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The Civil War Month by Month: Apr 1861

CW - 150

Civil War 150th anniversary

The Civil War 150th Anniversary

Interesting facts, links, and suggested books for each month of the Civil War.

April 1861

This Month's Events

  • 4 April. Raphael Semmes is made commander of the Confederate Navy.

  • 12 April. At 4:30 a. m. Confederate forces under orders from General Pierre Beauregard begin shelling Fort Sumter. Back on December 26, Major Robert Anderson, then in command of the Union forces stationed at nearby Fort Moultrie, had managed to sneak his 70 soldiers and 13 musicians into the uncompleted but still stronger Fort Sumter right under the noses of the Confederate guard boats. But now, short on men and supplies, he has to hold onto the Fort under a direct attack. The first Union gun to reply to the attack is fired by Captain Abner Doubleday. (This is one of Doubleday's true claims to fame; the story that he invented baseball is probably a myth.) Major Anderson will surrender on April 13 as the fort crumbles around him. The first battle of the Civil War ends.

  • 15 April. In response to Lincoln's request for 75,000 troops to put down the insurrection, Governor John Ellis of North Carolina replies, "You can get no troops from North Carolina."

  • 15 April. Ellis receives a telegram from John L Cantwell [see January 1861], "Am I ordered to take possession of Forts Caswell & Johnson?" Ellis sends orders to take and hold these forts and Fort Macon.

  • 17 April. Virginia secedes.

  • 19 April. President Lincoln proclaims a blockade of the ports of of the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas. " For this purpose a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of vessels from the ports aforesaid. If, therefore, with a view to violate such blockade, a vessel shall approach, or shall attempt to leave either of the said ports, she will be duly warned by the Commander of one of the blockading vessels, who will endorse on her register the fact and date of such warning, and if the same vessel shall again attempt to enter or leave the blockaded port, she will be captured and sent to the nearest convenient port, for such proceedings against her and her cargo as prize, as may be deemed advisable."

    On the 27th he will extend the blockade order to Virginia and North Carolina. His navy at this time has 69 ships to cover 3500 miles of coastline. By the end of the war the Union will have built 200 more steamships.

  • 20 April. Lt. Colonel Robert E. Lee, who has declined an offer to command all Federal forces, resigns from the U. S. Army. On the 23rd he takes command of all Virginia forces.

  • 21 April. William A. Graham Jr. writes to his father from Charlotte, North Carolina, "The Charlotte Grays took possession of the Mint [the U.S. Mint] on yesterday, and are now guarding it, awaiting orders from the Governor. The Confederate flag, with nine stars, is waving over it."

  • 22 April. North Carolina seizes the U. S. Arsenal in Fayetteville.

  • 22 April. A military company, the Lincoln Guards aka the Star Guard aka the Southern Stars, is organized at Lincolnton and leaves for the war on the 25th. Officers are: William J. Hoke, Captain; W. M. Reinhardt, 1st Lieutenant; Robert F. Hoke, 2nd Lieutenant (he will become a Major General); and Edward E. Sumner, 3rd Lieutenant. These men are enlisted for 6 months as Co. K, 1st Regiment, North Carolina Infantry. Everyone still thinks the war will be over quickly.
    According to the Annals of Lincoln County these 97 men are the first of 1,311 from Lincoln County who will serve in the course of the war.

  • Also formed this month in Lincoln County (exact date not known), the Beatties Ford Riflemen with 82 men. Captain, A. H Houston; 1st Lieutenant, W. P. Bynum; 2nd Lieutenant, Robt. D. Johnson; 3rd Lieutenant, R. B. B. Houston.

  • This month. Dr. Sidney X. Johnston of Dallas is elected Gaston County's representative to the North Carolina Secession Convention.

  • Sometime during this month, the keeper at the Hatteras Lighthouse receives orders from Governor Ellis to turn out the light, thus denying its aid to the Union fleet, but also exposing all shipping along this dangerous coast to more risk. Eventually the lens will be taken down and hidden for safety -- and then lost to history. [See right]

This Month's Fiction

Adult Fiction

Children's Fiction

This Month's Non-Fiction

Adult Nonfiction

Children's Nonfiction

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