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Civil War

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Alpha

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Alpha

The first Greek alphabet alpha symbolizes the beginning of an event. Here, of course, we are talking about the beginning of the Civil War. Conventional history claims that the American Civil War started on April 12, 1861 at the bombing of Fort Sumter. Is it true? We CW buffs probably would not quite satisfy with this answer, and we know there were armed hostile incidents happening long before Ft. Sumter, and we shall examine them here.

Carl Von Clausewitz, author of "On War", said that war is the extension of politic. The South had long making threat that they would secede if the country elected the Lincoln as President. The North dismissed them. After all, the Southerners had been "talking" secession for the last 40 years since the 1820 Missouri Compromise. Too many cry wolves. Meanwhile, the South thought that the North wouldn't fight. "I could wipe all the blood with my handkerchief" proclaimed Leroy Walker, who later served as the first Confederate Secretary of War. "They are shopkeepers and factory workers. What do they know about soldiering?" The South believed that one southerner could easily beat 10 Yankees. So both sides underestimated the other's determination.

The drumming of war cry were beating slowly in the background. In the month of November 1860, events began to heat up. Lincoln got elected on the 6th. South Carolina called for a Convention. New York stock market dropped its price. Maj. Anderson was ordered to Ft. Moultrie. Georgia voted a million dollars to arm the State. In December, South Carolina seceded on 20th. Anderson secretly moved the Federal garrison to Ft. Sumter at night on 26th. US Revenue Cutter William Aiken surrendered to S. Carolina State force on demand. Please notice that President Buchanan took the "do nothing" policy. Taking a ship is clearly an act of war, according to the Northern viewpoint, but the same act would become the defense of a new Country from the Southern viewpoint. But if the Federal chose not to fight back, there would be no "conflict." So you could see that a series of "incidents" happened, but the Federal under Buchanan did not respond.

The tempo of war drum increased in January 1861. South Carolina prepared for war / defense, organizing troops and guarding the wharfs and ships, and seized Ft. Johnson in Charleston Harbor. Federal organized militia to defend the D.C. Capital. Cooler heads tried to stop this run-away train. Sen. Crittenden tried his last compromise bill but went nowhere. Federal War Department cancelled the order of their former boss, Sec' of War, Floyd, to remove guns from Pittsburgh to Southern forts. State troops seized Ft. Pulaski, 10 miles east of Savannah, Georgia. The Deep South began to seize Federal forts and arsenals. Alabama took US Arsenal at Mount Vernon, AL. On the next day, Alabama seized Ft. Gaines and Ft. Morgan, the gateway to Mobile Bay. State troops from Florida occupied US Arsenal in Apalachicola, and Ft. Marion in St. Augustine. At Pensacola, Florida, Federal defenders of Ft. Barrancas fired at an invading force. The twenty men fled. On the 9th, the second State, Mississippi, seceded.

On 1/9/1861 at the Charleston Harbor, artillery shots were fired by a young Citadel cadet named George E. Haynsworth (of South Carolina), at the unarmed Federal relief ship of Ft. Sumter, Star of the West, from a battery on Morris Island about a thousand yards away. Most of the shots missed, but a ricochet struck the fore-chains. Some historians considered this incident as the first shot of the Civil War. But it takes both sides to make a fight. Since the unarmed Star of the West merely retreated and Buchanan turned the other cheek, the War Between the States was postponed. At Ft. Moultrie, Confederate Lieut. Colonel Rowell Ripley, ordered his cannoneers to get ready, expecting Ft. Sumter returning fire. But Maj. Anderson restrained from the temptation. Anyway, Ft. Moultrie fired, but the shot fell a half-mile short on Sumter. But Anderson did not respond.

On 1/10, the third State, Florida, seceded. The next day, Alabama seceded. Mass meetings continued North and South. The drum beat faster. On 1/12 Florida occupied Ft. Barrancas and its barracks, Ft. McRee and the Pensacola Navy Yard. Louisiana State troops took Ft. Pike, near New Orleans. To prevent seizure, Federal troops reinforced Ft. Taylor at Key West, Florida, an important Navy base. The demand to surrender Ft. Pickens to Florida was refused several times. Frederal defenders held the fort successfully. On 1/19, Georgia seceded. Mississippians seized Ft. Massachusetts and other installations on Ship Island. 1/21, Five southern Senators gave farewell speeches in the Capitol, including Jeff Davis. Rumors flew everywhere on the northern Navy Yards got attacked. Georgia seized US Arsenal at Augusta. 1/26, Louisiana seceded, and Federal forts and Arsenals were seized, including Ft. Macomb. Georgia

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