This Week in Georgia Civil War History
April 21, 1861: A group of cadets from the Virginia Military Institute were sent to Richmond, VA to help train new army recruits One of the VMI faculty was placed in charge of the cadets - then Colonel Thomas J. Jackson - who would earn a big promotion, and a famous nickname, in the first major battle of the Civil War.
April 22, 1861: A man from Dawson Georgia wrote to his sister explaining his reasons for volunteering for military service.
". . . And now I must speak to you and to Ma and all the rest about a matter that must so deeply interest us all and stir our hearts with deep emotions of sorrow. We know, my Sister and Mother, that our country is threatened [with] destruction by an inveterate enemy that is willing to show no regard for humanity nor the rights of our section and people. A Call has been made upon the young, brave and chivalrous sons of Georgia and the South to leave home and the endearments that bind us to our families to defend the rights and interests of our mothers and sisters and homes. that they will be defended successfully I have no doubt. Your interests and rights, my Mother and sister, must [be] defended and fought for, too. Would you have me and my Brother remain inactive and contented at home, while others, more ready than we, are fighting for you and us? We are the ones to fight for you, and we are the ones that will fight for you! I know it is hard for you to consent that such a necessity exists. And I know you will agree that none will shoulder their muskets to use them against their enemies who has to fight [more] than Johnnie and myself. Our appreciation and love for you all is measured only by yours for us, and we cannot and must not consent that you should be defended and protected by others and we look on inactive at the contest. And you, I know, would bid us go, though with sad and heavy hearts.
The company in Dawson will perhaps be called out this week, though I do not know that it will, and I want you all to join in bidding me to go and fight bravely like a soldier and not let our family want for a brave and patriotic heart and arm to fight for them. Your liberties and rights are dear and sweet to you. Who shall fight to defend them if not your own sons and brothers, Johnnie and I? . . ."
Source: Mills Lane (ed.), "Dear Mother: Don't grieve about me. If I get killed, I'll only be dead.": Letters from Georgia Soldiers in the Civil War (Savannah: Beehive Press, 1990), pp. 5-6.
April 23, 1861: General Robert E. Lee assumed command of the military forces of Virginia.
The Southern Federal Union of Milledgeville carried a detailed account of the bombardment and surrender of Fort Sumter, and editorialized in no uncertain terms about the oncoming conflict.
The Southern Recorder also reported on the events at Fort Sumter, but on its editorial page, chose to express what most Southerners believed would see them through the crisis.
April 24, 1861: The Southern Confederacy printed an item showing men were not the only ones with the war fever.
The Southern Banner of Athens printed an item indicating students at the Lumpkin Law Scholl at UGA were more interested in the war than in preparing to become attorneys.
April 25, 1861: This young man from Marietta had the fever too, as he signed his enlistment oath.
Courtesy of the Georgia Archives
April 26, 1861: The Southern Confederacy reprinted an editorial from an Augusta newspaper claiming the blockade would have little effect on the South; they were mistaken.
April 27, 1861: President Abraham Lincoln extended the blockade of Southern posts, issued on April 19, to now include Virginia and North Carolina, and in an executive order he suspended the writ of habeas corpus for the public safety:
The COMMANDING GENERAL OF THE ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES
You are engaged in suppressing an insurrection against the laws of the United States. If at any point on or in the vicinity of any military, line which is now or which shall be used between the city of Philadelphia and the city of Washington you find resistance which renders it necessary to suspend the writ of habeas corpus for the public safety, you personally, or through the officer in command at the point where resistance occurs, are authorized to suspend that writ.
Given under my hand and the seal of the United States, at the city of Washington, this 27th day of April, 1861, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.
By the President of the United States:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State .
Virginia offered to have Richmond serve as the capital of the Confederate States of America.
This week's edition of Harper's Weekly featured a detailed account of the events at Fort Sumter, and an image of soldiers being sworn in in Washington. D.C.:
Image Courtesy of Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library / University of Georgia Libraries
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