South Carolina in the American Civil War
South Carolina was a site of a major political and military importance for the Confederacy during the American Civil War. The white population of the state strongly supported the institution of slavery long before the war. Political leaders such as John C. Calhoun and Preston Brooks had inflamed regional (and national) passions, and for years before the eventual start of the Civil War in 1861, voices cried for secession.The Civil War began in South Carolina. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first state to declare its secession from the Union. The first shots of the Civil War (January 9, 1861) were fired in Charleston by its Citadel cadets upon a civilian merchant ship, the Star of the West, bringing supplies to the beleaguered U.S. garrison at Fort Sumter. The April 1861 bombardment of Fort Sumter by South Carolina forces under the command of General Beauregard—the Confederacy did not yet have a functioning army—is commonly taken as the beginning of the war.South Carolina was a source of troops for the Confederate army, and as the war progressed, also for the Union, as thousands of ex-slaves flocked to join the Union forces. The state also provided uniforms, textiles, food, and war material, as well as trained soldiers and leaders from The Citadel and other military schools. In contrast to most other Confederate states, South Carolina had a well-developed rail network linking all of its major cities without a break of gauge. Relatively free from Union occupation until the very end of the war, South Carolina hosted a number of prisoner of war camps. South Carolina also was the only Southern state not to harbor pockets of anti-secessionist fervor strong enough to send large amounts of white men to fight for the Union, as every other state in the Confederacy did.Among the leading generals from the Palmetto State were Wade Hampton III, one of the Confederacy's leading cavalrymen, Maxcy Gregg, killed in action at Fredericksburg, Joseph B. Kershaw, whose South Carolina infantry brigade saw some of the hardest fighting of the Army of Northern Virginia and James Longstreet who served in the Army of Northern Virginia under Robert E. Lee and in the Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg.