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1861 April 13: What is the State of the Country?

April 13, 2011

Technically, by the time the Saturday, April 13, 1861, issue of The Prescott Transcript comes out, the American Civil War has already started. But they don’t know that yet in Northwest Wisconsin. Here is the lead article and some other news.

Another post will follow later today with what was actually happening on the 13th of April.

State of the County.

The telegraph columns of our daily exchanges are full of dispatches, from all quarters, conveying the most vague and contradictory news respecting the secession movement as the South and the acts of the government in relation thereto. Putting them all together, and making due allowance for exaggerations, we come to this conclusion—that Lincoln and his cabinet have exercised commendatory discretion in keeping their own secrets thus far, and judging now by their acts, it is probable that they are determined not to abandon fort Sumpter [sic], but to re-inforce it at all hazzards, ‘military necessities’ to the contrary notwithstanding, and that if the rebels make an attack upon it they will meet a glorious response.

There is according to all accounts, a vast deal of stir among the military of the country, especially at the capitol. A dispatch from Washington of 10th says:

“Ten companies, comprising about one quarter of the volunteers and milita of the District of Columbia are mustering to day for inspection. The orders having been issued from the Government head quarters last night.

Several days ago the company officers were directed to immediately report the number of effective men. This unexpected movement has given rise to many surmises, and preposterous reports prevails [sic]. It is believed to be correct that those ten companies are to be ordered into immediate service.”

Everything now forbodes a war, that will be terrible in its effects, but unavoidable. The only question to be settled is whether or not this United States government is worth saving, after being so nearly destroyed by the Democratic party, as it was found to be on the 4th of March last. If it is worth the trouble and expense, it can and will be saved, and once more, purged from the abominations that have been done in the land, it will [be] a government worthy of respect. This will cost blood and treasure in no small degree. The point now at issue is whether the United States government or the rebels have possession of Charleston harbor. The first gun will be fired there, and the result of that stroke will have a mighty influence either in quelling or stimulating rebellion, and we wait with anxious solicitude to learn whether or not we have governmental force to quell an insurrection.


MINNESOTA U.S. TROOPS.—The St. Paul Press of Tuesday, says, that “rumors were rife on the streets Sunday and yesterday, to the effect that Sherman’s battery, now stationed at Fort Ridgely, had been ordered to New York. From what we can learn, we are inclined to regard the report as true. It is also probably that other forces will be ordered from the Minnesota forts, if the warlike aspect of affairs continue.

We understand also that the Fanny Harris1 started for the fort on Tuesday; she was to be followed by the Favorite, on yesterday to take the troops down the river.


Rumors are in circulation that firing has been commenced at Charleston.


1.  Commissioned by General William Tecumseh Sherman, the Fanny Harris moved a heavy cannon down the Minnesota River, in full flood, from Fort Ridgely to Fort Snelling, Minnesota, in April 1861.

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