Apr 12, 2011

By Douglas Stanglin, USA TODAY

Update at 10:12 a.m. ET: Cannon roared today in Hartford, Conn., to mark the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of the bloody four-year war, The Hartford Courant reports, noting that 5,354 Connecticut men died in the conflict.

On April 13, 1861, the then-Hartford Daily Courant declared in an editorial about the assault on Fort Sumter:

Let it be forever remembered that the greatest crime committed since the crucifixion of our Saviour was wantonly and willfully committed in behalf of American Slavery!

Earlier posting: The fiery blast from a lone mortar at 6:45 a.m. today near Fort Sumter marked the start of the Civil War 150 years ago and the beginning of a four-year commemoration of the conflict that cost 600,000 lives, The Post & Courier reports.

The mortar round on a grassy point near Fort Johnson in South Carolina triggered a bombardment of cannons lining the harbor toward Fort Sumter, which Union troops held April 12, 1861. A “star shell” was also fired into the sky today, signaling re-enactors who have been encamped in the Charleston area to begin reliving the attack that started the conflict.

Fort Sumter night

Cannon set up around the harbor will fire throughout the morning in recognition of the bombardment, the Charleston newspaper reports.

“This was history, again, in the making,” state Sen. Glen McConnell of Charleston, the main speaker at Fort Johnson, said of today’s ceremony.

The stage was set for this morning’s events at 4 a.m. when a single beam of light reached skyward from Fort Sumter. About a half-hour later, there was a second beam signifying a nation torn in two.

The Associated Press recalled a dispatch to the AP in 1861 by an unnamed correspondent who observed the bombardment of Fort Sumter. He wrote of gun emplacements being “shot away” and shells falling “thick and fast.”

“The ball has opened. War is inaugurated … Fort Sumter has returned the fire, and brisk cannonading has been kept up,” the correspondent wrote.

Opening Salute