On April 12, 1861, Union soldiers held Fort Sumter at Charleston Harbor. South Carolinians were offended by the presence of Federal forces at the fort, so they began to attack. Two days later, due to a heavy bombardment and shortage of supplies, Federal forces surrendered the garrison and boarded ships to New York. The battle marked the beginning of the American Civil War.
The stamp was the first of five stamps issued between 1961-1965 commemorating the centennial anniversaries of major Civil War battles. It depicts an officer sighting a coast gun of the period. The background contains a decorative spray of palmetto leaves suggestive of the geographical and political area in which the battle took place.