Robert Anderson was born at "Soldier's Retreat" near Louisville, Kentucky, on June 14, 1805. His father, a lieutenant colonel of the Continental line, had moved from Virginia to Kentucky after the American Revolution. Commissioned into the 3rd Artillery after being graduated from West Point in 1825, Anderson was assigned to artillery and ordnance duty at various places. He participated in the Black Hawk, Florida, and Mexican Wars, and was brevetted twice for gallantry. He also served on various artillery boards while translating a number of French artillery texts. He received the rank of major in 1857 and, in November, 1860, was ordered to Charleston Harbor to command the three United States forts there—Castle Pinckney, Moultrie, and the unfinished Sumter—in the face of South Carolina's imminent secession. This assignment was dictated by both military and political considerations: Anderson was a Kentucky-born proslavery officer whose wife was a Georgian, but he was also highly competent and respected in his profession and his loyalty was unquestioned. Anderson, who had established his headquarters at Moultrie, realized his untenable position and moved his command to Sumter. The South Carolina authorities immediately declared this act a violation of the status quo previously agreed upon in Washington. When the steamer Star of the West appeared to reinforce him, Anderson—not wishing to provoke war and having only vague instructions from Washing-ton—permitted it to be driven off. A formal demand for surrender was finally presented. Anderson refused and beginning in the early morning of April 12, 1861, sustained a thirty-four hour bombardment which made further resistance suicidal. Accepting the terms offered by the Confederates, he marched out with colors flying and saluted his flag with fifty guns. His conduct served to unify the North. Arriving in New York, as a hero, he was appointed brigadier general in the Regular Army by President Abraham Lincoln on May 15, 1861. After commanding for a short time in Kentucky, where he helped maintain the state's nominal allegiance to the Union, he fell ill, was relieved in October, and retired in 1863. He raised the United States flag over Sumter on April 14, 1865, exactly four years after he had hauled it down. He was brevetted major general the same year. He died in Nice, France, on October 26, 1871, but his remains were returned to the United States for burial at West Point.
Reference: Generals in Blue. Lives of the Union Commanders by Ezra J. Warner. Louisiana State University Press. Baton Rouge.