Front Matter The Beginning of the U.S Franklin's Return Troubles After the War The Constitution The First President Washington's Troubles A Wonderful Invention Death of Washington The U.S. Buys Land War With African Pirates Death of Somers The First Steamboat The Gerrymander The War of 1812 "Don't Give Up the Ship" The Star-Spangled Banner Clinton's "Big Ditch" More Land Bought Jackson Stories Jackson's Presidency New Inventions Whitman's Ride The Mormons The First Telegraph The Mexican War The Slavery Quarrel Daniel Webster's Youth Webster's Speeches Early Times in California Discovery of El Dorado Rush to California The Underground Railroad The First World's Fair John Brown's Raid Lincoln's Youth The First Shot The Call to Arms The President's Decision Admiral Farragut The Monitor and Merrimac The Penninsular Campaign Barbara Frietchie Lincoln's Vow The Battle of Gettysburg The Taking of Vicksburg Riots, Raids, and Battles The Burning of Atlanta The March to the Sea Sheridan's Ride The Doings of the Fleet Lee's Surrender Decoration Day Lincoln Stories Lincoln's Rebukes A President's Son A Noble Southerner Hard Times in the South The Atlantic Cable Best Way to Settle Quarrels Our One Hundredth Birthday Gold for Greenbacks A Clever Engineer Death of Garfield The Celebration at Yorktown The Great Statue A Terrible Flood Lynch Law The Great White City The Explosion of the Maine The Battle of Manila Hobson's Brave Deed Surrender of Santiago The Hawaiian Islands The Annexation of Hawaii The Philippine War Assassination of McKinley The Panama Canal Roosevelt's Administration Two Presidents German Views The World War Since the World War

Story of the Great Republic - Helene Guerber

The Call to Arms

Lincoln's call was answered with a promptness which showed how ready Union men were to defend their flag. Before thirty-six hours were over, troops began to gather in Washington, which was considered the most dangerous point, as it was so near the Southern states. These Northern soldiers wore blue uniforms, and as they came to defend the Union and uphold the federal government, they were called Unionists or Federals. As many of them came from the New England states, they were also often called Yankees. Southern troops, who responded to Jefferson Davis's call just as promptly, wore gray uniforms, and were called Confederates by their own people, and rebels or Johnnies by the Unionists.

[Illustration] from Story of the Great Republic by Helene Guerber


In those days there were not nearly so many railroads as there are now. To reach Washington, troops from Pennsylvania and the East had to pass through Baltimore, where the two depots were at opposite ends of the town. Now, Maryland was a slave state, but so many people there were against slavery that it never joined the Confederacy.

While some Union troops were marching through the city on their way to Washington, on the eighty-sixth anniversary of the battle of Lexington, they were first hooted at and then attacked by a mob of slavery men. The soldiers kept their temper and took the insults calmly, but before long several shots were heard. One of the soldiers, mortally wounded, swung around, saluted the flag, crying, "All hail the stars and stripes!" and then fell down dead.

[Illustration] from Story of the Great Republic by Helene Guerber


The sight of three lifeless companions proved the "lighted match which set fire to the powder magazine," and the Union troops shot at the mob. Several persons in the crowd were killed or wounded, and the troops had to fight their way, as it were, out of the town. Because these Northern regiments suffered in passing through Baltimore, the rest were taken by water to Annapolis and thence on to Washington.

The Southern people were very brave, and to show the North that they were not afraid, Jefferson Davis made a proclamation two days after Lincoln called for soldiers. In it he said he would give Confederate vessels leave to take or destroy Union vessels wherever they met them on the seas.

Now, you must know that war consists largely in giving tit for tat. So when Lincoln heard that Southern vessels were making ready to capture Northern vessels, he quickly ordered all the Southern ports closed, and forbade any ships to sail out of the harbors of the states which had seceded. To make sure that these orders would be obeyed, Northern vessels were sent to blockade the Southern ports. But, at that time, there were very few ships in the Union navy, and to keep guard over a coast line more than two thousand miles long a great many were needed.

Almost everything that could float was, therefore, called into service, and Southern vessels passing in and out could do so only by running past the Union blockade. This was dangerous work, for the Union vessels were armed with guns, and did their best to catch or sink the Southern vessels. Still, the blockade runners were very wary, and as their ships and sails were painted gray, they could not easily be seen, and they often managed to slip past. At first the blockade was not strict at all, but every day it became more severe. It had to be close to prevent the South from sending out cotton, sugar, or tobacco, because the money those products brought in served to buy new supplies for the Southern army.

When war broke out, several states were undecided which side to take, but before long they made up their minds, and Arkansas, Tennessee, North Carolina, and part of Virginia joined the Confederacy, which thus embraced eleven out of the thirty-four states. But the western part of Virginia later formed a separate state, called West Virginia, because the people living there wanted to remain in the Union.

Confederate Capitol


Soon after Virginia joined the Confederacy, Richmond became the Confederate capital. The fact that Washington and Richmond lay so close together made the largest forces collect there, and while the cry in Washington was "On to Richmond!" in the Confederate army it was "On to Washington!" As the Confederates held the Shenandoah valley, and had long been preparing for war, it seemed as if they could easily reach the Union capital; and hence it became necessary to have troops enough to defend it.

The Southerners were ready, as we have seen; and while most of the white men fought in the army, their plantations were worked by their slaves, who thus supplied them with the food they needed. Hearing that war had broken out, a few negroes came into the American lines, asking to be set free. But the Northern people, mindful of the fugitive slave law, would not at first allow them to stay, and sent them back to their masters.

Still, when the Unionists saw that the slaves built most of the fortifications, acted as teamsters, and served the soldiers in many ways, General Benjamin F. Butler said they ought to be seized as well as tools, ammunition, or anything else which helped the enemy. Because such things are called "contraband of war," slaves were classed as such, also, and before long many of them came into the Union lines, shouting, "I's contraband, massa, I's contraband!" knowing this would secure them good treatment.