On January 9, 1861, cadets from the South Carolina Military Academy, known today as The Citadel, arguably fired the first shots of the Civil War when they prevented a Union merchant ship, the Star of the West, from resupplying Union troops at Fort Sumter. Though it was April before Ft. Sumter was captured, this January incident was the first time shots were exchanged between North and South. South Carolina seceded from the Union on December 20, 1860, and demanded the immediate withdrawal of the Federal garrison at Fort Sumter. President James Buchanan refused. Inside the fort, Major Robert Anderson and 80 soldiers needed supplies. A supply ship was dispatched, the Star of the West. Two cannon shots roared from a South Carolina battery on Morris Island. They came from gunner George E. Haynsworth, a cadet at The Citadel in Charleston. Theshots, while poor, represented the opening salvo of the war. More shots were fired, and the ship suffered a hit. Above their battery on Morris Island, the cadets flew a red banner with a white palmetto and crescent. The Confederate South Carolina Big Red Flag was used during the Civil War. It had a red background, a palm tree, and a crescent.
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