Edmund Ruffin was an accomplished Virginia plantation owner who pioneered the use of scientific agricultural methods. Prior to the Confederate era, he became famous for championing the cause of Southern independence. Edmund Ruffin and other advocates of secession earned the moniker, “Fire Eaters" for their passionate orations that called for an independent Southern nation.
Just before dawn on April 12, 1861, the shore batteries in Charleston harbor prepared to fire on the Union held, Fort Sumter. In one battery, Edmund Ruffin was given the honor of firing the first shot, which arched across the water and fell into the fort. The next day the garrison at Fort Sumter ran up a white flag and surrendered.
A superb resource for scholars and students is the
three volumes of The Diary of Edmund Ruffin,
by William K. Scarborough