Fort Sumter: Family Day Trip in South Carolina History

Located in the middle of the Charleston Harbor, Fort Sumter marks the start of “The War Between the States” (as it is called here since was nothing “civil” about it), when Confederate artillery opened fire April 12, 1861. Fort Sumter surrendered 34 hours later. Union forces would try for nearly four years to take it back.

Fort Sumter entrance signSeven millions of pounds of metal were furiously shot at it without success. Amazingly, the Confederate losses only counted 52 killed and 267 wounded. The fort suffered major destruction with the right flank wall and the gorge wall all but vanished. For the next 100 years it remains a garrison but with limited military significance.

In 1948 Fort Sumter was transferred to the National Park Service and became a national monument and a popular family attraction.

Things to know before you go
1. Fort Sumter is open year round except for New Years, Thanksgiving and Christmas Days. The fort is open 10:00 AM to 5:30 PM from April 1st to Labor Day, at other times call (843)-883-3123. Entrance to Fort Sumter is free, however you must pay for the ferry ride to get there. For more info see: Fort Sumter accessibility and visit hours.

Bridge to Fort Sumter Charleston2. You can access Fort Sumter by ferry or privately operated boats. The concessioned ferry leaves from two locations: Liberty Square (340 Concord Street in Charleston), and Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum (40 Patriots Point Road in Mount Pleasant). Tours usually depart every 2 hours and the ride takes about 30 minutes. The ferry has a snack bar and restrooms. For ticket info call 1-800-789-3678.

3. If you depart from Liberty Square make sure to visit the Charleston Aquarium; if you depart from Patriots Point, reserve 2 hours to explore the wonderful USS Yorktown aircraft carrier with its dozens of war planes, the submarine and the Congressional Medal of Honor Museum.

4. You can’t get to Fort Sumter from Fort Moultrie. Pets are not permitted at Fort Sumter or on the ferry. Pets accompanying private boaters must remain on the boat, and must not be left unattended.

Big Canons at Fort Sumter Charleston5. During the ferry ride you can capture amazing photos of the Charleston’s Harbor and Ravenel bridge, so make sure you bring your camera and plenty of batteries along.

6. Kids have fun checking out the big canons spread throughout the fort and chasing each other through the maze of tunnels.

Fort Sumter little beach

7. If traveling by ferry you will have about 1 hour to wonder around. Save yourself some hustle and bustle and conveniently get loose from the “family group” by sunbathing on the grass near the flags; you will enjoy breathtaking ocean views and can quietly soak in all the history around you.

See more family day of fun at Fort Sumter on this slideshow

Enjoy your vacation in South Carolina!

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5 Responses

  1. […] historic sites to see in the Charleston area are Fort Sumter (where the Civil War started), Fort Moultrie (where the Palmetto tree became our state symbol) and […]

  2. […] historic sites to see in the Charleston area are Fort Sumter (where the Civil War started), Fort Moultrie (where the Palmetto tree became our state symbol) and […]

  3. […] Fort Sumter: Witness the start of the Civil War. For nearly four years, seven millions pounds of metal were […]

  4. […] Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor where the Civil War started. Free admission, must pay for ferry to get […]

  5. […] Fort Sumter: Witness the start of the Civil War. For nearly four years, seven millions pounds of metal were […]

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