April 12, 1861

On this day in 1861, the first official shots of the American Civil War were fired. The short battle, which took place at Union-held Fort Sumter  in Charleston, South Carolina, marked the beginning of the war, though it was not the first unofficial battle to occur. The skirmish lasted for 34 hours and resulted in U.S. Major Robert Anderson’s surrender of the fort to Confederate forces. Four years after the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter, Union forces defeated the Confederacy. Many newly immigrated Irish fought in the war, a significant number of them gathering in the 69th Regiment, which became known as the Irish Brigade.

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