April 12, 1861: On this day in 1861 the first artillery shots began landing on Fort Sumter and signaled the beginning of War of the Rebellion. Fort Sumter was a heavy fortification located in South Carolina’s Charleston Harbor and was under the command of Major Robert Anderson who had moved his command from Fort Moultrie the previous December. His position at Fort Moultrie was taken over by Roswell Sabin Ripley.
The bombardment of Fort Sumter lasted was just the final stages of the siege which had been ongoing since January. President James Buchanan had tried sending supplies to the besieged fortification, but newly formed South Carolinian forces opened fire on the supply ship preventing them from landing.
When Abraham Lincoln took office on March 4, 1861, he contacted the governor of South Carolina that he would be sending a more heavily escorted supply ship to Fort Sumter. President Lincoln had hoped that the governor would acquiesce and allow the supply ships to land. However, the governor instead thumbed his nose at the new President and demanded that he withdraw all federal troops from the island. Major Anderson refused the order to surrender.
At 4:30 A.M. on this day in 1861, the 38 year old General Ripley, ordered his artillery gunners to open fire. Thirty-four hours later Major Anderson, fearing that his defensive position was about to fall from from continuous fire from the artillery cadets manning the gun at Fort Moultrie agreed to surrender his position and evacuate Fort Sumter.
When Major Anderson left Fort Moultrie, he had his men disable all of the artillery pieces left behind. Confederate General Ripley, an Ohioan, born and raised in Worthington, was brought in to repair those canon and fire the opening rounds against Major Anderson at Fort Sumter, shots that would begin the war known today as the Civil War.