Battle of Fort Sumter

Photographs of Fort Sumter

Steroscopic photograph of a Confederate flag flying over Fort Sumter, on April 15, 1861, two days after Union surrender of the fort. Photo by Alma A. Pelot.

Photograph of Fort Sumter on August 23, 1863 from a sand bar. The fort was then under Confederate control.

Photograph of American flag being raised at Fort Sumter, Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, on April 14, 1865, one week after Union victory in the Civil War. Major General Robert Anderson and guests are in the audience. 

A postcard of rebuilt Fort Sumter, around the year 1900, published by the Detroit Photographic Company.  

Letter from William H. Seward advising President Lincoln on the obstacles in resupplying Fort Sumter, March 15th, 1861.

President Lincoln's Volunteer Army

On April 15, 1861, just three days after beginning of the first battle of the Civil War at Fort Sumter, South Carolina, President Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteers and an emergency session of Congress. Lincoln called on states to volunteer men from their state militias to suppress the Confederate rebellion. Lincoln called “to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union.” The proclamation also called for an emergency session of Congress to begin on the 4th of July, 1861 “to consider, and determine, such measures as, in their wisdom, the public safety, and interest, may seem to demand.” From the time of the proclamation until the emergency session, congressmen scrambled to rally support for the war cause, build militias, and draft war-related legislation. 

Transcript of President Lincoln's April 15, 1861 Proclamation:



WHEREAS the laws of the United States have been, for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law.

Now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed.

The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the State authorities through the War Department.

I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs already long enough endured. I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event, the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or interference with, property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens in any part of the country.

And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid to disperse, and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days from this date.

Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress. Senators and Representatives are therefore summoned to assemble at their respective chambers, at twelve o'clock, noon, on Thursdays the fourth day of July next, then and there to consider and determine such measures as, in their wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to demand.

By the President:ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Secretary of State WILLIAM H. SEWARD

Lincoln's April 15, 1861 Proclamation