Tuesday, April 12, 2011

150 Years Ago Today, The Civil War Started With A Bang

150 Years ago today, at 4:30 a.m. April 12, 1861, the artillerymen commanded by Confederate Brigadier General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard opened fire on Ft. Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

The firing on Ft. Sumter was the opening battle of the American Civil War.

Beauregard's artillery instructor at West Point, Major Robert Anderson was commanding Ft. Sumter at the time and had refused Confederate demands that the Fort be surrendered.

The Fort surrendered the next day without a Union soldier being killed (one was later killed in the hundred gun salute negotiated as part of the surrender that was reduced to a 50 gun salute as a result). The Fort was returned to Union hands on February 22, 1865.

The Civil War would become America's most bitter conflict with over 618,000 killed and exceed all casualties in all of America's wars from the Revolutionary war through the Vietnam War. The battles in the war had casualty counts that rivaled American losses in the major battles of World War 1. Indeed, the Civil War in many ways foreshadowed the nature of combat in World War 1, and the bloodiest day ever in American military history was September 17, 1862 at the Battle of Antietam/Sharpsburg.

For an excellent overview of the US Civil War I'd recommend John Keegan's The American Civil War: A Military History It gives an excellent lesson in not just the military conflict but its cultural, social, political and economic background and effects and is quite well-written. After reading Keegan, there are a multitude of other excellent authors to delve into from sweeping overviews of the war to microcosmic analysis of individual battles down to the experience of a private on the battlefield itself.

The US Civil War is one of the most written about topics in American history.

There has been a book published about the Civil War for every day since it ended and more will continue to be published on the topic, especially this year.

1 comment:

Murphy's Law said...

Silly Yankee.

Down here, we call it "The War of Northern Aggression", and ya'll just think it's over. It's really just half-time. At least that's what my neighbor yells every Friday night as he sits and drinks in his garage. And he's a public school teacher, so he should know.