FORT SUMTER — It was a subdued and simple ceremony: one flag was lowered, another rose to take its place.

On one side of the parade ground, a company of Union re-enactors stood at attention, waiting for the order to move out; on the other side, Confederate re-enactors stood ready to take control.

As historian Richard Hatcher narrated the events, the 33-star United States flag was lowered from the fort’s main flagpole.

“This is one of the most historic days in the history of Fort Sumter and the United States,” Hatcher said.

One hundred and fifty years ago today, U.S. Army Maj. Robert Anderson and his men formally surrendered the fort to Confederate troops following the first battle of the American Civil War. Today, re-enactors will go through the surrender ceremony several times.

After the U.S. flag was lowered, the flag of the Palmetto Guard was raised on one flagpole. It wasn’t supposed to happen that way, but someone jumped the gun back then. And then the First National Confederate flag was raised — the Stars and Bars, the version with seven stars. Finally, the South Carolina state flag went up.

Most of the men who took part in the ceremony called it stirring.

“A lot of emotions go through you when you think about those times,” said Jerry Morris of Barnwell, who portrayed a member of the 1st S.C. Artillery. “I think ‘lest we forget’ comes to mind.”

Read more in tomorrow’s editions of The Post and Courier and www.postandcourier.com