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BOSTON, April 15, 1861.
To HON. SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War:
SIR: I have received telegrams from yourself and Brigadier-General Thomas, admonishing me of a coming requisition for twenty companies of sixty-four privates each; and I have caused orders to be distributed to bring the men into Boston before to-morrow night, and to await orders. Allow me to urge the issue of an order to the Springfield (Mass.) Armory, to double the production of arms at once, and to push the work to the utmost. If any aid by way of money or credit is needed from Massachusetts, I hope to be at once apprised. An extra session of our General Court can be called immediately, if need be; and, if called, it will respond to any demand of patriotism.
And I beg you would permit, in addition to suggesting the utmost activity at the Springfield Armory, to urge that the armory at Harper's Ferry be discontinued, and its tools, machinery, and works be transferred elsewhere, or else that it be rigidly guarded against seizure, of the danger of which I have some premonitions. If any more troops will certainly be needed from Massachusetts, please signify it at once, since I should prefer receiving special volunteers for active militia to detailing any more of our present active militia, especially as many most efficient gentlemen would like to raise companies or regiments, as the case may be, and can receive enlistments of men who are very ready to serve.
Allow me also to suggest that our forts in Boston Harbor are entirely unmanned. If authorized, I would put a regiment into the forts at any time.
Two of my staff spent last Saturday in making experiments of the most satisfac tory character with Shenkle's new invention in projectiles; and so extraordinary was the firing that I have directed eighteen guns to be rifled, and projectiles to be made. May I commend this invention to the examination of the United States Government?
I am happy to add that I find the amplest proof of a warm devotion to the country's cause on every hand to-day. Our people are alive. Yours,
On the morning of the 16th, ments began to arrive in Boston. heard in our streets continued stirring notes of martial music.
JOHN A. ANDREW. companies of the departing regiThe fife and the drum which were daily, for four years, to sound the
The 19th of April, which is one of the days sacred to American history, on account of the battle of Lexington, this year received an additional interest from the events that were transpiring. It was celebrated by the ringing of bells, flag-raisings and speeches, a drill on Boston Common by one of the artillery companies, and at noon by the firing of one hundred guns in honor of the day.
While the people were thus actively engaged in celebrating the day, news was received that the Sixth Regiment had been attacked in the streets of Baltimore. The most intense excitement followed. Men gathered in groups about the streets, while crowds surrounded the bulletin boards of the newspapers to learn the particulars.
If anything was needed to arouse the patriotism of the North, it had now occurred. Public meetings were held in various parts of the city. Merchants, lawyers, physicians, and members of other professions met, and offers of service and money were proffered for the use of the State. Large loans were generously offered by the Boston banks and by the banks of other cities, for the State's immediate use, trusting to the honor of the Legislature to reimburse them, when it met. Numerous offers of money were made to the Governor by private individuals, as aid to soldiers' families. Nor were women lagging behind the men in enthusiasm. Rich and poor, high and low, all offered their services for the preparation of bandages and lint, the making of garments, attendance in hospitals, or any other service compatible with their sex.
Business seemed, for the time, to be forgotten in the excitement. The minds of men were too much disturbed to give proper attention to other matters. Only one subject possessed the public mind, to protect the government from the clutches of traitorous hands.
It was under the influence of these patriotic demonstrations, as exhibited in all the cities and towns of Massachusetts during the first months of the war, that our regiment was enrolled. Many of the young men who left lucrative positions were guaranteed them on their return, by their employers. The generous impulses of all were awakened by the danger that threatened the country.
The first four companies, A, B, C, and D, were known as the Fourth Battalion of Rifles, and were raised in Boston.
On the 21st of September, 1821, Governor John Brooks, on the petition of John S. Tyler and others, authorized the formation of a military company in the then town of Boston, and this company was called the Boston City Greys, subsequently changed to the Boston City Guards, by which name it was known at the breaking out of the war. It passed through the various vicissitudes of
military companies until the year 1860. In the month of July of that year, a committee consisting of James A. Fox, W. F. Davis, D. H. Bradlee, N. S. Dearborn, and A. N. Sampson were appointed to nominate a captain and third and fourth lieutenants to fill vacancies caused by resignations.
At this time the company had been reduced in numbers so that it was felt to be highly important that a man should be selected as captain whose reputation as an officer would invite young men to enlist under his command. The "Boston Light Infantry (Tigers)," the "New England Guards," and the "Boston City Guards" formed a part of the Second Massachusetts Militia Regiment. Boston was an exception to the large cities of the country in not having a regiment of its own. The Second Regiment, Massachusetts militia, was commanded by Col. Robert Cowdin, and consisted of only seven companies.
Samuel H. Leonard having transferred his residence from Worcester to Boston, was obliged to resign his commission as brigadiergeneral, as an officer could not hold a commission outside the limits of the district where he resided.
He was an officer of wide reputation as one of the most skilful and thorough drill-masters in the State. It had long been a scheme of his to form a rifle battalion of which he should have the command. At musters and parades a rifle battalion had the right of the line, except when the Boston or Salem Cadets were present; hence the particular interest in a rifle battalion.
The committee appointed by the Boston City Guards waited on General Leonard and offered him the captaincy of their company. He accepted the compliment thus offered, upon the condition that they would agree to enlist a second company, to be joined with the City Guards, thus forming a battalion, and changing the arms from muskets to rifles. This was agreed to, and General Leonard petitioned the Governor and Council to set off the City Guards from the Second Regiment for this purpose, and authority was given him to form a rifle battalion, using that company as a nucleus thereof. The City Guards was called Company A in the new battalion, and on the 15th of December, 1860, proceeded to an election of officers, with the following result:
Immediately following this election, privates Thomas J. Little and Augustus N. Sampson, with fifty-one others, petitioned the Governor and Council for leave to form a new company, which was subsequently known as Company B. As soon as a sufficient number of men had been enlisted, an election of officers was had, resulting as follows, the election taking place on the 29th of March, 1861:
SAMUEL H. LEONARD.
JAMES A. Fox.
WILLIAM F. DAVIS.
CHARLES S. CHANDLER.
On the 23d of April, Lieutenant Bradlee having been elected adjutant of the battalion, Horace T. Rockwell was elected Fourth Lieutenant and Messrs. Hovey and Sampson were each promoted.
N. WALTER BATCHELDER.
JOSEPH S. CAry.
DAVID H. BRADLEE.
JOHN G. HOVEY.
While this work was going on John Kurtz and others were engaged in recruiting a third company, which was subsequently known as Company C, with an election of officers which occurred on the 29th of April, 1861, as follows:
Company D was organized as follows:
After the Mexican War a military company was formed composed of veterans who had served in Massachusetts regiments during that
period. The company took the name "Massachusetts Volunteers,"
SAMUEL N. CHAMBERLAIN.
WILLIAM H. CARY.
It should be borne in mind that in raising these companies the impetus given to enlistments by the startling events already described made it quite easy to obtain all the men needed to complete the organizations to the maximum number required. As a matter of fact, so many men offered to enlist that it was decided to accept only those who were voted in and who were willing to pay $12.50. This sum, added to moneys received by subscription, was expended in the purchase of uniforms, each man being measured to ensure their fitting. The jacket was tight-fitting, with a short skirt. The effective shoulder-knots and trimmings were red, and the uniform gray. The cap was gray trimmed with scarlet and surmounted with a pompon. It made a handsome, serviceable uniform, and gave a very appearance to the battalion.
time elapsed before the uniforms were finished, we were