The Flag Over Fort Sumter

By | Apr 14, 2011

The first shots of the American Civil War were fired upon Fort Sumter at Charleston, South Carolina. Those first confederate shots began on April 12, 1861. Thirty-four hours later the fort surrendered.

The Union garrison was turned over the fort to the southern Confederate government at 2:30 PM on April 14. As part of the surrender agreement, Union commander Major Robert Anderson was allowed to raise the flag for a 100 gun salute. The salute was shorten to 50 guns due to an accidental explosion. Anderson then lowered the Fort’s 33 star union flag and carried it with him as he and his men marched out of the fort.

Anderson and his men were placed on the steamship Baltic to be taken north to Union territory. Once on board it was decided to raise the flag Anderson had taken from Fort Sumter. Under the flag they left port on April 15.

During the war the flag was used as a patriotic rally symbol. At New York’s Union Square, Anderson with the flag was greeted with a rally of more than 100,000 people on April 20, 1861. From that date until the end of the war the flag was taken across the north and used to raise funds for the war.

On April 14, 1865, four years after the union flag was taken down from Fort Sumter, the flag and Anderson returned to the Fort. As part of a celebration of the Union’s victory, Anderson raised the flag over the remains of the fort.

Since 1970 six flags have flown over Fort Sumter each day. The current 50 star flag of the United States, plus five that represent the time line of the fort. The other five being The United States flags of 1861 and 1865, the Confederate States flags of 1961 and 1863 and the the flag of South Carolina.


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