Today marks the beginning of the Civil War 150 years ago with the firing on Ft Sumter. It took more than 4 years and 600,000 soldiers and the death of America's greatest President before the war finally came to an end and ushered in a fundamentally new United States. There are some really interesting web sites out there that bring to life the times: The Washington Post has a section devoted for the next 4 years: http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/civil-war UNC publishes this blog: http://www.lib.unc.edu/blogs/civilwar/ And finally- one of the great Love letters of all time - it brings tears to your eyes 150 years later- Maj Sullivan Ballou's letter to his wife (Maj Ballou was killed at the first Battle of Bull Run). If you ever want to know what all of those soldiers are giving up when the march off to this or any other war- read this. And if you ever want to feel inadequate in your own powers of communication with those you love- Read this: http://history-world.org/american_civil_war_letter.htm The civil war touched virtually everyone in the country- the dinky little towns of Worcester County Massachusetts - just tiny farm towns in 1861 saw almost 14,000 soldiers killed in the War. Having fought in the Battle of New Market in (May 15 1864) in which 10 Cadets were killed and 57 wounded VMI was subsequently shelled and burned to the ground (see picture). The real impact of the Civil War- the country was never again a plural:the united States"- rather it was "The United States"; and the elimination of slavery which was the greatest blot on the nation. We wouldn't be the country we are today without this cataclysmic event. So check out the links and pull out the Shelby Foote and James McPherson and Carl Sandburg and do some reading about the Civil War.