Sketch of the bombardment of Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861 in Harper's Weekly.
The Civil War-era was one of industrious innovation, fascination and sweeping cultural change. Not only would the country forever be changed, but Warfare would be drastically transformed by the events that unfolded during this armed conflict of brother against brother. In late 1860 and early 1861, the Southern states voted to secede from the United States, and formed the Confederate States of America. When South Carolina seceded, the first Confederate state to do so, they began to seize the forts within their borders and off their coastline. The only fort that they were unable to seize was the most strategic and important one to the Union: Fort Sumter.

Robert Anderson was the Federal Major assigned to Fort Sumter and by April 1861, he and his men did not even have enough supplies to get them through the end of the month. On April 11, General Beauregard sent a letter to Major Anderson demanding the surrender of the fort. When Anderson refused, the next day at 4:30 AM Bueragard ordered his forces at the Charleston battery to open fire onto Fort Sumter. After two days of heavy bombardment, Fort Sumter surrendered to the Confederates.

"Scott's Great Snake" - The illustration of Union General Winfield Scott's plan to strangle the South with an economic blockade. Although initially criticized, Scott's plan was instrumental in wearing down the Confederacy. (From R. Bak, The CSS Hunley. The Greatest Undersea Adventure of the Civil War [Dallas 1999] p. 90).

Transporting the H.L. Hunley by rail to Charleston, SC.
The Civil War had begun.

On April 19, 1861 President Abraham Lincoln issued an order for the Union forces to begin a blockade of all major Southern ports. This strategy set a chain of events in motion that would bring about groundbreaking advancements in naval warfare and eventually lead to the building of the world's first successful submarine: H.L. Hunley.

With Charleston housing the strategically valuable Fort Sumter and the largest port in the South, she quickly became the focal point of the blockade and the Civil War. As the war progressed, the blockade on Charleston Harbour became more fortified, allowing less and less blockade runners through.

In 1863, news from Mobile of the successful trial runs of the Hunley had made its way to Charleston. Could this secret submersible weapon help save Charleston from the ever-tightening Union blockade?

With proof of the submarine's destructive powers becoming more known, the Hunley arrived by train in Charleston on the morning of August 12, 1863 and was soon granted an audience with besieged Charleston's military commander, Pierre Gustave Tousant Beauregard.

Related Pages:

The Civil War
The Strategy
The First Crew
The Second Crew
The Third Crew
The Historic Mission
Complete The Journey

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