Robert Anderson (June 14, 1805 – October 26, 1871) was an American military leader. He served as a Union Army officer in the American Civil War, known for his command of Fort Sumter at the start of the war. He is often referred to as Major Robert Anderson, referring to his rank at Fort Sumter.
Anderson was born in "Soldier's Retreat," near Louisville, Kentucky. He graduated from the United States Military Academy (West Point) in 1825 and received a commission as a brevet second lieutenant in the 2nd U.S. Artillery. He served in the Black Hawk War of 1832 as a colonel of Illinois volunteers, where he had the distinction of twice mustering Captain Abraham Lincoln in and out of army service. Returning to the Army as a first lieutenant in 1833, he served in the Second Seminole War as an assistant adjutant general on the staff of Winfield Scott, and in the Mexican-American War, where he was severely wounded at Molino del Rey, and for which he received a brevet promotion to major. He eventually received a permanent promotion to major of the 1st U.S. Artillery in the Regular Army on October 5, 1857. He is the author of Instruction for Field Artillery, Horse and Foot in 1839.
As Southern states began to secede, Major Anderson, a pro-slavery, former slave-owner from Kentucky, remained loyal to the Union. He was the commanding officer of Fort Sumter at Charleston Harbor in Charleston, South Carolina, when at the time it was bombarded by forces of the Confederate States of America. The artillery attack was commanded by Brig. Gen. P. G. T. Beauregard, who had been Anderson's student at West Point. The attack began April 12, 1861, and continued until Anderson, badly outnumbered and outgunned, surrendered the fort on April 14. The battle began the American Civil War. No one was killed in the battle on either side, but one Union soldier, Daniel Hough, was killed during a 100-gun salute.