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April 12, 1861

Perry, Part of Charleston Harbor..., c1861

Perry, Part of Charleston Harbor..., c1861

Foster, Sketch showing position of besieging batteries, 1866

Foster, Sketch showing position of besieging batteries, 1866

On April 12, 1861, the first salvos of the American Civil War were fired with the bombardment of Fort Sumter, situated in Charleston harbor, South Carolina, by Confederate guns. Unable to reply effectively the commanding officer, Major Anderson, surrendered on April 13. As shown on an 1861 map published by George T. Perry entitled Part of Charleston Harbor, embracing forts Moultrie, Sumter, Johnson, and Castle Pinckney, also Sullivan, James & Morris islands, Fort Sumter was situated in the middle of Charleston Harbor and, by April 1861, was one of the last Federal outposts in the region.

On January 28, 1861, almost three months prior to the bombardment of Fort Sumter, George T. Perry deposited this map to satisfy copyright requirements. The map was formally accessioned into the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, then housed in the United States Capitol, on February 12, 1862. Perry provides the following description of the newly completed forts in Charleston Harbor on his map:

“Forts Moultrie and Sumter, are situated on opposite sides of the entrance to Charleston Harbor, and completely cover and command it. Fort Moultrie is on or adjacent to the land and dwelling houses and other buildings are being erected close up to the walls o the Fort.”

“Fort Sumter (under the command of Major Anderson), is built in the water, one thousand yards from the land. It can only be attacked, therefore, from watercraft. It is just finished and is one of the strongest works in the world; mounted with thirty-two-pound cannon and one hundred rounds of ammunition per gun, It is covered bomb-proof and can only be attacked by the embrasures, which an attacking force must crawl through on at the time, and hence two men at one of these could defend it against five hundred.”

The name “Rebellion Road”, found in Charleston Harbor on both maps, predates the Civil War and refers to a ship channel or anchorage.

Map Citations

Perry, George T. Part of Charleston Harbor, embracing forts Moultrie, Sumter, Johnson, and Castle Pinckney, also Sullivan, James & Morris islands; and showing the position of the Star of the West, when fired into from Morris Island. Philadela., Lith. P.S. Duval & Son, c1861. 1 map, 35 x 48 cm.
Catalog record: http://lccn.loc.gov/99448818

Foster, John. Sketch showing position of besieging batteries. [Fort Sumter] April 12-13, 1861. Bowen & Co., lith., Phila. [Washington, Government Printing Office, 1866]
Catalog record: http://lccn.loc.gov/99448835

References

Stephenson, Richard. Civil War maps : an annotated list of maps and atlases in the Library of Congress / compiled by Richard W. Stephenson. Washington: Library of Congress, 1989.
Catalog record: http://lccn.loc.gov/88600031