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[283]

Chapter 6:


At the close of the year 1861 and the beginning of 1862, Massachusetts had filled every demand made upon her for troops, and most of them had been sent to the front. The Twenty-eighth, Thirtieth, and Thirty-first Regiments, nearly recruited to the maximum, were yet in camp; but they were sent forward in January and February, 1862. Massachusetts regiments and batteries were in front of Washington and at Fortress Monroe; five regiments were at Annapolis, ready to embark in General Burnside's expedition against North Carolina. One regiment and a battery were at Ship Island, in Mississippi, waiting orders from General Butler. In the Army of the Potomac, we were [284] the strongest. Gunboats officered and manned by Massachusetts men kept watch and ward on the Southern coast, or carried the flag upon far-off seas. Officers remained here on recruiting service; and enlistments were made to complete new regiments, and to fill the depleted ranks of those at the seat of war. Wounded officers and soldiers were at home on furlough or discharged for disability. The ‘empty sleeve’ was seen daily in our streets; and maimed veterans hobbled up the steps of the State House on crutches, on their return from distant hospitals, to show their honorable discharge papers, and tell in modest words of their toils and dangers.

The Legislature met at the State House, on Wednesday, Jan. 1, 1862. Hon. John H. Clifford, of New Bedford, formerly Governor of the State, was chosen President of the Senate, and Stephen N. Gifford, clerk. On taking the chair, Mr. Clifford referred to the present state of the country, to the war which existed, and to the duties which were imposed upon the Legislature. They were then in a new and untried exigency of public affairs, and subject to the solemn and momentous responsibilities which attach themselves to every position of public trust.

We should fail, I am sure, to reflect the prevailing sentiment of the people of Massachusetts, and show ourselves unworthy the generous confidence of our respective constituents, if we could permit a word of party strife to be uttered within these walls. Whatever may be his professions, he is no true patriot, who, in this season of his country's peril, cannot rise to such a height as to lose sight of all those lines of political difference, which, in more peaceful and prosperous times, have divided the people of the Commonwealth, or who is not ready to sacrifice every thing but principle to make and keep them a united people. Already have the gallant sons of Massachusetts, native and adopted, of every class and condition, and holding every variety of opinion upon controverted questions of policy and principle, marched as a band of brothers to the field to uphold the common flag, or to fall in its defence.

Hon. Caleb Cushing, of Newburyport, senior member, called the House to order; in doing which, he made a short address, and referred to his services as a member in years that were past, and said,— [285]

At other times, the wordy warfare of party, the strifes of faction might be tolerated and endured, if not encouraged and applauded. Such is not the present hour. Higher and greater thoughts occupy us now. I confidently believe that you, gentlemen, will prove yourselves equal to the emergency; that you will rise to the height of your duties; and that, taking the Constitution for your loadstar and your guide through the troubles of the times, you will dedicate yourselves to the single object of contributing, with heart and soul, to uphold, to re-establish, and to perpetuate our sacred and beloved Union. That we resolve and determine to do, with the good help of God.

The House then made choice of Hon. Alexander H. Bullock, of Worcester, Speaker of the House: he received every vote cast. William S. Robinson, of Malden, was elected clerk. On taking the chair, Mr. Bullock also referred to the existing war, and to the duty of Massachusetts in regard thereto.

More than thirty thousand of the men of Massachusetts are at this moment far from home, in arms, to preserve the public liberties along the Upper and Lower Potomac, among the islands and deltas of the Gulf, or wherever else they have been called to follow that imperilled but still radiant flag.

He closed with these words: ‘In the service of the State at all times, but especially at the present, the least of duties is a part of the impressive whole.’

On Friday, Jan. 3, the two branches met in convention to administer the oath of office to the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor elect, and to listen to the annual address.

The Governor, in his address, made a broad survey of the military field of observation, and the part which Massachusetts had taken in the war during the year preceding. The amount of money expended by the State, for war purposes, was $3,384,--649.88, of which there had been reimbursed, by the United States, the sum of $987,263.54; leaving an unpaid balance of about $2,500,000. This was exclusive of the amount paid by the several cities and towns of the Commonwealth for the support of the families of soldiers, under the act passed at the extra session of 1861, which amounted, in the aggregate, to about $250,000, which was to be reimbursed from the treasury of [286] the State, and raised by direct taxation upon the property in the Commonwealth. Upwards of half a million of dollars had been expended in the purchase of Enfield rifles, and about twenty-four thousand dollars for English infantry equipments. Five thousand more Enfield rifles had been contracted for in England; but the English Government had placed an interdict against the export of arms and munitions of war to this country, which prevented, for a time, the completion of the contract. The Governor also referred, at considerable length, to the coast defences of Massachusetts, and the exertions which he had made to have them placed in proper condition.

Next to the harbor defences of Boston in importance was the harbor of Provincetown, at the end of Cape Cod, which was accessible in all weathers without a pilot, with excellent anchorage, in which whole navies might ride in safety. It was best adapted to be the base of naval operations. It was utterly undefended, and could easily be taken from us by the enemy. The Governor, in referring to other matters, not of a military character, speaks of the national cause; and as the result of the war, which is but the revolt of slavery, he regards its ultimate extinction as inevitable. ‘Yet I mean, as I have done since the beginning of secession, to continue to school myself to silence; nor can I suspect that my opinions can be misconceived; nor do I believe that the faith of Massachusetts can be mistaken or misinterpreted.’

The only question which he could entertain is what to do, and, when that was answered, is what next to do; ‘for by deeds, and not by words, is this people to accomplish their salvation.’ The great rebellion was to be put down, and its promoters crushed beneath the ruins of their own ambition; and now, he says,—

When the beauty of their Israel has been slain in our high places, and when her

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