One of South Carolina’s most prominent icons sits in the Charleston harbor, where it’s been for more than 150 years. Today it’s a national monument visited by tens of thousands each year. For a small fee you can take a ferry ride over and spend the entire day wandering through the remains of the fort upon which the first shots of the Civil War were fired. It’s definitely worth the effort to follow through with your urge to learn more about this relic. But there are some things you won’t see. Here are 15 rare images that show Fort Sumter, South Carolina’s most famous monument, like never before.

Few photos of Fort Sumter during the Civil War exist. Were you shocked at the clarity in some of these images? (Most captions were cited from the Library of Congress notes associated with each photo.)

For more rare images of South Carolina, take a look at these 23 photos depicting our cotton milling history.

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