Cannons Mark Civil War 150th Anniversary

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV/AP) — Cannons boomed at dawn around Charleston Harbor, recreating the bombardment of Fort Sumter that plunged the nation into the Civil War on April 12, 1861.

The South Carolina ceremony Tuesday begins the four-year national commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the nation’s bloodiest war.

Around 4 a.m. Tuesday, a single beam of light was aimed skyward from Fort Sumter. Then about half-hour later — around the time of the first shots of the war — the beam split into two beams, signifying a nation torn in two.

A special concert was held from 4:30 a.m. to 5 a.m. The sunrise ceremony paid homage to the music of the 1800’s.

Another commemoration event was held just after 6:30 a.m. Tuesday morning at Fort Johnson on James Island. An authentic mortar was fired twice to mark the anniversary of the first shots fire on Fort Sumter.
Nearly 200 people gathered along the Charleston battery to witness the firing from Fort Johnson.

The Civil War resulted in more than 600,000 deaths, although during the bombardment of Sumter only a Confederate officer’s horse was killed. Union troops in the fort surrendered after absorbing 36 hours of Confederate shells.

The island stronghold Fort Sumter will be the focus. Part of the National Park Service, events can go ahead there now that a federal government shutdown was averted.

The superintendent of Fort Sumter National Monument, Tim Stone, says the observance is not a celebration but a somber commemoration of a war in which 600,000 Americans died

Concerts on Monday evening and before dawn Tuesday will precede a daylong recreation of the canon bombardment Tuesday. Confederate forces demanded that a Union garrison surrender the fort and fired on it on April 12, 1861. Union forces surrendered two days later.

(Copyright 2011 by WCIV and The Associated Press.  All rights reserved.)