Fort Sumter was built after the war of 1812 as one of a series of coastal port defenses and named after a Revolutionary war hero, General Thomas Sumter. But it entered history as the site of the first shot of the Civil War.
It is built on a constructed island formed of 70,000 tons of granite shipped from New York and Vermont. The newly created island was allowed to settle for several years before the brickwork began.
Some day I will summarize the causes of the Civil War and the events leading up to the firing on Fort Sumter, but the brief list is:
This is not a good place. This is Andersonville.
Between February, 1864 and the end of the Civil War Camp Sumter confined Union prisoners of war. Forty-five thousand came here, but only thirty-two thousand left. Thirteen-thousand died of malnutrition, exposure and rampant disease – a 29% death rate.
During the fourteen months Camp Sumter held prisoners, it was known as “Andersonville.”
This trip has been for planned two years. It was originally set for 2021, but Covid closed all the national parks and many campgrounds, so I headed west that summer.
I had visited the Civil War “Western Front” in 2020 — along the Tennessee, Cumberland and Mississippi rivers — Forts Donelson and Henry, Shiloh, Corinth and Vicksburg. This trip will pass through the Eastern front with stops at battlefields from Savannah to Gettysburg.
A Bit of Background
My maternal grandfather was born in the summer of 1863 in Louisiana. His father, a confederate soldier, was home on a 30-day furlough in 1862, and the following summer, while great-grandfather was fighting at Vicksburg, grandfather was born.