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[165] Rebellion, though he was not of sufficient age to be a voter, his sympathies were most heartily with the party that took its name from the Constitution and the Union,—and opposed to the party which prevailed in the election. He attended the meetings, joined enthusiastically in the public demonstrations of the side he espoused, read the newspapers, and eagerly watched the contest. The agitation of the slavery question imperilled, as he believed, the existence of the Union, and he therefore opposed such agitation. Yet when the armed attack upon the Union came, it mattered not to him that it came from those whom in politics he had been regarding as friends, and that the government was in the hands of those whom in politics he had opposed; he was promptly ready to fight against all who sought to destroy it, and in alliance with all who would fight to maintain it.

Immediately after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, he began to prepare for military service. He joined a drill-club, practised the manual of arms, and acquainted himself with the duties of an officer. He did this at first without any defined purpose of going to the war, but because the times called for military training, and he wished to be ready for possible contingencies. The defeat of the national army in the first battle at Bull Run was the event that decided him. He applied at once for a commission, and obtained that of Second Lieutenant in the only regiment in which he ever served. The examples of others, doubtless, concurred with the high promptings of his own heart to lead him to join the army. He had, in so doing, the inspiring companionship of his near kinsmen,—the brothers Lowell, James and Charles, and William Lowell Putnam,—of college classmates, and many an old comrade at school. His younger brother, Frank, too, was at this time at home, recovering from his wounds after three months of campaigning in Virginia, and impatiently waiting to be well enough to go back and serve under the commission of Second Lieutenant of Artillery in the Regular Army, which he had just received from the Secretary of War. It was bestowed in recognition of the extraordinary bravery

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William Lowell Putnam (1)
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