April 12, 1861: The Civil War Begins
On this day in 1861, General Pierre G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Fort Sumter and remained there for thirty-three hours until the fort was surrendered.
Early on, the southern states wanted to secede from the nation due to conflicting opinions regarding slavery between the north and south. Once Abraham Lincoln was elected, it incited the southern states to secede and form the Confederate States of America. When the Confederates took over Fort Sumter, President Lincoln declared war.
The Civil War lasted until 1865 with about 620,000 casualties.
Explore this historical event further with Ken Burns’s The Civil War photo gallery.
Image: Md. Allan Pinkerton, President Lincoln, and Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand (Library of Congress)