03079 - Exterior view of Fort Sumter; Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, April 1865 [LC-DIG-cwpb-03079]
Fort Sumter was originally five stories tall when the war started in 1861. By 1865, Fort Sumter barely remained. After the longest siege in modern history, the Union army had reduced the fort to barely 1-2 stories. Much of the fort was now held together by improvised defenses made of wicker baskets filled with dirt and rubble (gabions). Much of the original fort had either fallen back into the interior and was reused in gabions, or had fallen outside of the fort and was lost to Confederate use, as is shown here.
Following the war much of the debris was left in place and Fort Sumter was used as a lighthouse station until the time of the Spanish-American war. At that time any debris that had not been salvaged by enterprising Charlestonians was removed and the fort was updated to its current condition. This image show the true condition of the fort exterior just a few months after it had fallen back into Union hands.