The First Shot
Across the harbor directly in front of you lies Fort Johnson. From Fort Johnson came the shot that began the Civil War.
If a Union soldier at Fort Sumter looked toward Fort Johnson at 4:30 a.m., April 12, 1861, he would have seen an ominous flash as a mortar fired. The shell arched high across the sky, and upon reaching Fort Sumter, burst almost directly overhead. That mortar shot from Fort Johnson was the signal for Confederate batteries around Charleston Harbor to open fire on Fort Sumter. The Civil War had begun.
(Caption under Illustration at Right):
South Carolina troops man batteries at Fort Johnson, April 12, 1861. After Fort Johnson's opening shot at 4:30 a.m., all the Confederate batteries opened fire and bombarded Fort Sumter for 34 hours, firing more than 3,000 shells. Fort Sumter fired back with little effect.
The Union commander, Major Robert Anderson, would not risk his men on Sumter's open parapet to man the largest guns. On April 13, Confederate shelling endangered Fort Sumter's powder magazine and Anderson surrendered.