After South Carolina seceded from the Union the situation around Fort Sumter had become increasingly tense and escalated with the formation of the Confederacy and the Confederate Army. The leader of the Confederate Army, General P.T. Beauregard, began building up his forces around the fort in Charleston Harbor and issued an ultimatum: evacuate Fort Sumter immediately. Major Anderson refused to surrender. Beginning at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, the Confederates bombarded the fort with fire. Although the Union garrison returned fire, they were outgunned and, after 34 hours, Major Anderson agreed to evacuate.
After the Confederate forces seized Fort Sumter, Anderson dashed off this telegram to Washington: