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150 Years Ago: Sunday, April 21, 1861

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Today the day would begin at 1am for John Nicolay, one of Lincoln’s secretaries. A messenger woke him to announce that a Committee from Baltimore had arrived requesting an interview with the President. After the Baltimore Riots, Mayor Brown had urgently requested that no more Union troops be allowed to pass through their city. Knowing that more troops were on their way, he wanted to put a stop to it at once in order to prevent further bloodshed.

Nicolay chose to let Lincoln sleep, and makes his way to the War Department where Simon Cameron has been staying in an effort to be prepared for emergencies. After waking Cameron and explaining the committee’s mission to send no more troops through Baltimore, Cameron baulks at the request and goes back to sleep. Being proactive, Nicolay asks a Chief Clerk at the War Department if any troops are scheduled to reach Baltimore before 8am; the answer is “No.” Nicolay goes back to the Committee and asks if they would be willing to wait until 8am, knowing that no troops were scheduled to be in Baltimore before that time. The committee agrees.

The Committee returns, meeting the President at the foot of the stairs. Lincoln had been walking to see General Scott, who had shown up in his carriage outside the door. Scott suffered from gout, and the President was trying to save him from all possible pain. The President escorted the committee outside where they held an informal meeting on the situation. Any Union troops would not be safe in Baltimore and their presence was not wanted. General Scott gave a simple solution: “Send them around Baltimore.”

The President agrees to the suggestion as long as it is practical from a military point of view. He gives the Committee a note saying it was his wish to avoid further present difficulty, which satisfies the group.

Down the street from the White House, Clara Barton, who works at the U.S. Patent Office, learns of Baltimore Riots and the wounded Massachusetts soldiers now on Capitol grounds. She organizes a relief program and tends to the soldiers in the U.S. Senate chamber.

Ulysses S. Grant, who is busy organizing volunteers from Galena, Illinois to take to Springfield, writes to his father Jesse. A West Point graduate, he realizes that he was trained for this type of emergency – and at the expense of the government. But he is hesitant to offer his services; whether this is because he was somewhat dishonorably discharged from the military several years before is unknown. He vows to give all the assistance he can to organizing the Galena Company and suggests that once he reaches Springfield he may ask the Governor if he can be of assistance. He parts with these closing words: “Whatever may have been my political opinions before, I have but one sentiment now. That is we have a Government, and laws and a flag and they must all be sustained. There are but two parties now, Traitor & Patriots and I want hereafter to be ranked with the latter and, I trust, the stronger party.”

In Missouri, Captain Nathaniel Lyon works to get official permission to enlist Unionist Germans into the army to protect the St. Louis Arsenal, which is a key center for the West.

In Richmond, Robert E. Lee meets with Virginia Governor John Letcher, who offers him head command of Virginia state militia. He asks for a day to think over the offer.
Thomas J. Jackson, a professor at Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, VA, attends chapel this Sunday morning with his cadets. A devoutly religious man, God always came first. In the afternoon Jackson and his cadets take stagecoaches to the nearest train station; they are off to enlist in the Confederate army.

Daily Civil War Calendar

April 2011

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