Fort Sumter

The nation exploded in civil war on April 12th, 1861, when the Confederates fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. In this episode, we’ll examine the choices made in the secession crisis that caused the first shots to be fired. We’ll travel to Charleston to study its strategic importance, learn about the military and its commanders, and see how the siege and bombardment of Fort Sumter unfolded.

Compete video with Ed Bearrs

From Moultrie to Sumter by General Abner Doubleday

Abner Doubleday was a United States officer in Fort Sumter during the bombardment, firing the first northern shot of the war. During the rest of the conflict he rose to the rank of Major General. After the war he wrote several accounts of its history including an article for Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, a running column in The Century Magazine from 1884 – 1887 were they published an article on all the major battles of the war by the important men of the engagement, often the leading commanders themselves. Robert Anderson having died in 1871, Doubleday wrote an article on Sumter. Read it here on

Reminiscences of Forts Moultrie and Sumter by Abner Doubleday

Doubleday also wrote full length books, including one on his time in Charleston Harbor. Read it here online, or download a PDF.

Inside Sumter in ‘61 by Captain James Chester

Another article on Sumter in the Battles and Leaders series was by James Chester, promoted to Captain during the war.

Jefferson Davis: The Real and the Unreal by Joseph McElroy

Joseph McElroy’s biography of Jefferson Davis is readable and non-partisan. However, it is out of print. Find a copy on