At 4:30 on the morning of April 12, 1861—one hundred and fifty years ago this spring (2011)—Confederate States of America artillery opened fire on United States troops in Fort Sumter, South Carolina, beginning the American Civil War. Texans, who had voted overwhelmingly in February 1861 to secede from the Union and then watched their state join the Confederacy in March, thus became involved in a four-year conflict that would take the lives of many and leave none untouched. Texas escaped much of the terrible destruction of the war for a simple reason—United States troops never managed to invade and occupy the state's interior. Nevertheless; Texans paid a huge price for the war, primarily in terms of lives lost and ruined in the Confederate Army and in the privations of families left at home. The only Texans who benefited significantly from the war were the state's approximately 200,000 black slaves who gained freedom at the close of the conflict in 1865.
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