previous next

[8] would be, ‘from age, physical defect, business or family cares, unable or indisposed to respond at once to the orders of the commander-in-chief,’ in order that they might be ‘forthwith discharged, so that their places may be filled by men ready for any public emergency which may arise, whenever called upon. This once done, no discharge could be granted unless for cause satisfactory to the commander-in-chief.’ From the moment when this order was issued Massachusetts had begun to be placed on a war footing.

The time for actual fighting, however, soon came. It is said that on April 12, 1861, the Senate of Ohio was in session and was vainly trying, amid suppressed excitement, to settle down to its ordinary routine. Suddenly a senator came hastily in from the lobby, and, catching the chairman's eye, exclaimed, ‘Mr. President, the telegraph announces that the secessionists are bombarding Fort Sumter.’ There was a moment's hush, which was broken by a woman's shrill voice from the spectators' seats, crying ‘Glory to God.’ ‘It startled every one,’ says a spectator, ‘almost as if the enemy were in the midst.’1 The scene was Ohio, but the voice was a voice from Massachusetts, for the speaker was Abby Kelly Foster of Worcester, one of the most daring and self-devoted of the early abolitionists, a woman whose tones had always a peculiar and thrilling quality, as of one crying in the wilderness. She now uttered the impulse of many who saw at a glance that the death struggle between freedom and slavery had come. The next day the Union flag fluttered over myriads of roofs in the great Northern cities, and political differences appeared annihilated. In Massachusetts, whatever had looked like pro-slavery sympathy in the great Democratic party seemed for the moment to vanish, as by magic, and appeared afterwards, if at all, in the form of too suspicious a criticism.


Iii. The first volunteer company.

The first company newly organized for the Civil War in Massachusetts and probably in the Northern States was that formed in Cambridge, Mass., by Capt. (afterwards colonel) James P. Richardson, the call for which company appeared in the Cambridge Chronicle, Jan. 5, 1861 (the very day of the new governor's inauguration), and in posters of the same date. The call

1 Gen. Jacob D. Cox, in Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (Century War Book), I, 85.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
James P. Richardson (1)
Abby Kelly Foster (1)
Jacob D. Cox (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
April 12th, 1861 AD (1)
January 5th, 1861 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: