Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Blog in Real Time - May 12, 1861 - Post #17

From the Memoirs of George Kimball, 12th Mass. Vols.  
     At this time Kimball was a member of the 2nd Battalion, or "Tigers" serving at Fort Warren.  The 12th Mass. Vols. (The Webster Regiment) had arrived at the fort May 4 & 5.  Kimball describes the occasion.  Also, on May 12, the "John Brown Song" was performed for the very first time by a band visiting Fort Warren.

     A neat illustration of the fact that all men are brothers was given when Col. Webster's regiment came to the fort.  Some of the companies had been quartered in Faneuil Hall, and when orders came to proceed to Fort Warren all the stray companies were summoned to the "Cradle of Liberty" to prepare for the start.  A Captain, with neither discretion nor propriety, advised the men to prepare themselves for a cold reception at Fort Warren, saying that the stronghold was garrisoned by "kid-gloved soldiers." "A little bird " or some other messenger brought the tidings down. Think you the men of the battalion indulged in a towering rage? They didn't . We simply laughed, for we knew that the Captain was laboring under a misapprehension.

     Our officers suggested that we show them by a hearty reception that all men engaged in the suppression of the Rebellion occupied the same broad platform—that we were all Americans.  So, when the steamer bringing the regiment came, we began to cheer as soon as they could hear us, and kept it up until they landed. Then we escorted them to their quarters, and while they were wondering what we were up to, we stacked arms and broke ranks, and returning to the wharf on the run. seized mattresses and every bit of camp equipage we could lay hands upon, and started back, screaming with delight, as though the labor afforded us infinite pleasure. What little false impression the Captain's remark had created vanished into thin air, and the Captain himself took it all back with tears in his eyes. After that the men of the two organizations were fast friends.  When the Eleventh came we repeated the performance for fear that they, too, might think we were "stuck up.”

     Gilmore's and the Brigade Bands, which alternately visited the fort on Sundays, had learned to play the “John Brown Song,” and Sunday, May 12, was a great day.   Rev. Mr. Hepworth of the Church of the Unity, Chaplain of the battalion, preached an eloquent war sermon, after which we had a grand flag raising. Judge George D. Wells made a speech. Miss Louise B. Rogers raised the flag amid the cheers of the men, and we sang:

"Emblem of liberty,

Float thou o'er earth and sea.

By thee we stand.

Stay thou our enemies.

God of the earth and sky;

Under this flag we'll die,

 God bless our land." 

to the tune of "America."  Then Miss Rogers was made "Daughter of the Battalion."  At a dress parade that night all the troops were combined, and when Gilmore's Band, which played for us on this occasion, started up the long line from the left, they astonished  and delighted everybody by playing "John Brown." This was the first time the piece was performed publicly by a military band.

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