>In the garish day and in the darkest night

>On this day 150 years ago, Fort Sumter fell into Confederate hands. The Civil War began, ushering in four years of blood, fire, death, separation and anguish for all American people. More people were killed in those four years than all other American wars combined to date.

The scale of devastation could not be comprehended by the modern mind. Typically, I use 9/11 as a way to compare. A few thousand people were killed that day and the devastation is still felt today. It was not uncommon for casualties to be in the thousands or tens of thousand in battle after battle. The devastation was relentless and never let up for the entire war. Taking the feelings one experienced in the months surrounding 9/11 and stretching that out into blow after blow for years offers an idea of what this country endured in the Civil War.

It is the individual stories, however, that brings it home for people today. Perhaps the most compelling, famous and gut-wrenching letter of the war was written by Sullivan Ballou. I thought about posting the text of the letter here but it wouldn’t have the same affect as hearing it read out loud. Please listen to this man’s emotional words and think about what your own ancestors endured in the war.

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