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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ohio's Oddest Veteran's Monument: Honors Rebel Who Fired First Shot

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- Today is Veteran's Day, and it honors those who sacrificed and served their nation in wartime and peace. But few know that Ohio has erected a historical marker that commemorates the birthplace of an enemy soldier, the man who launched the bloodiest war in American history. The tribute to the traitor is in Worthington near Columbus.

Roswell Sabin Ripley was the Confederate officer who commanded the artillery brigade that shelled Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. That event in Charleston Harbor was the start of the Civil War, and Ripley's order to open fire began four years of deadly struggle between the North and South.

Ripley, who rose to the rank of brigadier general, was born in Worthington near Columbus. He was a West Pointer from Ohio who volunteered for the Confederate Army after secession. His Ohio historical marker was erected in 2004, and it seems a bit out of place in a state that gave thousands of lives to preserve the Union. Chet Bennett has given biographical talks about Roswell Ripley and describes the day the Civil War started:

"On December 20, 1860 South Carolina seceded from the Union. A few days later Major Robert Anderson abandoned Fort Moultrie on Sullivan's Island and moved his forces to Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Before leaving Fort Moultrie, Anderson spiked the cannons, burned the gun carriages and damaged the hot-shot furnaces. Roswell Ripley, now a lieutenant in the South Carolina Militia, repaired the damage done by Anderson to put Fort Moultrie in fighting condition. On April 12 1861, following orders from his commanding officer in Charleston, General P.G.T. Beauregard, Ripley's artillery began the bombardment of Fort Sumter. Captain Abner Doubleday, who was at Fort Sumter, knew Ripley from the USMA and was aware Ripley was in command at Fort Moultrie. Doubleday stated in his official report that Ripley ". . . being a man of talent and a skillful artillerist did us a great deal of harm."

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