Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors][merged small]

incoming administration, the “sacred soil of secessia" echoed the tread of armies and the din of preparation.

Government forts and arsenals were seized, arms distributed among the people, debts due Northern creditors repudiated, and citizens of the free States forcibly ejected from her borders. Outrage succeeded outrage in such rapid succession and unparalleled audacity, as even a state of savage warfare would scarcely justify. Backed by a people eager for the onset, the whole South, from the rivers to the gulf, glittered with bayonets and glowed with martial fires.

Those who remained true to the constitution and flag of the country, and unshaken in their allegiance to the Republic, were, with few exceptions, reserved and silent. Southern conventions with their accompaniments of bombast and folly, and Southern orators with their frothy gasconade, were heard with supreme indifference or profound contempt. For, had not the same things been witnessed before? Had not the same orators often deluged the country with denunciation and menace when defeat at the polls had only been feared ? Now, when they had suffered a crushing defeat at a fair election, which all their mad efforts had not been able to prevent, their resolutions and threats were regarded as the insane ravings of lunatics, or the harmless thunder of disappointed politicians, rather than the deliberate action of cool headed, reflecting men. Even their ordinances of secession, and the establishment of insurgeni governments, were common laughing stocks at the North, and regarded rather as a stupendous game of intimidation than the preliminary steps to rebellion and war.

With the bombardment and fall of Sumpter, the eyes of the nation opened, and indignation flashed through the astonished land, arousing the loyal men of the nation from their stupor.

THE PRESIDENT'S FIRST CALL.

11

The rebound was tremendous, breaking the calm placidity of the people. The whole North quivered with a new emotion. The strong lines of party were snapped asunder, and forgetful of past political differences, each regarded the other as a fellow citizen of one common country, animated with kindred feelings and purposes, and disposed to bury personal strifes for the sake of home and country. Patriotism, which had so long been spurned by politicians and at best regarded as a pleasant myth, sprang to life in a single day and blossomed into fruitfulnessthat fruit, a stern resolve to sacrifice position, life and all in defence of the Republic.

Mingling with the doleful reverberations from Sumpter, was heard the President's call for seventy-five thousand men, to meet and combat the oncoming hosts of rebellion. Before a single day had passed the lightnings had flashed back to the Capitol that twice that number were ready to march at the tap of the drum, and that thousands were then on their way to rescue and

Never was summons to arms more promptly responded In a single day the hum of manufactories and of the peaceful occupation of laborers in the fields was drowned by the tramp of hurrying thousands thronging to the designated places of rendezvous.

Under that first call for seventy-five thousand men, six regiments was the quota allotted for Illinois to furnish. In the war with Mexico the State had contributed six regiments, every one of which returned covered with glory as well as honored scars. Each had won laurels distinctively its own, and in order not to mingle their achievements with the deeds of other regiments bearing the same numbers, and to leave the survivors in undisturbed possession of the glory attached to the numbers of the regiments to which their bravery had given eclat, it was thought

to save.

to.

best to leave these numbers undisturbed. Thus the first regiment mustered into service from Illinois in the war to suppress the Rebellion, was the Seventh, which heads the list of the one hundred and seventy regiments of all arms furnished by the State.

Thousands who sought service in the ranks of these six regiments were refused. Recruiting offices were closed and eager applicants turned away with the comforting assurance that the “Rebellion would be over in sixty days.” So thought public men, and so thought the mass of the people. And yet each day the rebellion grew more powerful and more difficult to suppress.

At length the disaster at Bull Run opened the eyes of the people to the magnitude of the contest into which the country had been reluctantly drawn, and to the imminent danger which imperilled and threatened the existence of the Republic. Following upon this defeat of the undisciplined militia of the North, came a second uprising of the people, and other calls for troops. Again the fires of patriotism burned afresh. The enlistment, mustering and arming of volunteer regiments went on with astonishing celerity, and from these at last was evoked an army of soldiers, whose swelling cohorts were crowded to the front and hurled upon an over confident and vaunting foe.

The Fox River Valley was all ablaze with enthusiasm. The stalwart sons of its people were eager to grasp their firelocks and press forward to the fray. A meeting of parties interested in the formation of a “Fox River Regiment” was held at Geneva on the 29th day of July, 1861, and preliminary steps taken for its organization. Fifteen companies, either complete or in an advanced state of formation, were represented and tendered for acceptance, twelve of which were selected, including two cavalry companies. The Aurora Beacon and other newspapers in the District aided the project by stirring appeals to the patriot

BIOGRAPHY OF COL. GREUSEL.

13

ism of the people. In furtherance of this object Mr. George S. Bangs, D. W. Young and others applied to the War Department, as well as to the State authorities, for permission to proceed with the organization, which was speedily granted. Major Nicholas Greusel, of the Seventh Illinois Volunteers, then on duty at Cairo, was designated to take charge of its organization and equipment for the field. In compliance with orders from Governor Yates, he proceeded to Aurora and assumed the direction of all matters pertaining to the enlistment, the discipline, the equipment and supplies necessary for so large a body. In short, he assumed the entire command and led it to its designated field of action. The order assigning him to the command is as follows:

“ GENERAL HEADQUARTERS STATE OF ILLINOIS,
A DJUTANT GENERAL'S OFFICE,

SPRINGFIELD, Aug. 14TH, 1861.
GENERAL ORDER, No. 139.

Lieut. Col. N. Greusel, of the 7th Illinois Volunteers, is hereby promoted to the Colonelcy of the Fox River Regiment, Ill. Vols., and as such is to be respected and obeyed. By order of the Commander in Chief.

Thomas L. MATHER, Adjutant General.” This order was all the commission or authority which any officer, except one Lieutenant, received in connection with the 36th, until after eight months of hard service.

Col. NICHOLAS GREUSEL was born in Bavaria, Germany, July 4th, 1817, and was forty-four years of age on assuming the command of the Regiment. He received a fair education in French and German in the schools in his native city of Blieskastle. The Greusels, consisting of father, mother, and nine brothers and sisters, emigrated to the United States in the summer of 1834, and on arriving at the City of New York, strangers and penniless, the larger boys were told by their father that they were now in a free country; that he had nothing more than a parent's blessing to bestow, and that they must commence the battle of life for themselves, but that in case of sickness or misfortune such a home as he might be in possession of should be theirs.

Without knowing a word of the English language, the future to these poor lads looked dark and gloomy. The boy Nicholas wandered over the city for hours in search of employment, when, after many failures and rebuffs, a lady of benevolent and kindly mien admitted him to a sheltering roof and gave him work. The lady who at this dark hour proved an angel of mercy to him was the mother of Hamilton Fish, once Senator from New York, and now President Grant's Secretary of State.

Here Nicholas remained a year, when the whole family removed to the then wilderness territory of Michigan, reaching Detroit by canal and steamer, November 1st, 1835. At first such odd jobs as could be found were resorted to for a livelihood, such as driving team, gathering ashes, etc., but in the spring he obtained a permanent situation in the firm of Rice, Coffin & Co., in the business of lumbering, and remained in their employ for eleven years, until the breaking out of the Mexican war. Prior to this he had served as Captain of the “Scott Guards," a local military company, and subsequently as Major of the “Frontier Guards,” and was nominally on duty during the “Patriot Rebellion” in Canada. At the municipal election in Detroit in 1844 he was elected Alderman of the 4th Ward on the Whig ticket, and served in that capacity two years. On the breaking out of the Mexican war he recruited a company for service and was elected its Captain, being Co. D., 1st Regt. Michigan Vols. On setting out for their campaign they marched on foot to Springfield, Ohio, thence by rail to Cincinnati, and by steamer to New Orleans and Vera Cruz, which place was reached ten days after its surrender to General Scott.

« PreviousContinue »