Historic Markers Across South Carolina

Fort Moultrie

Marker ID:  
Location: At Fort Sumter, Ft Sumter NP, Charleston, SC
County: Charleston
Coordinates: N 32° 45.141    W 079° 52.475
  32.75235    -79.87458333


Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter controlled Charleston harbor.

Fort Moultrie, on Sullivan's Island directly in front of you, had been an early harbor defense and was the site of Charleston's famous Revolutionary War palmetto-log fort. Fort Sumter was built here on a shoal opposite Fort Moultrie when America strengthened its seacoast defenses after the War of 1812. Charleston's main ship channel passed between the two forts. Enemy ships venturing there would be trapped in a crossfire of cannon.
With the surrender of Fort Sumter in 1861, Union forces evacuated, leaving Charleston's defenses in Confederate hands. The South effectively controlled the harbor from 1861-65 despite Union blockade and bombardment, and the port of Charleston remained open to daring blockade runners supplying the South.
Major Robert Anderson assumed command of Union forces at Fort Moultrie in November 1860, on the eve of the Civil War. The Kentucky-born major was the son of a Revolutionary War defender of Charleston.
This 1863 map illustrates the strategic importance of For Moultrie and Fort Sumter in controlling the entrance to Charleston Harbor; the narrow main ship channel passed between the two forts. The currents of Charleston Harbor are constantly shifting, and today's channel differs from that of the 1860s.
Major Robert Anderson secretly evacuated Fort Moultrie on the night of December 26, 1860, moving his command to Fort Sumter. South Carolina had seceded from the Union six days before, and Anderson relized that his eighty-five men could not hold Fort Moultrie against attack. The move infuriated the secessionists, who felt that all harbor forts belonged to South Carolina.


More information:
Wikipedia - South Carolina in the American Civil War
Wikipedia - Fort Sumter
Wikipedia - Fort Moultrie
Wikipedia - Charleston, South Carolina in the American Civil War