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Chapter 2:

The call for troops, mentioned in the last paragraph of the preceding chapter, came from Washington by telegraph, through Henry Wilson, of the United-States Senate; which was dated April 15, 1861, and asked for twenty companies, to be sent on separately. In the course of the day, formal requisitions were received from the Secretary of War and the Adjutant-General of the Army for two full regiments. By command of Governor Andrew, Special Order No. 14 was immediately issued by the [50] Adjutant-General, and was forwarded, by mail and by special messengers, to Colonel Wardrop of the Third Regiment, at New Bedford; Colonel Packard of the Fourth, at Quincy; Colonel Jones of the Sixth, at Pepperell; and Colonel Monroe of the Eighth, at Lynn. The order was to muster the regiments under their command in uniform on Boston Common forthwith, ‘in compliance with a requisition made by the President of the United States: the troops are to go to Washington.’ An order was also issued to fill all existing vacancies in regimental and line officers, waiving the usual notice.

The reason for ordering four regiments when only two had been called for was, that, by detaching strong companies from weak regiments, the two called for might be filled to the maximum.

The call aroused the people of the entire State to instant action. The State House became the great centre of interest. The Governor's room and the Adjutant-General's quarters were crowded with citizens, tendering their services in whatever capacity they could be made useful. Telegrams were received from military and civil officers, living in remote parts of the Commonwealth, making the same generous and patriotic offers. As if by magic, the entire character of the State was changed: from a peaceful, industrious community, it became a camp of armed men; and the hum of labor gave place to the notes of fife and drum.

On the morning of the 16th of April, the companies began to arrive in Boston; and, before nightfall, every company that had received its orders in time reported at headquarters for duty.

There has been some controversy in military circles as to which company can claim the honor of first reaching Boston. I can answer, that the first were the three companies of the Eighth Regiment belonging to Marblehead, commanded by Captains Martin, Phillips, and Boardman. I had been at the State House all night; and, early in the morning, rode to the Arsenal at Cambridge, to ascertain whether the orders from headquarters, to send in arms, ammunition, overcoats, and equipments, had been properly attended to. Messengers had also been stationed [51] at the different depots, with orders for the companies, on their arrival, to proceed at once to Faneuil Hall, as a north-easterly storm of sleet and rain had set in during the night, and had not abated in the morning. On my return from Cambridge, I stopped at the Eastern Railroad Depot. A large crowd of men and women, notwithstanding the storm, had gathered there, expecting the arrival of troops. Shortly after eight o'clock, the train arrived with the Marblehead companies. They were received with deafening shouts from the excited throng. The companies immediately formed in line, and marched by the flank directly to Faneuil Hall; the fifes and drums playing ‘Yankee Doodle,’ the people following and shouting like madmen, and the rain and sleet falling piteously as if to abate the ardor of the popular welcome. And thus it was the Marblehead men entered Faneuil Hall on the morning of the 16th of April.

It is impossible to overstate the excitement which pervaded the entire community through this eventful week. The railroad depots were surrounded with crowds of people; and the companies, as they arrived, were received with cheers of grateful welcome. Banners were suspended, as if by preconcerted arrangement. The American flag spread its folds to the breeze across streets, from the masts of vessels in the harbor, from the cupola of the State House, the City Hall, in front of private dwellings; and men and boys carried miniature flags in their hands or on their hats. The horse-cars and express-wagons were decked with similar devices; and young misses adorned their persons with rosettes and ribbons, in which were blended the national red, white, and blue. In the streets, on 'Change and sidewalk, in private mansion and in public hotel, no topic was discussed but the approaching war, the arrival and departure of the troops, and measures best adapted for their comfort and welfare. Every one was anxious to do something, and in some way to be useful. Young men, wishing to raise new companies and proffer services, pressed to the offices of the Governor and the Adjutant-General. These offices, the rotunda, and the passages leading to the State House, were filled with zealous and determined people. Faneuil Hall, Boylston Hall, the hall over the Old-Colony Railroad Depot, where companies [52] were quartered, had each its living mass of excited spectators. Every train which arrived at Boston brought in relatives, friends, and townsmen of the soldiers, to say a kind word at parting, to assure them that their families would be well cared for while they were absent, and to add to the general enthusiasm and excitement of the occasion.

During the entire week, wagons were bringing in, from the State Arsenal at Cambridge, clothing, arms, ammunition, and other munitions of war, to be deposited, prior to distribution, in Faneuil Hall and the State House. On Saturday, the 13th of April, two days prior to the call for troops, the Adjutant-General, by direction of the Governor, had written to the Secretary of War, asking the privilege of drawing, from the United-States Armory at Springfield, two thousand rifled muskets in advance of the annual quota becoming due; also urging the President to order two regiments of volunteers to garrison Fort Warren and Fort Independence in Boston harbor, to be there drilled and exercised, until called by the President for active service in the field. Neither request was granted.

While the troops ordered out were getting to Boston with all diligence, and making ready for instant departure, another telegram was received (April 16) from Senator Wilson, stating that Massachusetts was to furnish immediately four regiments, to be commanded by a brigadier-general; on receipt of which, orders were issued for the Fifth Regiment to report, and, on the 17th, Brigadier-General Benjamin F. Butler was detailed to command the troops.

By six o'clock on the afternoon of the 16th, the Third, Fourth, and Sixth Regiments were ready to start. The headquarters of the Third was in the hall over the Old-Colony Railroad Depot; that of the Fourth at Faneuil Hall; that of the Sixth in the armory of the Second and Fourth Battalions, at Boylston Hall, over the Boylston Market.

While these regiments were getting ready, offers to raise new companies of militia came from all parts of the State. The Adjutant-General, in his Report for 1861, says, ‘From the 13th of April to the 20th of May, one hundred and fifty-nine applications were granted to responsible parties for leave to [

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