Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't bombarding Fort Sumter mark the beginning of the rebellion? Having chosen war to gain control of the fort, the South can hardly complain just because it didn't turn out the way they had hoped. They have only themselves to blame for losing.
Yes, Fort Sumter was fired upon after repeated warnings to quit re-supplying the fort. Fort Sumter was in a tactical position to enforce federal tariffs, which South Carolina was paying in a far disproportionate manner.
John C. Calhoun had raised hell about this for decades in the 20s and 30s.
This war was inevitable after Lincoln and his Radical Republicans took the reins of power.
We can re-visit this issue if you want, but it has been beaten to death on this site and Im pretty sure that everyone is fed up with it.
With all the back and forth on this site, there was still no consensus and the wounds resulting from the war remain pretty raw; despite the fact that none of us were there.
So, lets just leave it as an issue that we all agree to disagree on.
However, since you asked about Ft. Sumter, lets have a BRIEF discussion of Ft. Sumter: On December 26, 1860, six days after South Carolina declared its secession, U.S. Army Major Robert Anderson abandoned the indefensible Fort Moultrie and secretly relocated companies E and H (127 men, 13 of them musicians) of the 1st U.S. Artillery to Fort Sumter without orders from Washington, on his own initiative. He thought that providing a stronger defense would delay an attack by South Carolina militia.
The Fort was not yet complete at the time and fewer than half of the cannons that should have been available were not, due to military downsizing by President James Buchanan. Over the next few months, repeated calls for the United States evacuation of Fort Sumter from the government of South Carolina and later Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard were ignored. United States attempts to resupply and reinforce the garrison were repulsed on January 9, 1861 when the first shots of the war, fired by cadets from The Citadel prevented the steamer Star of the West, a ship hired by the Union to transport troops and supplies to Fort Sumter, from completing the task.
After realizing that Andersons command would run out of food by April 15, 1861, President Lincoln ordered a fleet of ships, under the command of Gustavus V. Fox, to attempt entry into Charleston Harbor and support Fort Sumter.
So, lets review what the first provocative act was. From the Union side, it was the South seceeding from the Union and, later, firing on Ft. Sumter. Im not going to debate the merits of this because it has been debated to death, like the rest of the Civil War, and the argument remains open to interpretation.
From the Southern perspective, the increasing argument between abolitionists in the North and slave-owners in the south came to a head in the 1850s and peaked with the election of Lincoln. While Lincoln was not necessarily considered an abolitionist (in the strictest sense of the term), he had proposed (and later enacted legislation in support of) limiting slavery to the states where it already existed and preventing its expansion.
For the south, primarily an agricultural area, the use of slaves allowed southern farmers and plantation owners to meet the ever growing demand for more food by a growing nation and still keep prices low. So, the threat that Lincolns election represented was the end of the souths primary means of generating income.
From the perspective of provocation, then, it depends on which side of the fence you stand on. With respect to this discussion, AFAIC, it is at an end. Im not going to debate the Civil War and its causes ad infinitum again. Weve all been there and done that and this discussion is closed.