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Local Connection To The First Shot Of The Civil War

Morrisville, NY (WIBX) –  Tuesday marks the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War, and a retired Morrisville State College professor shares a common ancestor with the man who may have fired the war’s first shot at the battle of Fort Sumter.

Edmund Ruffin left his home state of Virginia, upset that Virginia had not seceded from the Union. Ruffin went to South Carolina and joined the Palmetto Guards.

Ruffin, also called the “Father of Soil Chemistry”, was an avid supporter of states’ rights and slavery, and was known as a distinguished argiculturalist because of his study of soil depletion of tidewater farms, according to Dorothy Willsey, president of the National Abolition Hall of Fame in Peterboro, NY.

As the story goes, Ruffin, who was 65 at the time, was selected to fire the first round because he was the unit’s oldest member, Willsey said.

A relative of Ruffin, Nancy Douglas, has turned history into a hobby of hers and will make a presentation on Ruffin during the 19th Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend on June 11, 2011, at 11:00 a.m.

Some accounts say a Conferderate Captain George James fired the first shot, others say it was Henry Saxon Farley, still others believe the ‘first shot’ of the war dates back to January of 1861 when the Union ship “Star of the West” was attacked.

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