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150 Years Ago: Thursday, May 2, 1861


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The 1st Louisiana Native Guard, a new Confederate militia regiment, is accepted into service today. Consisting mostly of free blacks between the ages of 15 and 50, approximately 1,500 men had enlisted. It would be the first militia unit in the North and South to have black officers.
In Richmond, Robert E. Lee writes to his wife Mary Anna, who is still in their home in Arlington across the Potomac River from Washington City: “I want you to be in a place of safety. Nor can any one say where safety can be found…Make your preparations quickly to be ready for any emergency.” Lee likely knows that it will be impossible for Mary Anna and their children to stay in their home that meant so very much to her. He does not demand that she leave, but he will continue to gently persuade her to join him in Richmond. With him serving the seceded state of Virginia, his home makes an easy target for the Union.

Lee also writes to Reverent Cornelius Walker: “I shall need all your good wishes and all your prayers for strength and guidance in the struggle in which we are engaged and earnestly and humbly look for him alone who can save us and who has permitted the dire calamity of this fratricidal war to impend over us.If we are not worthy that it should pass from us, may he in his great mercy shield us from its dire effects and save us from the calamity our sins have produced.”
 
In Springfield, Ulysses S. Grant writes to his father Jesse in Kentucky. He has finally received a letter from him the day before. He tells his father that he is not a volunteer and can’t change that now as the Galena Company has been mustered into service; he is, however, assisting Governor Yates but thinks it will be a short term assignment. He writes “I should have offered myself for Colonelcy of one of the Regiments, but I find all those places wanted by politicians who are up to log-rolling, and I do not care to be under such persons.” Grant suggests to his father that they not try to collect debts from their Galena store from men they know to be good, since there is question over the “distracted state” of U.S. currency. He thinks that 30 days from now will be a better time to collect.

Ohio Governor William Dennison writes to U.S. Secretary of War Cameron; he has not received a letter from Cameron’s department since the President’s proclamation asking for troops. He asks Cameron if he would accept ten additional regiments now organized in Ohio for three year terms, unless discharged sooner.

Ambrose Burnside is promoted to Colonel of the 1st Rhode Island Volunteer Infantry; it was the first of many promotions he would receive during the Civil War.  

The Fire Zouaves arrive in Washington City from New York. Their “Turkish” looking uniforms of red shirts, gray jackets and gray baggy pants tucked into their boots makes for a stunning sight. Led by Elmer Ellsworth, Lincoln’s children Willie and Tad were likely overjoyed to have their friend Ellsworth back, who often played with the boys and had even contracted measles from them back in March.
 

In Washington City, Lincoln raises the U.S. flag over the Patent office at noon and reviews the Rhode Island Marine Artillery. At 8pm that night, he meets secretly with Secretary of State Seward and Allan Pinkerton, a detective from Chicago. Pinkerton had sent a letter on April 21 offering his services, along with a cipher code that could be used to communicate with him. 
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Like many others, I have a passion for the Civil War era, and for decades have chosen to spend my much of free time researching this topic - particularly the people, as the human component is what I find most fascinating. The site is not a source of revenue for me, nor is it tied in with a company or individual behind the scenes. It is my own personal venture. It is because of this genuine bond of respect and affection I feel towards this period in our history that I created "The Civil War Project." If this is your first time visiting the site, I welcome you and thank you for your interest. If you have any feedback or questions, please feel free to contact me at thecivilwarproject@yahoo.com.

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