April 12, 1861 – The Attack on Fort Sumter

This is perhaps the quintessential example of failing to consider the ramifications of your actions. The Civil War begins.

The bloodiest four years in American history begin when Confederate shore batteries under General P.G.T. Beauregard open fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay. During the next 34 hours, 50 Confederate guns and mortars launched more than 4,000 rounds at the poorly supplied fort. On April 13, U.S. Major Robert Anderson surrendered the fort. Two days later, U.S. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteer soldiers to quell the Southern “insurrection.”

Although things went the South’s way for quite some time, in a few years, when US “Unconditional Surrender” Grant was running the show, and William Tecumseh Sherman was marching across Georgia, things would look differently.

If you have never seen Ken Burns’ The Civil War it is worth a look, even if you don’t usually like history. This series (9 episodes) does a good job of bringing the past alive. It is streaming somewhere like Hulu or Amazon, though I can’t remember where. Or maybe your local library has a copy.

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