Most of you probably know that the first shots of the Civil War were fired in the early morning hours of April 12, 1861 at Ft. Sumter. The fort – located off the coast of South Carolina in Charleston Harbor – was being held by Union troops under the command of Major Robert Anderson.
On April 10, Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard (mentioned in previous blog posts here and here) ordered Anderson to evacuate the fort, and when Anderson refused, Beauregard ordered his men to open fire. By midday April 13, Anderson and his men surrendered and the next day the fort was evacuated.
Now, you may be asking yourself, ‘What makes this event interesting and blog post worthy?’
The interest lies with the two commanders who led each side of the engagement. Prior to the war, Robert Anderson taught at West Point and Beauregard was his student. That alone is an interesting coincidence. But what makes it more interesting is that after graduating, Beauregard became Anderson’s assistant and the two became very close. It can be argued that it was in part due to what Beauregard learned from Anderson (an artillery instructor) that he was able to successfully take Ft. Sumter from his previous instructor.
That the two men had to fight against one another at the opening of the war is just one example of the many instances when friends and family were pitted against one another during the Civil War.