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When did the Civil War begin?

April 11, 2011 - Rob Weaver
The 150th anniversary of the Civil War officially gets under way today. If you can’t make it to Charleston, S.C., today, don’t fret; Mark Young, president of the American Civil War Museum of Ohio, plans a presentation at 7 p.m. on the opening shots of the War Between the States at Fort Sumter in the harbor near Charleston, S.C. Arguably, though, the war began earlier -- much earlier than March 4, 1861, when seven southern states declared secession, forming the Confederate States of America and giving rise to the Confederate forces that attacked the U.S. military installation at Fort Sumter 150 years ago today. About 18 months before, abolitionist John Brown and 21 followers raided the U.S. Armory and Arsenal at Harpers Ferry — then in the state of Virginia — Oct. 16, 1859. He hoped to seize weapons there while at the same time stirring slaves in the area to join what in theory could become an armed revolt. But the next morning, after armory workers discovered Brown's men in control of the building, local militia companies surrounded the armory. Brown and his men were trapped. Authorities in Washington soon learned of the raid and by that afternoon, a force of Marines was on the way. The following morning, Oct. 18, the Marines stormed the armory, quelled the rebellion and captured Brown and surviving members of his raiding party. By the way, the Marines were under the command of Col. Robert E. Lee. Yes, that Lee. In September 1862, Lee again directed the capture of Harpers Ferry -- this time as a general for the Confederacy.


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