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  • The Battle of Fort Sumter was the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina, that started the American Civil War. Following declarations of secession by seven Southern states, South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon its facilities in Charleston Harbor. On December 26, 1860, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surreptitiously moved his small command from the indefensible Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island to Fort Sumter, a substantial fortress controlling the entrance of Charleston Harbor. An attempt by U.S. President James Buchanan to reinforce and resupply Anderson, using the unarmed merchant ship Star of the West, failed when it was fired upon by shore batteries on January 9, 1861. South Carolina authorities then seized all Federal property in the Charleston area, except for Fort Sumter. During the early months of 1861, the situation around Fort Sumter increasingly began to resemble a siege. In March, Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard, the first general officer of the newly formed Confederate States of America, was placed in command of Confederate forces in Charleston. Beauregard energetically directed the strengthening of batteries around Charleston harbor aimed at Fort Sumter. Conditions in the fort grew dire as the Union soldiers rushed to complete the installation of additional guns. Anderson was short of men, food, and supplies.

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