The Battle of Fort Sumter (April 12–13, 1861) was the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina, that started the American Civil War. Following declarations of secession by seven Southern states, South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon Fort Sumter since the fort was located in South Carolina territory and South Carolina no longer considered itself part of the Union. The Union refused to relinquish the fort. When the ultimatum deadline passed, an artillery barrage ensued, lasting until the fort was surrendered. There was no loss of life on either side as a direct result of this engagement. The President used this event as a symbolic justification to raise a Union army for the purpose of suppressing the rebellion.

The Lincoln Administration, just as the outgoing Buchanan administration before it, refused to turn over Ft. Sumter—located in the middle of the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. President Jefferson Davis and his cabinet decided that it was impossible to be an independent nation with a foreign military fort in its leading harbor, so he ordered Confederate forces to attack. After a heavy bombardment on April 12–13, 1861, (with no intentional casualties), the fort surrendered. Lincoln then called for 75,000 troops from the states to recapture the fort and other federal property. That meant marching a federal army through Virginia and North Carolina, so those states promptly joined the Confederacy (as did Tennessee and Arkansas). North and South the response to Ft. Sumter was an overwhelming, unstoppable demand for war to uphold national honor. Only Kentucky tried to remain neutral. Hundreds of thousands of young men across the land rushed to enlist, and the war was on.