History records that the first shot of the War Between the States was fired on April 12, 1861. Oh really?
On page 107 of The History of the South Carolina Military Academy by John Peyre Thomas we read: “On the night of December 31 (1860), Lt. Col. John. L. Branch, of the first Regiment of Rifles, South Carolina Militia, received orders to take three of his companies to Morris Island. On the afternoon of January 1, 1861, he reached that point. Being the senior officer, he assumed command of all the forces on the Island, and remained in command until the arrival, a few weeks subsequent, of Col. J.J. Pettigrew.
Col. Branch found Major P.F. Stevens and his command engaged in constructing what was, after the 9th of January called the Star of the West Battery; as it was from that point, and with the 24-pounders manned by the cadets, that the United States Ship “Star of the West” was driven off while attempting to relieve Fort Sumter.
Thus it stands – for all that it implies- that the Citadel Cadets, under the command of Col. Branch, as commanding officer of the post, and of Maj. Stevens as immediately in charge of the guns, fired the first shot of the War of Secession.
Col. Branch and Maj. Stevens, thus connected with he first hostile incident of a great war, were both graduates of the South Carolina Military Academy And it was the Governor of South Carolina who had ordered them to the front, at the culmination of the crisis which had been brought upon the state.”
Readers, you may be interested to know that Col. John Luther Branch was my Great-Grandfather!