Monday, February 1, 2010

Excerpts from the Journal of Horace Purdy (1st Connecticut Volunteers) April 13th - 18th 1861 - the Fall of Fort Sumter and the Call for Volunteers

These entries reflect the attack on Fort Sumter and President Abraham Lincoln's subsequent call for 75,000 volunteer troops. Purdy's response was typical for many of the young men of the time. He enlisted without hesitation despite his job, obligations to his church, and the fact that his wife was pregnant with their first child.

Saturday April 13th 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“It is reported in the papers today that the rebel batteries together with Fort Moultry [sic] have opened fire on Major Anderson in Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor S. Carolina and the Major has returned fire. I went into the street in the eve to get the news if there was any. The news by telegraph states that Fort Sumter is on fire with the flag at half mast and the Harriet Lane is on fire. It may be correct and perhaps not”.

[The attack began on April 12th and Anderson surrendered at 2:30 PM on the 13th. The garrison was evacuated the following day. The rumor that the USRC Harriet Lane was on fire was incorrect].

Sunday April 14th 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“The telegraph has been at work all day receiving the war news. It says that Fort Sumter is on fire and Major Anderson has surrendered to the rebel forces under Gen. Beauregard. I don’t believe it myself, neither shall I until I hear something more tomorrow”.

Monday April 15th 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“The surrender of Major Anderson at Fort Sumter is confirmed. The fire from the rebel batteries was too hot for him, burning the inside of the fort until all the wood work the officers’ quarters was consumed by the red hot shot and shell. The President has issued a call for 75,000 troops from the militia of the adhering states”.

Tuesday April 16th 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“Our Co[mpany] assembled at the drill room in the eve. We are expecting to be called into the service of the government immediately as the President has issued a call for 75,000 men from the states adhering to the Union. We are hourly expecting an order from our Governor”.

Wednesday April 17th 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“I worked in the shop all day. Attended a special meeting of the [Wooster Light] Guards at our hall in the eve at which we volunteered our services to the Governor (Buckingham) as volunteers in the NE states service in answer to the President's call for 75,000 troops. There were a large number of spectators at the room and when we with our voice offered our services a long loud shout went up from the people”.

Thursday April 18th 1861 Danbury, Connecticut

“Today has been spent mostly in parading the streets and hoisting the Stars and Stripes. I received my pay from Mr. Crofut preparatory to going away. The bells began to ring in the P.M. on account of a dispatch from the Governor accepting our services for the Government. Supposing that we are to leave this afternoon I went home, immediately packed what clothes I intended to carry, bid goodbye to wife and friends and started for our hall, but we did not go so I returned home again”.

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