Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of Confederate forces west of the Mississippi, signs the surrender terms presented by Union negotiators, in what is often seen as the end of the Civil War. The last Confederate army ceased to exist with Smith’s surrender, putting an end to the bloodiest four years in American history.
The American Civil War began on April 12, 1861, at Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, when Confederate shore batteries led by General Pierre G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter. 50 Confederate guns and mortars fired over 4,000 rounds at the under-supplied fort in 34 hours, and the Union garrison commander, U.S. Major Robert Anderson, surrendered on April 13. President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation two days later, requesting 75,000 volunteer soldiers to aid subdue the Southern “insurgency.” The Confederacy was crushed four years later, at a cost of 620,000 Union and Confederate lives.