Fort Sumter National Monument

Fort Sumter National Monument

Activities & Programs

Outdoor Activities

At the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center (340 Concord Street, Charleston), Liberty Square offers a connection by the Cooper River where visitors may sit, rest, read and watch the harbor traffic in a very pleasant setting.

Fort Sumter is designated historic, so recreational activities are limited to passive pursuits such as scenic viewing and bird watching. Ranger talks are offered to each group of visitors who arrive by ferry. Wayside exhibits interpret the historic resources found throughout the site and the vistas visible from the observation level.

Fort Moultrie (1214 Middle Street, Sullivan's Island) can be toured using the self-guided brochure. Interpretive wayside exhibits are posted throughout the fort. By using these signs and the park brochure, visitors guide themselves through the fort traveling back in time from World War II to the Revolutionary War.

Ranger programs are offered from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend daily at 11:00 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Other outdoor activities include:
- Bird Watching
- Boating
- Fishing
- Kayaking
- Nature Walks
- Wildlife Viewing

Indoor Activities

At the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center (340 Concord Street, Charleston) extensive museum exhibits tell the story of growing sectionalism and strife between the North and the South, and how these problems ultimately erupted into civil war at Fort Sumter.

At Fort Sumter museum exhibits tell the story of the construction of the fort and island, the events leading to the April 12-13, 1861 battle, and the subsequent bombardment and reduction of Fort Sumter by artillery later in the war. The exhibits bring the history of the fort up to modern times. A small bookstore offers interpretive items relating to Fort Sumter's history. The rest of the site is primarily outdoors.

At the Fort Moultrie Visitor Center (1214 Middle Street, Sullivan's Island) museum exhibits trace the story of American seacoast defenses from 1776-1947. A 20-minute orientation film is offered on the hour and half-hour from 9:00 a.m. with the last film starting at 4:30 p.m. A bookstore offers interpretive items relating to Fort Moultrie's history. The rest of the site is primarily outdoors.

Visitor Education Center Exhibit

When the Civil War finally exploded in Charleston Harbor, it was the result of a half-century of growing sectionalism. Escalating crises over property rights, human rights, states rights and constitutional rights divided the country as it expanded westward. Underlying all the economic, social and political rhetoric was the volatile question of slavery. Because its economic life had long depended on enslaved labor, South Carolina was the first state to secede when this way of life was threatened. Confederate forces fired the first shot in South Carolina, and the federal government responded with force. Decades of compromise were over, and the very nature of the Union was at stake. Please take time to read the text of the exhibit that appears at the Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center at Liberty Square for more information on the events leading up to the first shots at Fort Sumter.

Museum Exhbit

The November 1860 election of Abraham Lincoln to the office of president marked the beginning of the chain of events that led to the secession of South Carolina from the United States of America. This was soon followed by secession of six more Deep South states. On March 4, 1861, Lincoln became the 16th President of a no longer United States. In his conciliatory address, Lincoln reiterated that he had no intention of interfering with slavery where it existed and added that is was the right of each state to control the "domestic institutions" within its borders. But he did not recognize the right of secession. He proclaimed that "the Union is unbroken," and that any act of violence against the United States was "insurrectionary or revolutionary."

On April 8, 1861, President Lincoln informed South Carolina's Governor that provisions were being sent by water to the Federal troops at Fort Sumter. Two days later, Confederate General Beauregard was directed to demand the fort's evacuation. If the Federals refused to leave, he was authorized to use whatever means necessary to force them out. Please take time to read the text of the exhibit that appears at the Fort Sumter Museum for more information on the events leading up to the first shots at Fort Sumter.