Sunday, April 13, 2014

Civil War Sunday - 153 Years Later

Yesterday, April 12, 2014, marked the 153rd anniversary of the start of the United States Civil War, as Confederates bombarded Fort Sumter on an island in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.

I was in Charleston this past week, and the car trip down from my home in upstate New York was a fascinating experience.  It gave me a lot of time to think.
Gettysburg, PA - the site of perhaps the most famous Civil War battle
On the way, we passed exits for a number of Civil War battlefields and related sites, starting in Pennsylvania.
Spring still hadn't reached Gettysburg as my spouse and I passed near to a site where 51,000 people had been either killed, wounded, or captured in the battle that represented the Confederacy's greatest northward penetration into the Union.
Moving into Maryland, we passed near Andrews Air Force Base.  When we passed from Pennsylvania (a free state) into Maryland (a slave state that stayed with the Union), we had also crossed the historic Mason-Dixon line.
Then we crossed from Maryland into Virginia over the Potomac River on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  Such a simple act, but in 1861, if the bridge had been there, Virginia certainly wouldn't have been welcoming a couple of Yankees.  This was the border between the Union and the Confederacy.  In fact, a small portion of the bridge is technically in our capital, Washington, DC.

I didn't take any pictures of road signs at that point, but there were several road signs which had both Washington, DC and Richmond, Virginia listed on the same sign.  So simple - two cities, some 106 miles apart. But, during the Civil War, they were the capitals of two countries at war with each other.
Fredericksburg - near to four major Civil War battles, two of which will be commemorating 150th anniversaries next month.  Now, a city connected to other cities, north and south, via Interstate 95.

How many people give thought to history when they travel this road daily?  Things could have been so different if history had worked differently.  We can play the "what if" game - some people who enjoy something called "alternate history" do that and write some pretty interesting books based on "what if".
This photo was taken from the Ravenel Bridge that connects Charleston, South Carolina with another South Carolina City, Mt. Pleasant.  Permanently docked in Mt. Pleasant, and now a museum, is the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Yorktown, in a living museum called Patriot's Point.

If you look behind the green area to the left of this aircraft carrier which proudly flies the flag of the United States, you will see a distant, small island.  On this island sits Fort Sumter.

This is what the view of Charleston Harbor looked like after sunset on April 12, yesterday evening the 153rd anniversary of the start of the Civil War. So peaceful.

I offer no deep thoughts. Instead, what I feel is sadness - because, as horrible the war had been between April of 1861 and April of 1864, things were about to get even worse.  Much, much worse.


  1. what a nice article, and pictures. Thanks for bringing back some important History facts

  2. I always have a sense of wonder and maybe 'disbelief' whenever I go through historic sites. Did it really happened or was that just a dream?

  3. Sounds like you had a great time and learned a lot too. I'm envious!

  4. The horror of men killing other men sends shudders down my spine. What's worse is that it's still happening today. It's great to see the peaceful scenes nowadays and remember what happened.

  5. Gosh after all the time that has passed, it must be hard to believe that events happened.

  6. Nice group of pictures and, yes, a journey like that certainly makes one consider the history and the "what ifs?"


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