April 12-13, 1861 marks the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, near Charleston that started the War Between the States, a war that claimed 620,000 men and devastated the South..

Following the secession of seven Southern states from the Union, South Carolina demanded that the U.S. Army abandon its facilities in Charleston Harbor. An attempt by the U.S. to reinforce the Federals using the Star of the West merchant ship failed when it was fired upon by shore batteries on Jan 9, 1861 (I have mentioned before my ancestor, Col. John L. Branch gave the order to fire upon that ship).

By March the situation around Fort Sumter began to resemble a siege and Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard of the Confederate States of America was placed in command of the Confederate forces. Conditions in the Fort grew dire as the Federals, under Major Anderson, became short of men, food and supplies.

Lincoln notified the Governor of South Carolina that he was sending supply ships, which resulted in an ultimatum from the Confederate government: “evacuate Fort Sumter immediately”. Major Anderson refused to surrender and beginning at 4:30 a.m on April 13, the Confederates began to bombard the fort from artillery batteries surrounding the harbor. After 34 hours Major Anderson agreed to evacuate, and the long, bloody War had begun.