Start of the Civil War: April 12, 1861

Charleston, SC

The Confederate States of America began a bombardment of undermanned Fort Sumter, in Charleston, South Carolina, but the commander refused to surrender. Confederate authorities, hoping to avert war, planned negotiations with the U.S. and to starve Sumter into submission. But in April 1861, President Abraham Lincoln announced a plan to hold or reoccupy all federal property in the Confederacy and resupply Fort Sumter. The Confederates forced Sumter’s surrender on April 14. Lincoln proclaimed an insurrection, called on state militias and began enrolling volunteers to confront “combinations too powerful to be suppressed by ordinary means.” This began the Civil War, which would last four years and cost 750,000 lives.

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