June 6, 2011

6/5/11 – Fort Sumter NM

Fort Sumter National Monument—where the first shots of the Civil War were fired 150 years agois on an island in Charleston Harbor.  I checked the NPS (Natl. Park Service) website and found tours depart from Liberty Square 3 times a day:  9:30, noon and 2:30.  The plan was to visit Fort Sumter, then drive around to Mount Pleasant and see Fort Moultrie too.  The USS Yorktown is docked at Mount Pleasant, and I knew George would be interested in another WWII aircraft carrier if we could squeeze it in.
We got to Charleston in plenty of time.  We took some pictures in Freedom Square, bought the tickets for the 12:00 boat and looked around the Visitor Education Center until time to go.  I hadn’t finished looking at at all the exhibits when George said they were starting to load.  I figured I could see the rest when we returned.
The tour boat is run by a concessionaire.  It takes 35 minutes to get to Fort Sumter, then an hour on the island, then another ½ hour ride back.  There are (recorded) narratives periodically during the trip, explaining the history of the four forts in the harbor.  Normally I would have listened to everything—but I got distracted today.  We started talking to the couple sitting next to me, and the 4 of us hit it off immediately.  Consequently I didn’t listen, didn’t take as many pictures, didn’t read every word in the museum like usual, so I didn’t learn as much about this fort as the others we’ve visited.  (Frankly, I don’t think they let you have enough time at the fort.  If I was in charge, I’d have smaller boats that ran more frequently, and give you the option of when you wanted to come back.  That way you wouldn’t have to be with such a huge crowd either.)
Okay—here’s today’s history lesson, such as it is:  Fort Sumter is where the Civil War started on April 12, 1861.  Initially it took the Confederates 34 hours to batter it enough to force the Federal troops to surrender.  Nobody died.  Two years later, the Union decided they wanted it back, and started bombarding it.  It was quickly reduced to rubble but the garrison refused to surrender and kept repairing it.  For 20 months over 40,000 shells were blasted at it.  When General Sherman started from Savannah, they evacuated it.  It was originally 3 stories high; it's not anymore... 

(Hmmm, I must have registered a little more than I thought I did…)
After we docked, we went to lunch with Bob and Joan, who are from Pittsburg, KS.  That’s one of the best things about this travelling, meeting very nice people from all over the place.  (And they’re the first people we’ve met on this trip who had even heard of Miami, OK, where I was born!) 
Photos of Fort Sumter NM

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