The Civil War Begins
This mural located at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, by artist Danilo Montejo, shows Ft. Sumter in Charleston Harbor under fire on April, 12th 1861. From the batteries on the shore, the Confederate States of America instigated hostilities. The shells began falling on the last remaining Federal outpost in the South. Of course, there is a case to be made that Lincoln’s actions up to that fateful day in regards to Ft. Sumter served to instigate the conflict and thus the war. Choosing to resupply the fort rather than surrender it opened the door to the bloody war that followed, regardless of who fired the first shot. That discussion is for a later time.
The bombardment of the fort started at 4:30 AM 4/12/1861 when the Confederate forces under General P.G.T. Beauregard (the first general in the Confederacy) opened fire from the chain of forts surrounding the harbor. The Union forces under Major Robert Anderson return fire the best they could, but they were dramatically outgunned. The fort could not hold and there was no chance of reinforcements. After 34 hours and thousands of shots being fired Anderson was forced to surrender.
It was a miracle for sure, but during the bombardment, no one was killed on either side. In what can only be seen as a bitter irony, during the surrender ceremonies on the 14th, a cannon exploded killing two Union soldiers, the first of the war.
The spectacular mural above does a wonderful job of capturing the events of the battle. There would be many, many more to come as the sound of the guns that broke the pre-dawn stillness that morning would continue for four very long years. The Civil War had begun.