CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Cannons boomed around Charleston Harbor Tuesday, to recreate the bombardment of Fort Sumter that plunged the nation into the Civil War on April 12, 1861.
The South Carolina ceremony began with the four-year national commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the nation's bloodiest war.
Around 4 a.m. Tuesday, a single beam of light was aimed skyward from Fort Sumter. Then about half-hour later -- around the time of the first shots of the war -- the beam split into two beams, signifying a nation torn in two.
The war resulted in more than 600,000 deaths, although during the bombardment of Sumter only a Confederate officer's horse was killed.
Union troops in the fort surrendered after absorbing 36 hours of Confederate shells.