On April 12, 1861, General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay, thus starting the bloodiest four years in American history – the Civil War. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort, and two days later, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern “insurrection.”
An ongoing conflict had been boiling between North and South over the issue of slavery since. Southern leadership had begun to discuss a unified separation from the United States, and, by 1860, the majority of the slave states were publicly threatening secession if the Republicans, the anti-slavery party, won the presidency.
With Republican Abraham Lincoln’s victory over the divided Democratic Party in November 1860, South Carolina immediately initiated secession proceedings. On December 20, the South Carolina legislature passed the “Ordinance of Secession,” which declared that “the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other states, under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved.” Subsequent to the declaration, South Carolina set about seizing forts, arsenals, and other strategic locations within the state. Within six weeks, five more Southern states–Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana–had followed South Carolina’s lead. Texas ultimately joined the secession effort bringing the list of seceding states to seven.
Four years after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, the Confederacy was defeated at the total cost of 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers dead.
When I think of the Civil War here in the United States, or, for that matter, war anywhere, I think of the Guns n’ Roses song “Civil War.” The last sentence is ‘WHAT IS SO CIVIL ABOUT WAR ANYHOW?’