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THE WEBSTER REGIMENT.
HOW THE REGIMENT CAME INTO EXISTENCE.
1861. UMTER had been fired on; the Sixth Massachusetts
Regiment had been attacked while passing through Baltimore;” were anxiously inquiring, “What next?” an appeal had been made to the people of
the Commonwealth for extra troops; when, on Saturday, April 20. April 20, 1861, the following notice was issued by the
surveyor of the port of Boston:
FELLOW-CITIZENS, I have been assured by the Executive Department, that the State will accept at once an additional regiment of infantry. I therefore propose to meet to-morrow, at ten o'clock, in front of Merchants' Exchange, State Street, such of my fellow-citizens as will join in raising this new regiment. The muster-roll will be ready to be signed then and there.
“ To-morrow, at ten o'clock," so great was the crowd on State Street, that the front of the Merchants' Exchange being illy adapted for effective speaking - an adjournment was made to the Old State House; and from the balcony on the east end Mr. Webster and others addressed the multitude. A morning paper described the meeting thus :
“ The enthusiasm, both of the young and old, seemed raised to the highest pitch; and the patriotic spirit of 76 appeared fully awakened. Mr. Webster's remarks were patriotic in the extreme. He could, he said, see no better use to which the sabbath could be put, than to improve it by showing our gratitude to Divine Providence for bestowing upon us the best government in the world, and to pledge ourselves to stand by and defend it. He then read General Order No. 6, calling for volunteers, and said, that, in consequence of that order, he offered to join his fellow-citizens anywhere in serving their country. • Time presses ! the enemy are now approaching the Capitol of the nation: it may already be in their hands. Promptness is needed. Let us show the world that the patriotism of '61 is not less than the patriotism of '76; that the noble impulses of their patriotic hearts have descended to us.' He then announced that all who desired to enlist could do so by placing their names on the papers at the surveyor's office at the Custom House. Mr. Webster's remarks were received with the greatest enthusiasm. The meeting was addressed by many other gentlemen, including William Dehon, Esq., Hon. Charles Levi Woodbury, Edward Riddle, Esq., and others. Mr. Dehon said he was ready, as one of a committee of one hundred citizens, to join in raising money to equip a regiment of ten companies."
At nine o'clock on Monday morning, Mr. Nathaniel B. Shurtleff, jun., - who had previously tendered his services to Mr. Webster, — opened enlistment papers at the Merchants’ Exchange. Others assisted in the work, and in less than three days sixteen full companies were ready for organization. What became of eleven of these companies is not known, but doubtless they were swallowed up by other organizations in the hurry and confusion then everywhere prevailing among those engaged in organizing troops.
On May 7 the regiment was armed, officered, uniformed, and in camp under the title of “ The Webster Regiment,” by which name it ever will be remembered.
In behalf of the friends of the regiment, a committee had been organized, consisting of Messrs. William Dehon, Peter Butler, Henry L. Hallett, George Eaton, and R. B. Bradford, which was known as the Webster Committee. Over fourteen thousand dollars had been contributed ; and
these gentlemen assumed entire charge of the expenses of the regiment, making themselves responsible for the sum of seventy thousand dollars.
Too much cannot be said in praise of the Webster Committee ; for, owing to their liberality and personal exertions, the Webster Regiment was the best-equipped organization that ever left Massachusetts.
In its early days the regiment was temporarily lodged and drilled in Faneuil Hall, a building on Clinton Street, and a hall on Summer Street; but the first week in May found it stationed at Fort Warren, in accordance with Special Order No. 144, issued April 29. Before the regiment was sent to Fort Warren, the Webster Committee, not finding the accommodations suitable, employed men to clean the barracks and make the place habitable. On reaching the fort, the field and staff were elected by the company officers, in conformity with the custom of Massachusetts.
Colonel. — Fletcher Webster, commissioned May 4.
Lieutenant-Colonel. — Timothy M. Bryan, jun., commissioned May 4.
Major. - Elisha M. Burbank, commissioned May 9.
A correspondent of " The Cape Ann Advertiser,” a member of Company K, writing of the regiment at this time, says, —
“Our men are full of patriotic ardor; and all they ask is, to be sure that their families will be taken care of. We have enlisted for the war, be it longer or shorter."
On May 18 the regiment was drawn up on the paradeground to salute the steamer “ Cambridge,” as she passed with a load of soldiers and supplies for Fortress Monroe, the boat acknowledging by dipping her flags as she passed Fort Warren.
the sabbath services on May 19, Rev. Mr. Hepworth offered prayer; and Rev. Mr. Fitzgerald, acting regimental chaplain, delivered an address; the services closing by all joining in singing "America."
A photograph of the regiment was then taken.
At four P.M.