The Civil War begins as Confederate naval forces attack Fort Sumter at Charleston Harbor, South Carolina. The federal garrison, under command of Major Robert Anderson, surrenders on April 13 and evacuates on April 14, 1861. Before evacuating, a misfire during a 100-gun salute to the U.S. flags mortally wounds two Union soldiers--the only casualties to result from the first "official" battle of the Civil War. Fort Sumter's U.S. flag stays in Union hands and is used as a symbolic standard to boost morale.
Listen to a recording of historian Ethan Rafuse discussing the Attack on Fort Sumter at the Kansas City Public Library.