Chapter 1: introductory and explanatory.
Often during the four years of the late civil war we were reminded of the words of Mr. Webster
in a speech made by him in the Massachusetts Convention of 1820 for the amendment of the Constitution
of this Commonwealth.
They are as follows:—
‘I would not be thought to be among those who underrate the value of military service.
My heart beats, I trust, as responsive as any one's to a soldier's claim for honor or renown.
It has ever been my opinion, however, that, while celebrating the military achievements of our countrymen in the Revolutionary contest, we have not always done equal justice to the merits and the sufferings of those who sustained, in their property and in their means of subsistence, the great burden of the war. Any one who has had occasion to be acquainted with the records of the New-England towns knows well how to estimate those merits and those sufferings.
Nobler records of patriotism exist nowhere.
Nowhere can there be found higher proofs of a spirit that was ready to hazard all, to pledge all, to sacrifice all, in the cause of the country.
Instances were not unfrequent in which small freeholders parted with their last hoof, and last measure of corn from their granaries, to supply provisions for the troops, and hire service for the ranks.
The voice of Otis and of Adams, in Faneuil Hall, found its full and true echo in the little councils of the interior towns: and, if within ’