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Grant in 3-D, Fort Moultrie, and the blame for the first shot

April 12, 2011

What an embarrassment of riches … so many great articles, essays and interactives exploring the beginning of the Civil War. Here are few of my favorite pieces from the last few days:

(Photo credit: Matt Raymond, Library of Congress)

1. Civil War-era photos in 3-D. Sound strange? Let the Library of Congress explain: “Although 3-D technology seems new, stereo photography first became popular around the time of the Civil War. In fact, many Civil War photographs were made specifically to be viewed in 3-D. To bring the historical and modern 3-D methods closer together, the Library of Congress is featuring images of original Civil War stereographs in Flickr along with recently acquired digital anaglyphs made from several of the stereo views. Anaglyphs are those blurry images that pop into 3-D with the help of special glasses that have one red and one blue lens.”

2. “Civil War 150 Years” The Charleston Post and Courier has pulled together an impressive online package of interactive timelines and maps, slideshows, videos, a 20-part series on Charleston’s brutal wartime experiences, reader stories, and links to other sesquicentennial coverage from all over the web.

3. What about Fort Moultrie? Every April 12, Fort Sumter gets all the commemorative glory. But before South Carolina seceded, Maj. Robert Anderson and his Federal troops were stationed at Moultrie. The National Park Service website offers a fascinating history of the installation. I didn’t know Moultrie was used right up until the end of World War II. Also, don’t forget to check out the Online Documents section, where they’ve posted historical studies of Fort Moultrie’s battles by famed historian Edwin C. Bearss.

4. Fort Sumter history: C-SPAN 3 just posted a six-minute video of National Park Service Historian Rich Hatcher providing a snappy and informative briefing on how and why Sumter was built, how it was armed, and why, in the end, it was surrendered. Great little history.

(Photo credit: Library of Congress)

5. Who is to blame for first shot? The Washington Post pulled together a fantastic array of historians to argue over Abraham Lincoln’s decision to re-supply Fort Sumter and his underlying motivations, if any. Did he purposely provoke the Confederates into firing on the fort, thereby placing the blame for the start of hostilities on their shoulders? Was he simply following the example set by his predecessor, Democrat James Buchanan? Did Lincoln just hope for the best, hope for “cooler heads” to take charge of Southern secessionist passions? Read and find out.

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