Confederate re-enactors muster at Fort Moultrie on Sullivans Island on Monday, April 11, 2011. The 150th anniversary of the first shots of the Civil War is April 12, 2011. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith) By Bruce Smith
Michael Thurmond, of the Georgia Historical Society Board of Curators, speaks at a ceremony to dedicate a civil war marker in commemoration of the Battle of Atlanta, Monday, April 11, 2011 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman) By David Goldman
A civil war marker in commemoration of the Battle of Atlanta is unveiled as Georgia Historical Society board member Bill Todd, left, looks on during a ceremony Monday, April 11, 2011 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/David Goldman) By David Goldman
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) -- Somber music and thudding cannons around Charleston Harbor in South Carolina ushered in the commemoration of the nation's bloodiest conflict Tuesday.
The events re-creating the siege of Fort Sumter began the four-year national commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
Around 4 a.m., a single beam of light reached skyward from Fort Sumter. About half-hour later -- about the time of the first shots of the Civil War -- there was a second beam signifying a nation torn in two.
Later, an authentic 1847 seacoast mortar fired and was answered by cannons from around the harbor.
A Union re-enactor tossed a wreath into the water after which re-enactors in gray fired a 21-gun salute in memory of all who died on South Carolina soil. Two buglers then echoed "Taps."
In a dispatch to The Associated Press in 1861, an unnamed correspondent observed the fort's parapets crumbling under the pounding of artillery. He wrote of gun emplacements being "shot away" and shells falling "thick and fast."
"The ball has opened. War is inaugurated ... Fort Sumter has returned the fire and brisk cannonading has been kept up," the correspondent wrote.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)