The Fort Sumter Experience Experience Historic Fort Sumter
Explore the Grounds of Fort Sumter
Stand on the grounds where America’s deadliest war began at Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park. The first shots were fired upon Fort Sumter, igniting a conflict that saw more than 700,000 casualties. Experience the opening battle of the American Civil War and explore its origins with a national park ranger. Your approximate one-hour visit to Fort Sumter allows ample time to explore well-preserved fort ruins and browse museum store souvenirs.
A Trip Around the Harbor
The Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park sits prominently at the mouth of Charleston Harbor, a strategic location that was crucial to its defense. Your tour vessel will cruise to Fort Sumter from Liberty Square in downtown Charleston or from Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant. The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge provides the backdrop for all Fort Sumter cruises, with Charleston’s stately Rainbow Row and Battery homes clearly seen. Those departing from Mt. Pleasant will enjoy views of the USS Yorktown Aircraft Carrier from up-close, while tours embarking from downtown will see Aquarium Wharf as they depart and return. Approaching Fort Sumter, graceful sailboats and playful dolphins add to the photogenic scene.
Learning the Events Leading to the War
The first shots of the American Civil War were fired on Fort Sumter at approximately 4:30 a.m. on April 12th, 1861. Fort Sumter evacuated 34 hours later, and Union forces tried for nearly four years to take it back. Walk in the steps of those who shaped this nation alongside a national park ranger, and take in the stunning scene of historic Charleston as you cruise the harbor en route to the fort.
Walking in the Steps of Those Who Shaped Our Nation
The knowledgeable national park rangers at Fort Sumter will relay stories of courageous heroes in action from the Civil War’s first battle. There is the story of Sergeant Peter Hart raising a shell-torn flag during bombardment, among many others. A visit to Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park provides a window into the life and trials of America’s heroes, from the Civil War to today’s modern conflicts.
Visitors departing from Mount Pleasant can enjoy an immersive historical experience at Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum before boarding. Explore the USS Yorktown, the USS Laffey and the interactive exhibits at the Congressional Medal of Honor Museum. Please note, you must purchase a separate ticket for these tours.
Grab a Snack Along the Way
You won’t go hungry during a Fort Sumter Tour! Tour boat concessions offer a variety of drinks and snacks (including healthy options) available for purchase during the cruise to and from the fort. Please note: no food items are allowed on the Fort Sumter and Fort Moultrie National Historical Park grounds.
Browsing the Gift Shop
America’s National Parks Museum Store is located in the Fort Sumter Visitor and Education Center at Liberty Square and at Fort Sumter. Unique Souvenirs will engage the history buff and souvenir seeker alike. Books, CDs & DVDS include fascinating titles about Fort Sumter and the Civil War.