The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch, Post 5

The following excerpt is from the diary of Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch.

Wednesday, May 8th, 1861

The awaking of the country after the Fort Sumter affair has been one of the noblest spectacles of the age. For a few days Washington was considered in danger, but regiment after regiment poured in from the north for its defense, - Massachusetts doing her part among the first, and with a remarkable exhibition of the ability of her soldiers to meet every emergency. The sixth regiment was attacked by a mob in Baltimore; but forced their way through, though with the loss of three lives. The bodies of the martyred soldiers have since been received and reverently buried. This occurrence led to the selection of the route through Annapolis, - the discontinuance of travel through Baltimore, - much talk in Maryland and much wrath both in and against it. But the state and city seem to succumb to the necessity of the case. Meantime Washington is safe; the armory at Harper’s Ferry and the Navy Yard at Norfolk have been destroyed to baffle the approaching enemy, - 80,000 more soldiers and sailors, for a longer term, have been called out, - the administration is firm, and our hopes of an eventually happy if not a bloodless solution of the difficulty are increasing.

Our ladies have been working to make clothing for the soldiers. A few of our Dorchester youths have joined a Roxbury company, now expecting to march; and two companies are nearly formed in this town. A large subscription by individuals, & a liberal appropriation ($20,000) by the Town, have been made to encourage them.

My nephew C. F. B. has volunteered, but I do not yet know whether he will be ordered off.

Next week look for SGB's June 1861 entry.  He discusses early troop movements and skirmishes, the economic impact of the war, and his hopes for a quick end to the conflict.


permalink | Published: Wednesday, 14 September, 2011, 8:00 AM