Features

April 7, 2013

This Week in The Civil War, for week of Sunday, April 7

Union Navy attacks Charleston, S.C.

A Union naval fleet of nine ironclad vessels attacked Charleston, S.C., on April 7, 1863. The attack 150 years ago during the Civil War marked a return to outright hostilities in the Southern seaport where the Civil War began in April 1861 with Confederate artillery barraging Union-held Fort Sumter. Bypassing gunfire from batteries ringing the port, the federal ironclads began attacking Fort Sumter, then defended by hundreds of Confederate troops. The artillery attack by the federal ironclads rained dozens of rounds on Sumter and the fort replied with a much heavier barrage of its own. One federal ironclad, the Keokuk, ran closer than any of the other Union vessels to fire on the fort from its two gun turrets. But the Keokuk was hit numerous times by Confederate firing, pulling away crippled to sink a day later. Another federal vessel also was hit and disabled. The federal attack inflicted only minor damage to Fort Sumter, pocking its walls with shell shot even though the stout fort remained intact. Only a handful of troops were killed on both sides. The engagement had little influence on the war effort of either side and wasn’t nearly as significant as the April 1861 Confederate attack on Fort Sumter that unleashed the tides of war.

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