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Chapter 5:

The last chapter was finished on the thirtieth day of October, when an event occurred which brought sorrow to every true heart in the nation: John A. Andrew died on that day. The preceding pages of this work have exhibited, in an imperfect and feeble manner, a portion of the services which he rendered to his State and country in the hour of its greatest peril,—we say imperfect and feeble, because much which he did was never put in writing, and many of his best thoughts and wisest suggestions were the inspiration of the moment, and conveyed to his friends and subordinates in colloquial conversation. We had [217] known him long and well; and, during the five years of his administration as Governor of this Commonwealth, our connection was official and confidential. We saw him every day, and had occasion to consult him upon nearly every matter in relation to the part which Massachusetts took in the war. He was one of the few men whom we have known, upon whom public life worked no detriment to the simplicity, honesty, and kindness of their character. No man ever appeared in his presence to make a dishonest proposition. If any one approached him for such a purpose, he would not have had the hardihood to make it. His mind was active, and labor appeared to give him strength, rather than weakness. It was the wonder of us all, how he could stand so much bodily and mental labor. When not absent from the city upon business connected with the war, at Washington, he was in his room at the State House, like a skilful and steady pilot at the helm, guiding the Ship of State.

We all felt his loss when he was absent, and felt relieved when he returned. In the darkest hours of the war,—after the first Bull Run battle, the disastrous affair at Ball's Bluff in 1861, after the retreat of McClellan from before Richmond, and many of the stoutest hearts were despondent, and the peril of the nation oppressed the minds of men,—Governor Andrew never lost faith or hope in the ultimate success of our arms, and the favorable termination of the conflict. It was in these days of depression, these hours of sadness, that he shone forth with the brightness of the sun.

Never despair of the republic, was his motto, and guide of life. He infused hope into minds bordering almost on despair, and his acts corresponded with the promptings of his heart. We well remember one night, when the news of McClellan's retreat reached Boston; the papers were filled with accounts of the terrible disaster; the names of the dead and wounded of Massachusetts' bravest and best were arrayed in the ghastly bulletins transmitted from the front. That very night, the Governor said, ‘We must issue a new order, call for more men, incite recruiting, inspire hope, dispel gloom; this is the time which requires boldness, firmness, and every personal sacrifice.’ The order was [218] issued; it aroused the latent energies of the people; young men, who had not before thought of volunteering, offered themselves as recruits, eager to press forward to fill the gaps which disaster and death had made in our ranks: and so it was all through the war. He always had a kind word for the soldiers and their families, and he felt every word he spoke. It was no lip-service; it was no honeyed phrase; it was no politician's flattery. It was earnest talk, kind talk. Every one felt it, and were wiser men and truer patriots because of it.

This is not the time, nor this the place, to speak his eulogy. No one but Pericles could fitly pronounce the honors of the Athenian dead; and no one less gifted than the great orator of Greece can speak the eulogy of him whom we have lost.

It was fitting that the heart of Massachusetts should sigh when John A. Andrew died. It was fitting that his remains should be borne to the grave by those who knew him best, and loved him most,—the funeral cortege, as it wound its solemn way from the church in Arlington Street around the Common, past the State House, over the broad avenue leading from the city; the march of the Cadets, with reversed arms, keeping step to the funeral dirge; that the sidewalks should be crowded with well-dressed men and women, who bowed their heads, or raised their hats, as the coffin moved before them to its resting-place in Mount Auburn.

He was a private citizen when he died; he held no office; he had no honors to bestow: but his was a name beloved and cherished in all loyal hearts, and his was a death that moved them to the inmost core. He died when his manhood was in its prime; when the fruits of his wisdom and knowledge were ripening, and the future was holding out, with favoring hand, the highest honors of the republic; but—

‘He has gone on the mountain,
     He is lost to the forest,
Like a summer-dried fountain,
     When our need was the sorest.’

We pass from the contemplation of the character and merits of the dead to the consideration of his services while living.

We have already stated, that Francis B. Crowninshield, of [219] Boston, was appointed, in April, to proceed to England to purchase arms. Mr. Crowninshield discharged the important trust confided to him with great fidelity, and to the satisfaction of the Governor. It may be interesting to learn, from so intelligent a party, the state of feeling in England towards this country in the beginning of the war.

Mr. Crowninshield arrived in London on Sunday morning, the sixth day of May. He found, on his arrival, that there were a very few rifles for sale in England. The ‘Persia,’ the steamer in which he was a passenger, had taken out many orders to purchase. He found an agent there from South Carolina, to purchase arms for that State. New York had also sent out an agent in the same ship with him; but he did not know the fact until after his arrival in England. There were also several private speculators in the ship for the purchase of arms. Many telegrams were sent from Queenstown to England, on the arrival of the ‘Persia’ at that port. The London Times, the morning on which Mr. Crowninshield arrived in that city, contained the announcement that agents had come over to purchase rifles, which caused great excitement in the trade.

On arriving at Liverpool, Mr. McFarland, who had been employed to go with Mr. Crowninshield, was despatched to Birmingham, and directed to act promptly in the purchase of arms, if he found any there suitable for our purpose. John B. Goodman, the chairman of the gun trade in Birmingham, had the control of about twenty-five thousand Enfield rifles, of excellent quality, which could be delivered in a very short time. The current price for these arms was sixty shillings sterling each; a party stood ready to give one hundred shillings each for the lot to go South. The preference of purchase was given to Mr. Crowninshield, and he purchased two thousand of them at that price. One thousand of them were to be sent in the ‘Persia,’ on her return voyage. In London, he purchased two thousand eight hundred, at seventy shillings each; he also purchased two hundred from the London Armory, at sixty-five shillings each.


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