Fort Sumter, a tiny island fortress in Charleston Harbor, is the site where the Civil War began. The first shots fired in 1861 were by the Confederate army, they blasted Fort Sumter until it surrendered a day-and-a-half later. Over the next four years the fortress was reduced to rubble in battles and was not abandoned until Sherman marched his army through the South on his way to Atlanta in 1865.
I’ve read quite a bit about the South and the Civil War, but most of my knowledge is about the war in and around Virginia and Pennsylvania, what I know about the South is mostly gleaned Gone With the Wind. I loved being able to wander around the island, see the massive canon that were used to fire on ships, other islands, and the city of Charleston. I am still amazed at how large those guns are and their range is impressive.
After Fort Sumter was blown to bits, it was never rebuilt. What remains is the foundations of what used to be a several-stories high building that housed troops and supplies for weeks on end. It makes the broken walls and shattered bricks all the more eerie, imagining hundreds of men living and fighting in layers on top of you.
My visit at Fort Sumter was fairly short, but as there is very little to see–the whole island is really covered by the ruins of this fort and a small museum–I didn’t mind. A massive rain storm was rolling in and I was more than happy to get back on the ferry and back to (below sea-level) land before that tropical storm hit in full force. If you go, you have to buy your ferry tickets separately and probably in advance, they tend to fill up quickly via online sales, especially in peak tourist seasons.
Also, I think it’s time I refocus some of my Civil War reading on areas and battles farther south, I was embarrassed at how little I knew. (I’m a nerd. I know. It’s part of my charm.)
Thank you so much!
On behalf of my geeky husband, Gone With the Wind is a terrible book when it comes to understanding the truth about the Civil War. (But it’s an amazing book otherwise!) Usually the victors write the history, but somehow the South managed to write the history of the Civil War period, which is why we have the Myth of the Lost Cause. Most Southerners now will tell you that the South never had a chance, and it was, well, a lost cause to begin with. But that doesn’t match up with the actual historical records. Slavery (not industry or “states’ rights” WAS the primary cause of the war. A couple of books he would recommend if he were sitting by me right now – Battle Cry of Freedom and The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History. The second is a series of essays by different historians.
Oh, I am well aware that Margaret Mitchell is not the be-all end-all for history of the South. I’ve read a lot of great non-fiction/histories of the Civil War in the North, and several first-person narratives from escaped slaves. I just didn’t realize that I hadn’t read non-fiction of the Civil War in the South. Thanks for those recommendations! I will certainly check them out.
On Wed, Nov 4, 2015 at 9:03 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:
I’ve been to Fort Sumter, as well, but I must say your pictures are much better than mine. 🙂
Well, that’s about the best compliment ever. 🙂
On Thu, Nov 5, 2015 at 5:21 AM, Feisty Harriet wrote:
This is very timely… I just closed out several tabs of searches for rentals in Charleston! I may end up there in April, so you can bet I will be checking this out if so 🙂
I have zero hotel recommendations, but I really really loved Boone Hall (THE TREES!!!) and the ferry ride to Fort Sumter was delightful, and the tour was just so different than anything I’ve ever done (tour ruins, tour a battle site, tour an entire island, etc etc etc).
I wished I’d had time to visit the Angel Tree and Sheldon Church. So, please do BOTH of those things, and then tell me all about it. 🙂
On Thu, Nov 5, 2015 at 3:33 PM, Feisty Harriet wrote: