In early April of 1861 the Regular Army of the United States of America consisted of approximately 16,000 officers and soldiers organized into ten regiments of infantry, four of artillery, two of cavalry, two of dragoons, and one of mounted rifles.
These majority of these regiments were mostly posted in small forts west of the Mississippi River.
Following the secession of seven states and the creation of the Confederate States of America in February of 1861, many officers and soldiers resigned from the United States Army to join the Army of the Confederacy.
Then the Confederate’s attacked and captured Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.
This posed a serious problem for President Lincoln, and he decided to utilize the Militia Act of 1795.
The number of militiamen that the President could call up for a provisional army was limited to 75,000 men by the Militia Act.
President Lincoln’s 75,000 Volunteers
On April 15, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln signed a declaration appealing for the immediate formation of a militia composed of 75,000 men from the States of the Union.
The initial proclamation called for the 75,000 to serve for three months (see text at the end of this article).
The American Civil War however, lasted over 4 years with a cost of some 600,000 Union soldier’s dead or wounded and almost 400,000 men dead or wounded for the Rebel Confederate soldiers.
Ironically, exactly four years to the day from President Lincoln’s appeal for a 75,000 man Volunteer militia to save the Union of the United States of America, he died from a gunshot wound to the head at 7:22 am April 15, 1865.
Now WE know em
The April 15, 1861 declaration by President Abraham Lincoln read:
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:
WHEREAS the laws of the United States have been, for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals by law.
Now, therefore, I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed.
The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the State authorities through the War Department.
I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs already long enough endured. I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event, the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or interference with, property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens in any part of the country.
And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid to disperse, and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days from this date.
Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress. Senators and Representatives are therefore summoned to assemble at their respective chambers, at twelve o’clock, noon, on Thursdays the fourth day of July next, then and there to consider and determine such measures as, in their wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to demand.
By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN
Secretary of State WILLIAM H. SEWARD