Thursday, April 14, 2011

Civil War began 150 years ago

Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Just 10 hours after the first shot was fired, New Orleanians learned the news from The Daily Picayune that the Civil War had begun with a Confederate battery opening fire on federal forces holding the fort guarding the harbor in Charleston, S.C.

After two days of pounding, the Union surrendered the fort to St. Bernard native General Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, and the war was begun in earnest.
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Not yet given a name in the pages of the The Daily Picayune, the titantic struggle was referred to in the New Orleans paper as the War of Southern Independence, while the North called it the War for the Union. Even now some Southerners decline to call it the Civil War.
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While no Union and only one Confederate soldier died in the three-day artillery duel in Charleston, the next four years proved the deadliest in American history. Until Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to American Commander Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia in April 1865, more than 600,000 American soldiers, blue and gray, were felled.

The South was ravaged, Lincoln was assassinated, 4 million slaves were freed. America began the still-ongoing process of reconciling its history.
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Beauregard returned home to New Orleans and became a railroad executive and later the director of the then-notorious Louisiana Lottery. He is buried in Metairie Cemetery and sits astride his horse in a statue near City Park.

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