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Interesting US History
A Website Devoted to Interesting Events in U.S. History





April 12, 1861

The American Civil War Begins

On this day in 1861, the American Civil War began when Confederate troops fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, which was manned by U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson and his 127 men. The attack occured because Federal troops refused repeated calls to evacuate by the government of South Carolina and Confederate General P.G.T. Beauregard. Federal troops not only refused to evacuate but three months before, on January 9, they had attempted to resupply and reinforce the fort. Those attempts failed when the steamer "Star of the West" was fired upon (which were actually the first shots of the war).

When that attempt failed and the fort began running short of food and supplies, Lincoln sent a fleet of ships to attempt an entry into Charleston Harbor. They began to arrive April 11 nut it was too late. Earlier that day Confederate General Beauregard had sent three aides to demand surrender of the fort. Anderson once again refused and at 4:30 a.m. on April 12, Confederate batteries opened fire.

Other noteable Civil War events on this day were:

1862 - The Great Locomotive Chase (aka Andrews' Raid) occured when Union Army hijacked a Confederate train in Georgia and headed North. Eventually the trains conductor and two other men chased the stolen train by various means including another train until Andrews' men began destrying the track along the way.

1864 - The Fort Pillow Massacre occured when Confederate forces killed most of the Union African American forces that had surrendered at Fort Pillow, Tennessee.

1865 - The city of Mobile, Alabama, is surrendered to the Union Army just three days after Robert E. Lee surrendered his troops to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomatox Courthouse in Virginia.