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Battle of Fort Sumter: Topics in Chronicling America

The American Civil War began with the bombardment of Fort Sumter in 1861. This guide provides access to material related to the “Battle of Fort Sumter” in the Chronicling America digital collection of historic newspapers.


Map of Charleston Harbor. April 12, 1861. The Daily Exchange (Baltimore, MD), Image 1. Chronicling America: Historic American Newspapers.

Fort Sumter, standing as the last Union post in the seceded state of South Carolina, is awakened in the early hours of the morning of April 12, 1861, to Confederate artillery fire.  The Fort was surrendered on April 13th after almost two days of being bombarded and heavily outnumbered.  The siege at Fort Sumter was the first major act of aggression by the Confederate States of America against the Union and would be known as the start of the Civil War.  Read more about it!

The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.

The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.


April 12, 1861 Confederate forces fire on the Union-held Fort Sumter beginning hostilities in the Civil War.
April 13, 1861 Major Robert Anderson surrenders Fort Sumter.
April 14, 1861 Union troops evacuate Fort Sumter.