Born near Louisville, Kentucky, Robert Anderson (1805-1871) graduated from West Point in 1825 and received an U.S. Army commission. When the secession of South Carolina became imminent, he was sent to take command of the three United States fortifications in Charleston Harbor. Anderson stationed himself at the one fort which was garrisoned, Fort Moultrie. He remained there for five weeks while urgently calling upon the War Department for reinforcements. From the government he received vague and conflicting instructions, but no assistance in men or munitions. After the Ordinance of Secession was passed, Anderson knew that a Confederate attack was unavoidable. So on December 26, he secretly moved the guns and his men to Fort Sumter, which was located on a shoal in the harbor and could not be approached by land (see Entry Of Major Robert Anderson At Fort Sumter, December, 1860). Anderson's sincere desire was to keep peace until his government was ready to evacuate the posts in the Charleston Harbor and turn them over to the seceded states. Reinforcements finally arrived aboard the "Star of the West," but after the ship was fired upon, it turned back. When confronted on April 11 with a formal demand for surrender, Anderson showed no weakness. He defended Fort Sumter from Confederate attack and surrendered after 34 hours of siege. On April 14, 1865, Anderson returned to Fort Sumter to raise the United States flag over the fort, four years from the date he had lowered it. January 12,1861, engraving from "Harper's Illustrated Weekly."
Courtesy of the South Carolina Department of Archives and History.