From Three Years in the Army:
The 19th of April, which is one of the days sacred to American history, on account of the battle of Lexington, this year received an additional interest from the events that were transpiring. It was celebrated by the ringing of bells, flag-raisings and speeches, a drill on Boston Common by one of the artillery companies, and at noon by the firing of one hundred guns in honor of the day.
While the people were thus actively engaged in celebrating the day, news was received that the Sixth Regiment had been attacked in the streets of Baltimore. The most intense excitement followed. Men gathered in groups about the streets, while crowds surrounded the bulletin boards of the newspapers to learn the particulars.
If anything was needed to arouse the patriotism of the North, it had now occurred. Public meetings were held in various parts of the city. Merchants, Lawyers, physicians, and members of other professions met, and offers of service and money were proffered to the use of the State. Large loans were generously offered by the Boston banks and by the banks of cities, for the State's immediate use, trusting to the honor of the Legislature to reimburse them, when it met. Numerous offers of money were made to the Governor by private individuals, as aid to soldiers' families. Nor were women lagging behind the men in enthusiasm. Rich and poor, high and low, all offered their services for the preparation of bandages and lint, the making of garments, attendance in hospitals, or any other service compatible with their sex.
Business seemed, for the time, to be forgotten in the excitement. The minds of men were too much disturbed to give proper attention to other matters. Only one subject possessed the public mind, - to protect the government from the clutches of traitorous hands.
It was under the influence of these patriotic demonstrations, as exhibited in all the cities and towns of Massachusetts during the first months of the war, that our regiment was enrolled. Many of the young men who left lucrative positions were guaranteed them on their return, by their employers. The generous impulses of all were awakened by the danger that threatened the country.
From the History of Stoneham, by William Burnham Stevens, 1891.
Twenty-five years have passed since the close of the great Rebellion. It seems hard to realize that to a large part of the people now living the events of the war are known only as matters of history or tradition ; that almost one generation has come and another gone since the opening events of 1861. Those were stirring times in Stoneham, and all who love the old town are proud to dwell upon her record. No town was more patriotic, none more prompt in hurrying to the front, or furnished more men in proportion to her population. Stoneham's company of minute-men having been engaged in the first battle of the Revolution, it was a remarkable coincidence that Captain John H. Dike's company, from the same town, on the same day of the same month, should have participated in the first skirmish of the Rebellion. At Lexington she was in the vanguard of the army which founded the Republic. At Baltimore and Washington she led the hosts that saved the Union. The conduct of Captain Dike and his men in a great emergency deserves more than a passing notice. The part they acted in the march through Baltimore has made the name of the Stoneham company historic. The Stoneham Light Infantry had been the military organization of the town for many years, and was Company C of the Seventh Regiment. The first proclamation had been issued by President Lincoln calling for seventy-five thousand volunteers. On Tuesday, April 16th, Captain Dike goes to Boston, presents himself at the State-House, and begs the privilege of calling out his company in obedience to the President's call. On his return home the men are notified to meet in the armory in the East School-house, where they assemble at 8 P. M., and unanimously vote that they are ready to start at a moment's notice. The night was dark and stormy, and Wednesday morning broke with a cold and hazy atmosphere, but the town was alive with excitement. Men were hurrying to and fro, and preparations being made for immediate departure. A messenger had been despatched from the Governor, who reached Captain Dike's at half-past two in the morning, notifying him to muster his men and report in Boston forthwith. These men were again summoned to meet in the armory at 6 A. M. New names were added to the roll, and the members dismissed to make the last arrangements, and bid their final adieux. Those who witnessed the company's departure on that morning of the 17th of April can never forget it. The company met at the Town Hall, where prayers were offered, and a little before ten, in military array, they reached Central Square.
HEAD QUARTERS SIXTH REGIMENT OF I. M. V. M.
Senate Chamber, April 26, 12 M., '61MR. C. C. DIKE:
Dear sir:—Yours was received this A. M. For the first time we have got direct news from home, and I assure you it were gladly received. Last night at 7 P. M. the 7th Regt. N. Y. arrived and were quartered at the House of Representatives. That cheered us up considerably, but to-day, when the gallant 5th, 7th and 8th Massachusetts and the 1st Rhode Island arrived, the wildest enthusiasm prevailed, for it was refreshing to see familiar faces from the old Bay State. Previous to this we had been worked very hard for green soldiers, sleeping with, and at all times having with us, our equipments, but the men have done well, and have stood by each other like brothers. Now for our journey here. The papers give an account of our route to Philadelphia. From there I will try and give the particulars. Our muskets were loaded and capped before we got to Philadelphia. We left there at 2 in the morning, arriving at Baltimore at 12 M. Our company were in two covered baggage cars. We had stopped for about fifteen minutes and a crowd was gathering fast, when we discovered that the Colonel and Staff, together with seven companies, had left their cars, and gone across the city. The men whose duty it was to draw with horses our cars across, were driven off and could not, and we proceeded to get out, fall in, four companies in all, to march across, we having the colors in one of the companies. The companies were C, of Lowell on the right; Co. B, of Lowell, with the colors ; then came Co. C, of our town, Captain Dike, followed by Co. I, of Lawrence. Before we got formed we were taunted and spit upon and insulted in every way possible. After marching about ten rods, stones and brick-bats flew merrily, and the order was then given by Captain Follansbee, who commanded the regiment, to double quick march. We had not gone more than ten rods before I saw a man discharge a revolver at us from the second story of a building, and at the same time, a great many were fired from the street. We got scattered a little, and I gave the order to close up in close order, solid column. Just then, Captain Dike being ahead, two of our men fell, one by a bullet from a pistol, and one by a brick-bat. I then ordered my men to fire, which they did, and I then gave the order to load and fire as we went. We got partly through the city, when we found them tearing up a bridge, and the street blockaded up with stone and large anchors, but we scaled them and kept up our courage. I kept around the colors and stood by them till they were at the depot, then helped put them in the cars. We were scattered very much, all trying to get into the cars. About ten rods from the depot I saw Captain Dike. That was the last I saw him. He being some way ahead, I supposed he had got into the forward cars. A great many of the cars were locked, and the windows closed, but the buts of the guns soon made a passage into them. Every gun was pointed out of the window, and the rebels began to leave. While we were getting into the cars, we were showered upon with pistol balls, and they were unshackling the cars so as to leave some of us, but when we got right we soon stopped by stationing men on the platform and muzzles out of the windows. After helping put in the colors in company with the color-bearer, I got into the cars and they began to move very slow, for the rebs had gone ahead and torn up the track. The police went ahead and we fixed the track and finally moved on to Washington. One word in regard to the police. Some of them were loyal, but what could they do when we were in the thickest of the fight. As soon as we got started I looked through the train to see who was hurt and who were missing, for we were awfully mixed up. I found upon examination that our Captain, James Keenan, Horace Danforth, Andrew Robbins and Victor Lorendo were left-behind. The band did not get out of cars on the north side of Baltimore, and we did not know what had become of them till this morning when we learned that part of them had gone home, and a part of them were in New York. As soon as possible after getting to Washington, took means to find out in regard to those left behind, and found that Captain Dike was shot in the thigh, and was in good hands, but was told that they could not tell the names of the parties with whom he was stopping. James Keenan was shot in the leg, and Andrew Robbins was shot and hit with a stone, hurt very bad. Horace Danforth was hit with a stone and injured very severely, but all were in good hands, and well cared for. Communications by letter being cut off from Baltimore, I have not received news from there as well as I should had there been a mail, but have heard several times by men coming from there that they were cared for and doing well, but rumor said yesterday that A. Robbins and H. Danforth were dead. I cannot tell, for it is impossible to write and nobody goes there. I shall do the best I can to hear from them and help them in every way. We got to Washington at dark, went directly to the Capitol, and were quartered in the Senate Chamber. The Pennsylvania Regiment was quartered in the southern wing, 350 men. Monday we took the oath of allegiance to the United States. It was administered by Maj. McDowell. We have marched up to the President's house, passing in review before President Lincoln, Gen. Scott, Wm. H. Seward and Simon Cameron. To-day at 12 M. the 5th and 7th Massachusetts Regiments arrived and marched to the Patent Office, where they are quartered. The 8th Massachusetts are in the Rotunda and old Senate Chamber, very much used up with marching, and going without sleep and provisions, but our men are doing all in their power for them. Say to all our Stoneham friends that the men behaved like men as well as soldiers, and attend to their duties cheerfully, and are ready if needs be to rally at a moment's warning around the colors of 6th Regiment, and under the stars and stripes there to protect our glorious Union against any odds and at all hazards. We all unite in sending good news to all inquiring friends, and will endeavor so to act that none of them shall ever be ashamed to own that they had friends in the time of need in the Stoneham Light Infantry. Yours truly,
"L. F. LYNDE, Lieut. Commanding."
From the History of Westborough:
On the 19th of April the news of the attack on the Sixth Regiment in the streets of Baltimore added fuel to the flames. Patriotic enthusiasm could no longer endure opposition or indifference. The postmaster, who had spoken rather too freely, it was thought, in expressing his sympathy for the South, was its most prominent victim. On the afternoon of the outrage in Baltimore a crowd of excited men appeared before the office, - at the corner of South and Main Streets, - and presenting him with the flag of his country, demanded that he raise it at the office door. This he refused to do. Fifteen minutes were given him to change his mind ; and when it was announced that the allotted time had nearly expired, a friend of the postmaster, with the excuse that "the easiest way is the best way," avoided further trouble by nailing the flag to the door-post. There it remained for months, until the wind and rain had reduced it to tatters, inspiring loyalty and rebuking indifference.