Special Report

Fort Sumter: The Civil War Begins

Nearly a century of discord between North and South finally exploded in April 1861 with the bombardment of Fort Sumter

After Union troops refused to evacuate Fort Sumter, today a National Monument, Confederates opened fire. (Vincent Musi)
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A steamboat lent by a local businessman carried Anderson’s battle-weary band out to the federal fleet, past hordes of joyful Charlestonians gathered on steamers, sailboats bobbing rowboats and dinghies, under the eyes of rebel soldiers poised silently on the shore, their heads bared in an unexpected gesture of respect. Physically and emotionally drained, and halfway starved, Anderson and his men gazed back toward the fort where they had made grim history. In their future lay the slaughter pens of Bull Run, Shiloh, Antie-tam, Gettysburg, Chickamauga and hundreds more still unimaginable battlefields from Virginia to Missouri. The Civil War had begun.

Fergus Bordewich’s most recent book is Washington: The Making of the American Capital. Photographer Vincent Musi is based in Charleston, South Carolina.


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