4¢ Firing on Fort Sumter
Civil War Centennial Issue
Issue Date: April 12, 1961
City: Charleston, SC
Printed By: Bureau of Engraving and Printing
Printing Method: Rotary press
Perforations: 11 x 1.5
Color: Light green
Bombardment of Fort Sumter Starts Civil War
Fort Sumter was the site for the first fighting of the Civil War. The fort is located on Sullivan’s Island at the entrance to the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Construction of the fort began in 1829, and was still in progress in 1861, when the Civil War began. The fort was named after Thomas Sumter, a hero of the American Revolution. On April 28, 1948, the fort was made a national monument.
When South Carolina seceded from the Union in 1860, plans were made quickly to seize the U.S. forts in the Harbor at Charleston, S.C. – Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter. The forts were under the command of Major Robert Anderson. Anderson had established his command at Fort Moultrie, but moved to Fort Sumter for its superior defenses.
Fort Sumter was of little strategic importance to the U.S. It was incomplete, and all 60 of its guns faced the sea. However, it became a symbol of national unity. To President Lincoln, giving up the fort meant accepting secession. After demands for surrender, Confederate forces began a fierce bombardment of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Two days later, Union forces evacuated the fort. The Confederates allowed Anderson and his men to leave with their flag and weapons. Union forces regained control of Fort Sumter in February 1865.