Did you know that in January 1861, the United States government hired The Star of the West to transport military supplies to Fort Sumter in South Carolina? The Star of the West was a wooden-hulled merchant steamship. A few weeks earlier, the state of South Carolina had declared that it had seceded from the United States. As the Star of the West approached Fort Sumter, military cadets from The Citadel, a military college, fired cannons on the Star of the West. While this clash marked the first shots being fired between the North and the South, it is not noted as the official start to the American Civil War.
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The South Carolinians had demanded the Union government to withdraw the federal garrison from Fort Sumter. While President Buchanan refused to comply, he also did not want to antagonize or act aggressively. When Fort Sumter needed to be resupplied, The Star of the West, a civilian ship was purposely sent, instead of a military transport.
After being fired upon, the Star of the West returned to New York. Later it was used as a troop transport ship. Eventually she was captured by the Confederates. They changed the name of the ship to the CSS St Philip and she served as a naval station and hospital ship.Eventually, the Star of the West was sunk across the Tallahatchie River to block Union forces.