Famous First Facts

The act that marked the inauguration of the War of 1861 - 1865 was the 5 January 1861 firing upon the Star of the West, a staunch merchant steam vessel chartered by the government to convey supplies and men to Sumter. The vessel withdrew without returning fire, and there were no casualties.

The first attack in the Civil War was made on Fort Sumter, S.C. The first gun was fired on the morning of 12 April 1861 by Edmund Ruffin, a 75-year-old Virginian. There were no casualties.

The first bloodshed in the Civil War was on 19 April, 1861. When Lincoln issued his proclamation of 15 April 1861, Gov. John Albion Andrew of Massachusetts sent five regiments of infantry, a battalion of riflemen and a batter of artillery to Washington. While passing through Baltimore, they were stoned and fired upon by a mob of citizens. Four union soldiers were killed and twenty injured. Nine casualties were reported among the mob.

The first Confederate General killed in the Civil War was Albert Sidney Johnston of Texas who fell at Shiloh, Tenn 6 April 1862.

The first call for Union troops in the Civil War was made by President Abraham Lincoln who called for 75,000 volunteers April 15, 1861, the day after the surrender of Fort Sumter, S. C.

The first skirmish in the Civil War took place on June 1, 1861 at Fairfax Court House, VA and resulted in the wounding of a few troops. The action at Philippi, WVa, which has often been regarded as the first Civil War land battle occurred June 3, 1861.

The first Naval engagement in the Civil War took place September 14, 1861 at Pensacola, FL. Lt. John H. Russell with a detachment of the crew of the USS Colorado descended upon the navy yard at Pensacola at 2 AM. They set fire to the steamer Judah and spiked the only gun in the yard. Three of the Union troops were killed, four wounded. There were no Confederate casualties.

Excerpted from a 1933 book by Joseph Nathan Kane