Everyone knows it was the Confederate artillery that shelled Fort Sumter for 36 straight hours starting the war in April 1861. But the Union artillery later shelled the Confederate position at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor off and on for a period of twenty-two months between 1863 and 1865. Even today, the walls of the fort reveal artillery shells embedded into the brick wall. Those are Union shells still visible today.
The siege began in earnest on April 7, 1863 when the fort was attacked by Union gunboats commanded by Rear Admiral Samuel Francis du Pont. The attack included nine ironclad ships of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. That attack failed. The Union tried again on September 8 and 9, 1863 when they attacked the fort. Again the attack failed, as it was poorly planned. The Union suffered 132 casualties. The Confederates suffered none. After that, the Union just continued to bombard the fort, causing more and more damage to the outer walls.
The shells hitting the fort were fired from rifled cannons. This enabled the Union artillery batteries much more range and accuracy than seen earlier in the war. Most of the firing during this siege was made from Morris Island or from Union gunboats in the harbor. The battering of the shells destroyed most of the gorge wall and the face wall of the fort. The wall today at the fort is low due to the former fifty foot high wall being reduced to rubble.
In spite of the constant shelling of the fort, the Confederates never surrendered. The Confederates evacuated their position on February 17, 1865 when General Sherman and his men marched through South Carolina. The federal government took possession of Fort Sumter again on February 22, 1865.
The fort today is operated by the National Park Service. It is accessible only by tour boat from the dock in Charleston, South Carolina.
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