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Sesquicentennial of First Civil War Shot Observed by Relative at Peterboro Civil War Weekend

At 4:30 a.m. April 12, 1861, Confederate Troops under General Pierre G.T. Beauregard began shelling Fort Sumter, an island garrison in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, held by Union troops under the command of Major Robert Anderson.  Edmund Ruffin, a 65 year old Virginian serving as an honorary member of the South Carolina Palmetto Guards, allegedly was chosen to fire the first shot on Sumter because he was the oldest member.  The firing on Fort Sumter was the first action of the War Between the States.

Nancy Douglas of Morrisville NY, who shares a common ancestor with Edmund Ruffin, will present information on her relative at 11:00 a.m. Saturday June 11 at the 19th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend. A retired Morrisville State College physics and math professor, Douglas’ hobbies now include local history and her family history. Raised in Arkansas, Douglas’ family lore has it that Ruffin considered it an honor to have fired the first shot of the Civil War. Secessionist Ruffin had left Virginia because Virginia was not as quick as South Carolina to secede. Devastated by the Confederacy’s loss of the war, and driven by his hatred of Yankees, Ruffin also may have fired the last shot of the war. Placing a pistol to his head he ended his life June 17, 1865.

Called the “Father of Soil Chemistry” because of his study of the soil depletion of tidewater farms, Edmund Ruffin had distinguished himself as an agriculturist. His success with crop rotation and using lime to raise the pH in peat bogs made significant differences in southern agriculture. Ruffin published The Farmer’s Register. He also served in the Virginia legislature and was president of the Virginia State Agricultural Society. The public is encouraged to attend Douglas’ family perspective on the famous relative.

Nancy Douglass of Morrisville
Nancy Douglass of Morrisville, who shares a common ancestor with Edmund Ruffin (who fired the first shot of the Civil War) will present on her relative at 11:00 a.m. Saturday June 11 at the 19th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend.

Ruffin Portrait           Ruffin Portrait
  Portraits of Edmund Ruffin courtesy of The National Archives and TheLatinLibrary.com.