The First Battles: April 1861 to February 1862

Flag Fever

What about in the Southern states? Was there recruiting?

There certainly was. First, however, the Southern states had to show, in some way, that they were no longer part of the Union. The seven states already in secession could do this easily: they simply refused to answer Lincoln’s call for volunteers. But the states that were on the brink of secession were in an awkward spot. Missouri, for example, was sharply divided between Union and Confederate sympathizers. Its governor sent a blistering letter to Lincoln, declaring that the call for volunteers was illegal, immoral, and would put the country on the road to damnation.

Because the South was profoundly rural and had fewer newspapers, we have little knowledge of what the recruiting was like. We know that many thousands of young men signed up quickly, but we are not certain whether they thought of themselves as Confederates, state militia men, or just volunteers brought together for a state of emergency. Throughout the war, this posed a great difficulty to the Confederate cause. How could a new nation, which had been founded on the demand for states’ rights, compel men to serve in a national army?


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