The Civil War began on April 12, 1861, when Confederate batteries shelled Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The Confederate commander at the scene was Pierre Gustave T. Beauregard, though his authority to fire on the fort had been granted by Jefferson Davis.
Neither side wished to take responsibility for firing the first shot of the Civil War. The proximate cause of the attack on Fort Sumter was President Lincoln's stated intent to reprovision the fort under the guns of the South Carolina batteries. Fearing that the Union would use the fort to recapture Charleston, the Confederate forts sustained a barrage that lasted 34 hours and killed one mule.