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1860-1865: From Sumter to Sherman

1860 – Charleston's population estimated to be 40,500.

1860 – (Nov 7) Abraham Lincoln's election prompts the resignation of federal officials in the city.

1860 – (Dec 20) Ordinance of Secession ratified by "a Convention of the People of the State of South Carolina" in Institute Hall in Charleston, proclaiming South Carolina "an independent commonwealth."

1861 – To see an illustration of Charleston in 1861, click here.

1861 – (April 12) Confederate forces open fire upon Ft. Sumter, the first shots of the Civil War. To see a Mathew Brady Civil War photograph of Ft. Johnson cannons aimed at Ft. Sumter click here.

1861 – (Dec 19) Union forces sink the "Stone Fleet" in the harbor channel to begin their blockade of Charleston.

1862 – (June 16) Confederates repulse a Union attack during the Battle of Seccessionville on James Island. 

1862 – (June 21) Battle of Simmons Bluff.

1863 – (Jan 31) The blockading Federal fleet is attacked by the Confederate ironclads Palmetto and Chicora.

1863 – (April 7) Union sends fleet of nine ironclad Monitor warships to attack Ft. Sumter. Attack is repulsed. To see a Civil War photograph taken on the deck of the Monitor Catskill, click here.

1863 – (July 18) The Union assault upon Battery Wagner on Morris Island is lead by the 54th Massachusetts, an all black unit. This is the battle portrayed in the film Glory! To see a Civil War photograph of Ft. Wagner, click here.

1863 – (August 22) The 587 day Federal bombardment of downtown Charleston begins with the explosion of a shell on Pinckney Street.

1864 – The Confederate submarine CSS H. L. Hunley rams the Housatonic; the first submarine to sink a vessel in war. To read about the rediscovery of the wreck of the Hunley, click here.

1865 – (Feb 23) Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman's troops reach Middleton Place Plantation, leaving it in ruins. Charlestonians fear imminent invasion, but Sherman's forces turn toward Columbia. Their subsequent burning of Columbia destroys many records and valuables which Charlestonians had sent there for "safekeeping."

1865 – (April 14) Federal photographers under the supervision of Mathew Brady arrive to record the flag-raising ceremony at Ft. Sumter, marking the anniversary of Maj. Anderson's surrender to Confederate forces. They then move through the city, documenting damage from bombardment and fire. To access the complete list of photographs, click here.