On April 12, 1861, the rebel batteries at Charleston, S. C., opened fire on Fort Sumter, at that time commanded by Major Robert Anderson of the United States Army. Seven Southern States had already passed acts of secession, and this signal of war warned the President and the people of the North that a rebellion against the Government had been inaugurated. Three days later (April 15) appeared the proclamation of President Lincoln calling for 75,000 volunteers to aid in the sup­ pression of all rebellious acts. The loyal North felt that law, order, liberty and the existence of the nation itself, were in peril, and must be preserved at any cost.

Over half a million of men from the prairies of the West and the hills and cities of the East; from the farms and counting houses; from the factories, and mines, and workshops, sprang to arms in answer to the call and asked to be enrolled. Merchants and capitalists throughout the North proffered to the Government the support of their wealth and influence; the loyal States were a unit in uncompromising hostility to treason, wherever plotted; great crowds marched through the cities and towns, with drums beating and banners flying. Mercer county was no exception to the general rule. The masses were aroused, and loyal men every­where were ready to respond to the Governor's call in order to fill the quota asked by the President from this State. Public meetings were held in every township in the county, the largest taking place in Aledo, New Boston and Keithsburg.

Prominent among those who addressed these meetings, and urged the people to stand by the Government, were John S. Thompson, I. N. Bassett, J. S. Poague, Joseph McCoy, John R. Bassett, Dr. W. D. Craig, Charles M. Kay, W. L. Campbell and others of Aledo; Dr. E. P. Wood, R. S. Cramer, William A. Wilson, W. P. Myers, James M. Mannon, Gideon Ives, James S. Thompson, L. H. Scudder and others of New Boston; Rev. Job Mills, John C. Pepper, Dr. Samuel Kelly, Dr. E. L. Marshall, L. T. Ball, William Gayle, James A. Noble and others of Keithsburg. Meetings were held daily, and recruiting progressed, the first recruits coming from Aledo. These afterwards formed part of Company E, Ninth Regiment Illinois Volunteer Infantry, in the three years' service.

The recruits from New Boston and Keithsburg uniting, formed a full com­pany, afterwards known as Company I, Seventeenth Illinois Infantry. Daniel T. Hindman, of New Boston, and Hugh L. Campbell, of Keithsburg, were the first to sign the roll. On the 25th day of April, this company drove overland to Monmouth on its way to camp, but on arriving at Monmouth they learned that, through some error, they were one week in advance of the time set for the organization of the regiment, and were on the point of re­turning home, when the generous citizens of Monmouth opened their doors and entertained the boys until the next week, when, with the Monmouth company, they started for camp at Peoria.


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