Today marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the bloodiest four years in American history.  When the American Civil War ended with the Confederate surrender at Appomattox courthouse in 1865, a combined 620,000 Americans had been killed.  It’s hard to believe but that number is nearly as many American soldiers killed in all the other wars this country has fought combined – World Wars One and Two, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mexican War, Spanish American War….just an incredible number of lives lost….Americans killing Americans. 

It all began when Confederate forces on shore opened fire on Union soldiers at Fort Sumter in South Carolina’s Charleston Bay.  The Confederates cut off any chance of reinforcements or additional supplies arriving at the fort and after 34 hours Union soldiers surrendered.  Two days later President Lincoln sent 75,000 soldiers to settle what at that time was called an "insurrection."

The seeds of the “insurrection” had been brewing for years.  Slavery was one of the major issues, but southern states had been considering breaking away from the United States as early as 1858.  South Carolina was the first to break away followed by Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana and Mississippi.  South Carolina then began systematically seizing forts and other military installations across the state and finally Fort Sumter. 

I had an opportunity to visit Charleston, South Carolina a few years ago and it’s hard to imagine such an awful war could have begun in such a beautiful city.  Many of the downtown buildings are just as they were during the Civil War and Charleston Bay is absolutely picturesque.  We only had just a few hours there, but Shelley and I plan to return one day.