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Chapter 8:

The battle for the Union had now lasted two years without decisive results. The Union armies had met the enemy on many battle-fields; alternate victory and defeat had marked the contest. The Union forces had stretched from the lines of Virginia to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Mississippi to the Tennessee; gradually bringing within their folds the enemies of the nation. The loyal people had learned much in those two years. The Administration had been educated to an anti-slavery point. On the 22d of September, 1862, the President had issued his Proclamation of Freedom to the enslaved; and, before the end of the year 1863, what had been predicted by earnest [392] men at the commencement of the war, became a truth. ‘Africa was carried into the war;’ the black man made a soldier, with a musket in his hand, and on his body the uniform of a loyal volunteer. The colored men were to fight side by side with the whites for the unity of the nation, and the flag, which for the first time, but now for all time, symbolized liberty for all men.

The proclamation of liberty, and the employment of freedmen as soldiers in the Union army, were the practical embodiment of intelligent Massachusetts thought. The plan was favored from the beginning, and looked forward to with fond hopes, by Governor Andrew and prominent public men in the Commonwealth. They saw in this the certainty of a successful issue of the war. Upon the appearance of the President's proclamation, the Governor caused a hundred thousand copies of it to be printed, which, together with a circular addressed to the commanding officers of Massachusetts regiments, he forwarded to the front, with the expectation and hope that opportunities would occur to have them distributed within the enemy's lines; a thousand copies he also forwarded to General Rufus Saxton, commanding the Union forces in South Carolina. The proclamation was to take effect on the 1st of January, 1863. On the 2d, General Order No. 1 was issued by the Governor, which had reference to the proclamation; the opening paragraph of which was in these words:—

With the new year, America commences a new era of national life, in which we invoke the blessing of Heaven upon our country and its armies with renewed faith in the favor of Almighty God.

The order recapitulated the substance of the proclamation, and presented an argument for the blessings expected to flow from it, and concluded in these words:—

In honor of the proclamation, and as an official recognition of its justice and necessity by Massachusetts, which was the first of the United States to secure equal rights to all its citizens, it is ordered that a salute of one hundred guns be fired on Boston Common at noon the next day, Jan. 3.

Before the end of the year, Massachusetts had recruited two [393] regiments of colored troops, the first that were organized in any of the loyal States, and sent them forth into the war, armed and equipped in the best manner, and officered by the best men who had served in the volunteer army.

On the twenty-seventh day of December, 1862, Hon. Samuel Hooper, a member of Congress from this State, wrote to the Governor for his opinion in regard to the national finances: to which he replied, Jan. 5, that he did not consider himself qualified to express a definite opinion on the subject. On the contrary, ‘I feel,’ he says, ‘a degree of happiness in being in a position similar to that of the judge who congratulated himself that it was his privilege not to have any opinion on a complicated question of fact, on which it was the duty of the jury to make up their minds.’ The Governor said, however, that he should not run counter to Mr. Chase's system in regard to our national currency, but should decidedly favor it; that he had seen, a few days before, a letter, written to a friend in Boston by Joshua Bates, of London, concerning the conduct of our finances during the war, which he deemed to have been on the whole to our credit, although he criticised the issue of legal-tender notes, thinking we should have first resorted to borrowing on long loans; yet it was his opinion that it would have been absolutely impossible for us ultimately to avoid resorting to them.

We have already spoken of a sum of money collected in San Francisco, Cal., by citizens of that place, and forwarded to Governor Andrew, to be distributed among the families of Massachusetts volunteers in the war. When it was proposed in November, 1862, to raise the Second Regiment of Cavalry, men of Massachusetts birth, living in California, proposed to raise a company for the regiment; and a correspondence was opened through Mr. Rankin, Collector of the port of San Francisco, with the Governor, in regard to accepting it. Permission was given by Secretary Stanton to accept it, and the men were to be credited to the quota of Massachusetts. The company was raised by Captain J. Sewall Reed, of San Francisco. The passages of the officers and men were paid by this State; and the company arrived at ‘Camp Meigs,’ Readville, Jan. 4, 1863. [394] The Adjutant-General of the State was detailed to receive the company, in behalf of the Governor, at the camp, and to thank them in his name for the honor they had conferred on the State by coming so many miles to enter a Massachusetts regiment, and carry its flag in the war for liberty and Union. It was five o'clock in the morning when the company arrived. Colonel Charles R. Lowell, Jr., who was to command the regiment, Brigadier-General Peirce, Major Crowninshield, and a number of the line officers, were present to receive them.

On the arrival of the company, a salute was fired, and an escort of the cavalry conducted the company to their quarters, where a good warm breakfast had been prepared, and was ready for the men. The officers were taken to Colonel Lowell's quarters, where they were welcomed to Massachusetts by the Adjutant-General, whose speech, in behalf and in the name of the Governor, was responded to by Captain Reed; and in this way, on a cold January morning, were the Californians received, and took their places in the Union army on the Massachusetts line. In a report made by the Adjutant-General to the Governor on the same day, he says,—

To-morrow, at eleven o'clock, General Peirce, Colonel Lowell, and the officers of the California company, will pay their respects to your Excellency at the State House. The Californians are mostly Massachusetts men, though not exclusively so; some are from New York and New Hampshire; one is a native of California, a celebrated thrower of the lasso. The captain told me that five hundred men applied to go with him to Massachusetts. He selected his men with great care, and came with a full and complete company. I never saw a finer body of men;

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