The 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter, SC, will mark that unique moment in American history when time seemed to stand still. The time was clearly illuminated for generations to come by the words of diarist Mary Chestnut whose recollections were featured in the heralded PBS Civil War series. Ms. Chestnut was within earshot of Charleston Harbor and the site of contention between North and South, Fort Sumter. As Ms. Chestnut retells it one can almost hear the thunderous report of the guns as Confederates gunners opened fire on the Fort determined to remove the last vestige of Union presence from the harbor.
After about 34 hours on the receiving end of shelling the Union commander surrendered the U. S. fort to the secessionists and war between states once united began. The Civil War was filled with many battles at places like Antietam, Shiloh, Vicksburg and Gettysburg that are still memorized by school children. But chronologically leading the list of battles between North and South was certainly that initial confrontation between Federal troops holding the American fort at Sumter and troops of the newly seceded state of South Carolina.
State and community leaders are preparing to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War in locations across the country. And as in the case of the actual Civil War the first confrontation to be memorialized will be the firing on Fort Sumter that took place on April 12 at 4:30 a.m.
Visiting Charleston for the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter can be an incredible lesson in history and Americana for children and adults alike. If you visit during 2011 you will probably see the Fort Sumter National Monument primed for your viewing. It’s picturesque location in Charleston Harbor belies the violence that took place during that first Civil War confrontation. The National Park Service makes it very clear on its website that Fort Sumter is located in the Harbor and cannot be reached accept by ferry. Ferry locations and schedules can be accessed through the National Park Service. The Fort Sumter Visitor Education Center is located at 340 Concord St. in Charleston, SC
If you are fortunate enough to arrange to be present in Charleston any time between April 8 and April 17th you will have an opportunity to see re-enactors participating in a 10 day long encampment. It is the goal of those involved in this particular 150th anniversary to do more than a staged reenactment. Instead the plan is meant to present for all those who care to view it a piece of living history which will of course also include the playing out of the actual firing on the fort on April 12, 2011. What a wonderful opportunity they will provide for immersing yourselves in the history of your country. You can keep up with the developing plans for the Charleston,SC celebration at the National Park Service website
Whether you visit during the year or on the actual day you will have the chance to tour not just the Ft Sumter National Monument but also hopefully to spend time drinking in the beauty of the wonderful southern city of Charleston, a city so charming that even Union troops bent on Southern destruction left it untouched in their march to the sea.
Boone Hall Plantation for example. located in nearby Mount Pleasant, SC will open your eyes to the way life was lived in the South prior to the Civil War. It survives as one of the oldest functioning plantation open to visitors and filled with the kind of real life connections that will keep you and your family engaged and reflecting for days to come.
Some in your group might prefer to find their history in a museum setting. If so you will want to negotiate some time to spend at the Charleston Museum. This local Charleston tourist attraction is nothing less than the first museum to be established in the U. S. and dates back to 1773. You can spend lots of time browsing among the exhibits that illustrate American crafts and natural history.
At the 150th anniversary of the firing on Fort Sumter two things can be promised. You will get as close to the action as the passage of time permits and you will have much better time then the original Union participants.
Then for that break from history to pure enjoyment that everyone occasionally needs,you and your family can add a few hours of fun by visiting the South Carolina Aquarium also conveniently located in Charleston, SC. This won’t be the largest Aquarium you will ever visit but its display of regional aquatic life is considerable and surely a welcomed change from all of the other out door activities.