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Fort Sumter

Moon Charleston & Savannah, 8th edition

IT WAS THE man once credited as the father of baseball, Abner Doubleday, who threw out the North’s first pitch in the American Civil War. Captain Doubeday was responding to a 10-inch mortar shell lobbed at Fort Sumter from the South-held Fort Johnson. This was in Charleston, South Carolina, on the morning of 12 April 1861, when federal-held Fort Sumter refused to surrender to the Confederates. That led to Johnson’s salvo, Sumter’s response and the start of the war.

“Today,” says the 8th edition of Moon Charleston & Savannah, “the battered but still-standing Fort Sumter remains astride the the entrance to Charleston Harbor on an artificial 70,000-ton sandbar, being part of the Third System of fortifications ordered after the War of 1812.”

Fort Sumter (www.nps.gov/fosu) is now a U.S. national historic monument. The only way to reach it is on a boat run by Fort Sumter Tours (www.fortsumtertours.com) from either Liberty Square in downtown Charleston or Patriots Point, across the harbour in Mount Pleasant. The boat costs, but “at the fort, there’s no charge for admission.”

The Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square provides background context on the war. “Once at the fort, you’ll be enlightened by the regular ranger talks on the fort’s history and construction.” Budget at least 2 1/2 hours for the whole trip, says the guidebook, adding that visitors may be disappointed that many of the fort’s gun embrasures were bricked over during the Spanish-American War.

“For many, the highlight is the boat trip itself, with beautiful views of Charleston Harbor and the Cooper River estuary.”

 

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