I don’t need your Civil War…
Even if you’re not a history freak like I am, you should take some time to acknowledge that today is a pretty big anniversary. Exactly 150 years ago today — April 12, 1865 for the math-challenged — that the American Civil War began when forces from the Confederate States of America (CSA) launched an attack on the Federal outpost of Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
34 hours after the battle began Union forces, under the command of Major Robert Anderson, surrendered to Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard’s Confederates. Neither side suffered any casualties during the battle, although two Union officers died after a gun explosion during the April 14 surrender ceremony.
Following the Union defeat President Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteer soldiers for 90 days, as the scale of the Southern rebellion still seemed relatively small. By the end of the war four years later, more than 620,000 soldiers had died.
Charleston Harbor — of which Fort Sumter was a part — was completely in Confederate hands for almost all of the Civil War, leaving a hole in the Union naval blockade. Union forces conducted major operations in 1862 and 1863 to capture Charleston, first overland on James Island (the Battle of Secessionville, June 1862), then by naval assault against Fort Sumter (the First Battle of Charleston Harbor, April 1863), then by seizing the Confederate artillery positions on Morris Island (beginning with the Second Battle of Fort Wagner, July 1863, and followed by a siege until September).
After pounding Sumter to rubble with artillery fire, a final amphibious operation attempted to occupy it (the Second Battle of Fort Sumter, September 1863), but was repulsed and no further attempts were made. The Confederates evacuated Fort Sumter and Charleston in February 1865 as Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman outflanked the city in the Carolinas Campaign. On April 14, 1865, four years to the day after lowering the Fort Sumter Flag in surrender, Robert Anderson (by then a major general, although ill and in retired status) raised it over the fort again.
For those who don’t care for all that fancy book learnin’ I just laid on you, you can watch this animated Fort Sumter map video from the Civil War Trust instead.
- Civil War still divides Americans (politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com)
- Fort Sumter and the Impending Crisis: Reason Writers on the Civil War (reason.com)
- Fort Sumter, April 12, 1861 (webnerhouse.com)
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