston from the water perspective are fantastic!

As your Ferry pulls away from the dock, enhance your cruise experience by accessing the Travel App on your iPhone, iPad or iPodTouch! Fort Sumter Tours mobile App takes the cruise through Charleston’s historic harbor to the next level. The interactive App gives an Overview, 360 degree Tours, Postcard Photo and more sharables. The Viewfinder feature locates the key points of interest viewed from the Ferry. Simply hold your device out and it will find the key sites and allows users to learn more!

Arthur Ravenel, Jr. Bridge – Cable-stayed, twin-spanned bridge connecting peninsular Charleston to Mt. Pleasant, SC. The new bridge opened July 16, 2005.

USS Yorktown & Patriots Point – The 10th Aircraft Carrier in the United States Navy is docked at fascinating Patriots Point and open to public tour. She was a key player in the Pacific offensive that defeated Japan in WWII.

Fort Moultrie – On Sullivan’s Island, the original palmetto log Fort was begun in 1776 to guard Charleston’s harbor.

South Carolina AquariumEducates Visitors on the inhabitants of the water environments in South Carolina from the Mountains of the upstate to the coastal Lowcountry adjoining the Atlantic Ocean.

Rainbow Row – Brick and stucco row houses, painted in a rainbow of Caribbean pastel colors, are a famous Charlestonian photo-op.

Charleston’s High Battery – A fortified seawall, at the Southern Tip of Charleston peninsula, graced by a seaside promenade, park and historic nearby mansions.

Castle Pinckney – Major General Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Revolutionary War Officer and Ambassador to France, commissioned the building of the 2nd Fort on the site, 1797. An 1804 Hurricane demolished the Fort and it was rebuilt with masonry.

Fort Sumter Walk the site where the 1st shot of the Civil War was fired. Approaching Fort Sumter, sailboats running adjacent to the Ferry Boat provide beautiful photo-ops. Often Visitors will capture friendly dolphin accompanying their cruise!

 

Today's Departures: (See Year Round Departure Times)
Liberty Square Patriots Point
11:00 am 1:00 pm
2:30 pm
Old South Carriage and Fort Sumter Tour
$74
Online Only!