GALENA, Ill. (WBBM) — It was 150 years ago this week when shots rang out at Fort Sumter in South Carolina, beginning a brutal Civil War that would take more than 600,000 American lives over the next four years.

As WBBM Newsradio 780’s Steve Miller reports, ceremonies in Galena on Tuesday will commemorate the northwest Illinois town’s connection to the first shots that were fired.

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The battles of the Civil War pitted friend against neighbor, and brother against brother.

Now in Galena’s Grant Park is the Blakely Rifled Cannon. It figured prominently in that first battle of the Civil War, which ultimately resulted in the Confederates’ capture of Fort Sumter.

“It was the premier weapon that the Confederates had during that Fort Sumter bombardment,” said Nancy Breed, the executive director of the Galena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society and Museum.

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Its rifled barrel made it fiercely accurate.

“It truly was the fiercest weapon in the Confederates’ artillery,” Nancy Breed said. “It was the only rifled cannon in all of North America.”

Rifling refers to making grooves in the barrel of the cannon – grooves which would spin the 12-pound projectiles for more accuracy.

Union troops took the cannon near the end of the war, and it was placed in Galena’s Grant Park in 1896.

“It still rests there today as a reminder of Americans’ battle against each other,” Breed said.

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