Founded on a low-lying peninsula of land between the Ashley and Cooper rivers in coastal South Carolina in 1670, Charleston became an important port in the following decades as the colonists established a thriving trade with Europe. The city was the site of two significant battles during the Revolutionary War, and was also the location of the opening salvo of the Civil War, when shore batteries under the command of General Pierre Beauregard opened fire on the Union-held Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. After a 34-hour bombardment, Union forces surrendered the fort, thus starting the War between the States in 1861. And while the city itself was ravaged by both wars, a remarkable number of historic sites still remain, including homes, commercial buildings and churches. Examples of colonial architecture abound, especially in the downtown areas.