A deadly anniversary

A sad, but important, anniversary is marked Saturday.

One hundred and fifty-eight years ago, April 13, 1861, Fort Sumter surrendered to Confederate troops, ending the first battle of the Civil War.

A day earlier, the rebels had opened fire on the fort that sat in the middle of Charleston Bay in South Carolina.

The battle erupted two months after the Confederate States of America was formed in February 1861 by delegates from South Carolina, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana. By the time of the shelling of Fort Sumter, those six states were joined in the confederacy by Texas.

Certainly the movie “Lincoln” and the book “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln” by Doris Kearns Goodwin have sparked a revival of the study of the Civil War.

What has always struck us is the sheer number of Americans who died in this family fight. A New York Times story said that new research indicates the official figure of 618,222 — 360,222 from the North and 258,000 from the South — may be far too low.

A demographic historian at New York’s Binghamton University now estimates the figure at 750,000 — and the Times story says other historians are beginning to agree with that figure.

But the point today is that the bloodiest war in United States history was the family fight that began with the shelling of Fort Sumter. Sometimes today one hears fringe elements talking about this state or that state “ought to secede” over an issue like Obamacare.

Those may be idle comments, but secession shouldn’t be bandied about lightly. We proved once it is a very deadly subject.

(Source material gathered from history.com)

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.


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