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It all began at Fort Sumter.\nOn December 20, 1860, South Carolina seceded from the Union. Five days later, 68 federal troops stationed in Charleston, South Carolina, withdrew to FORT SUMTER, an island in CHARLESTON HARBOR. The North considered the fort to be the property of the United States government. The people of South Carolina believed it belonged to the new Confederacy. Four months later, the first engagement of the Civil War took place on this disputed soil.