The cannonball that started the war, 156 years ago today

Published 8:13 pm Wednesday, April 12, 2017

In the pre-dawn hours of April 12, 1861, Confederate artillery units ringing Charleston Harbor had Fort Sumter in their sights. At 4:30 a.m., Edmund Ruffin, a secessionist from Virginia, was given the honor of signaling the beginning of the barrage, but an unidentified cannoneer fired prematurely.

Ruffin immediately fired his cannon, and the ball lodged in the wall about a foot from Captain Abner Doubleday’s head. Doubleday took the ball when the fort was surrendered. When he came to Polk County after the war, he brought the cannonball with him. The cannonball was handed down in the Doubleday Family for 125 years.

In 1986 Betty Doubleday Frost, grandniece of Abner Doubleday, donated this family treasure to the museum so future generations could see it.

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Visit the Polk County Historical Association Museum to see the cannonball that started the Civil War. To enjoy and learn about local history, drop by your PCHA Museum at 60 Walker Street, Columbus N.C. We are open Tuesday and Thursday 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; and by appointment.


Submitted by George Comparetto