By Adam Winer, author of How Dumb Are You?
Today's question: What was the first state to secede from the Union?
Answer: South Carolina. (If you got this wrong, you are dumber than 45% of America!)
The Scoop: Not only was South Carolina the first state to secede, but the first shots of the Civil War were also fired at Charleston Harbor's Fort Sumter. It was a battle full of interesting quirks. On April 11, 1861, Confederate forces ringed the South Carolina fort, which was low on supplies. When the fort's defenders refused to surrender, Confederates opened fire. And there you had it: Civil War!
But that barely scrapes the surface. The Union soldiers in the fort were so low on ammunition, they waited three hours before bothering to return fire. Over the course of the battle, Confederate troops fired some 4,000 rounds at their enemy. Amazingly, no one was killed. (Sounds kind of like an episode of The A-Team.) The Northern forces weathered 33 straight hours of bombardment, finally surrendering after a cannonball set their fort ablaze.
What makes the story even stranger is that when the troops finally surrendered, it wasn't even to the right person!