1861: The first shots of the US Civil War are fired. The northern or Union forces fought against southern or Confederate forces as they elected to secede from the United States of America. There were 34 states in the union when the seven southern slave states first declared their desire to leave and form their own Confederate States of America. The Confederacy would eventually grow to eleven states while it claimed to include thirteen and the territory of Arizona. The CSA was never recognized by any foreign state and remained as a rebellious portion of the USA throughout the four year war.
The state of South Carolina seceded on December 20, 1860 and within the week, US Army Major Robert Anderson abandoned Fort Moultrie located outside Charleston on the mainland. He took as many guns and as much ammunition as was movable and destroyed the rest before fleeing to Fort Sumter located in the Charleston Harbor. Sumter was not a finished fortification and Anderson hoped brining more cannon and shot would help to create a stronger defense should the South Carolina militia attack. On January 31, 1861 South Carolina Governor Francis Pickens sent a letter to US President James Buchanan demanding the evacuation of Sumter. It was ignored.
Over the next months, more demands were made from Pickens and from CSA Brigadier General PGT Beauregard and all were ignored, the fort remained staffed with Union troops. The men on the island were unable to be resupplied or reinforced as cadets from the Citadel, a military college in Charleston, were able to keep ships from approaching and it was these young men who actually fired the first shots of the period, doing so on January 9, 1861. But that is not what led to all out war. That was the attack on this day as the Union sent in ships to supply and reinforce their holding.
The US Civil War was the bloodiest fighting on American soil with the Union suffering over 828,000 casualties (dead, wounded, captured) with the CSA suffering over 864,000 casualties. More than 50,000 free civilians were killed as were over 80,000 slaves. The total cost in lives was nearly a million dead. The Union was able to be preserved and the grueling work of reconstruction began without Abraham Lincoln still in charge. It was Lincoln’s election that spurred the South into rebellion and his assassination at the end of the war meant his vision of reunification was sidelined. The major outcome of the war was that slavery was abolished throughout what was once again the United States of America.
Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other. – Abraham Lincoln
Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. – Abraham Lincoln
Neither current events nor history show that the majority rule, or ever did rule. – Jefferson Davis
I worked night and day for twelve years to prevent the war, but I could not. The North was mad and blind, would not let us govern ourselves, and so the war came. – Jefferson Davis