U.S. history redux: Explore the place where the Civil War began.. The Background April 12, 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. After passing the Ordinance of Secession, South Carolina demanded that all military installations be handed over to the Confederate army. When Union troops at Fort Sumter refused to surrender, Confederate troops opened fire. No one was killed in the 34-hour battle, but it marked the beginning of a war that would last four years and result in more than 600,000 casualties. By the time Union troops took back Fort Sumter in 1865, the fort's 50-feet-tall and eight-feet-thick walls had been reduced to rubble.
The Appeal The fort, rebuilt after the Civil War and used until WWII, is a fascinating step back in time. Many of the fort's original armaments are on display, and a small museum chronicles Fort Sumter's role in the war. Park rangers offer informative, free walking tours.