This Month in Civil War History: April 2016

By Jeff Lauck ’18

A hand-colored lithograph by Currier & Ives depicting the attack on Fort Sumter. Photo via Library of Congress
A hand-colored lithograph by Currier & Ives depicting the attack on Fort Sumter. Photo via Library of Congress

Click the play button below in order to listen to “This Month in Civil War History.” You can also scroll down to read through the transcript if you would prefer to read it. This report is also airing on WZBT 91.1 FM throughout this month. Thanks to WZBT for their help in producing this piece.


Welcome to The Civil War Institute’s This Month in Civil War History for April.

The first shots of the American Civil War were fired at 4:30AM on the morning of April 12th, 1861 when Confederate gunners began bombarding the Union held Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

After a 34-hour siege, the fort’s commander, Major Robert Anderson, surrendered.

A year later, on April 6th and 7th, 1862, Confederate forces under Albert Sidney Johnston attacked and were repulsed by Union forces under Ulysses S. Grant in the Battle of Shiloh.

The battle resulted in over 23,000 casualties, making it the bloodiest battle of the war thus far.

On April 12th, 1864, Confederate cavalry under the command of Nathan Bedford Forest captured Fort Pillow in Tennessee. The battle ended when the Union garrison surrendered, but the Confederate forces massacred many of the African American soldiers in one of the bleakest events of the war.

The following year, General Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia on April 9, 1865.

The nation celebrated for a few days before tragedy struck. On April 13, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln was mortally wounded by an assassin’s bullet while watching a play at Ford’s Theater in Washington.

His killer, actor John Wilkes Booth, was found and killed two weeks later – the same day Confederate General Joe Johnston surrendered his army to Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.

The nation could finally breathe a sigh of relief and look forward to the future.

I’m Jeff Lauck and this has been This Month in Civil War History, a coproduction of WZBT and the Civil War Institute at Gettysburg College.

Leave a Reply