Historic Markers Across South Carolina

Star of the West

Marker ID:  
Location: At Fort Sumter, Ft Sumter NP, Charleston, SC
County: Charleston
Coordinates: N 32° 45.120    W 079° 52.455
  32.752    -79.87425


Morris Island, across the water directly in front of you, was the scene of the Civil War's first hostile cannon fire, preceding even the bombardment of Fort Sumter.
By January 1861, Union troops occupying Fort Sumter were surrounded by Southern defenses. To reinforce Sumter, President James Buchanan secretly sent the unarmed coastal steamer Star of the West to Charleston. But news of the mission arrived first, and when Star of the West appeared, a South Carolina battery opened fire from Morris Island. Their outdated guns did little damage, but when the guns of Fort Moultrie fired, Star of the West retreated, abandoning the mission.

Star of the West carried two hundred men, provisions, small arms and ammunition. Hoping to avoid arousing Southern anger, President Buchanan sent the sidewheeler instead of a warship.

A South Carolina battery fires on Star of the West. Among those firing were Citadel cadets. To this day Citadel cadets proudly claim to have fired the "first shots" of the Civil War.


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