And 150 Years Ago Today

Ken AshfordHistoryLeave a Comment

Photo: Illustration of Sumter under heavy bombardment.

On April 12th, 1861, 150 years ago today, the first battle of the US Civil War was fought at Ft. Sumter, in Charleston, South Carolina. Southern states had been seceding from the union for months, but the US still maintained coastal forts.

During the four months leading up to Lincoln’s Inauguration, the seceding states, one after another, seized federal forts, arsenals, and customs houses within their borders.


There was little to oppose the breakaway forces, a caretaker and a guard or two comprising many of the garrisons. Most of the 16,000 or so regular Army soldiers had been posted to the western frontier to protect settlers against the perceived threat from American Indians.


On March 4, 1861, Lincoln was inaugurated, promising the seceding states that he would use force only “to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places” belonging to the federal government.


The stage was set for the inevitable showdown.

National Geographic takes a look back with a rundown of what actually happened on April 12th at Ft. Sumter, and how those actions sent the nation into four years of war and cost more than 600,000 men their lives. Link