The American Civil War began one hundred and fifty years ago today, 12 April 1861, at 4:30 in the morning, when Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The only casualty was a Confederate horse, but by the end of the war in 1865 more than 620,000 soldiers and an unknown number of civilians were dead. Virtually every family in America suffered losses, and mine was no exception: my great-great-grand uncle Christopher Warren died in the Battle of Stones River (Murfreesboro).
Ken Burns’s seminal series The Civil War remains, in my opinion, one of the finest television shows ever made. I still have the VCR tapes I made at the time, and though I still have the machinery to play them I will probably watch when PBS replays the series later this spring.
I can scarcely add to the mountain of eloquent words about the Civil War. That we still talk about it 150 years later is evidence that we believe it to be perhaps the most important event in American history. Let us never forget.