On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on federal troops stationed at Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina. With that, the Civil War had begun. For nearly four years, the conflict that divided the United States into North and South would engulf more than 3 million Americans and claim 620,000 lives. The war marked a defining point in American history, and its effects are still felt today. ""The Outbreak of the Civil War"" examines the factors that led the nation to war. At the heart of these were differing positions on slavery, states' rights, and the future shape of the United States. The battles first waged in Missouri, in Kansas, in political parties, in the Supreme Court, and in the U.S. Senate set the stage for the violence that divided Americans and led the United States into civil war.