September 23, 2011

Recruiting Update: "Now or never is the time"

From What a Boy Saw in the Army

Our best views into the 79th Pennsylvania's recruiting process--how and why men enlisted--come from contemporary newspaper appeals.  We've already seen some about how they enlisted.  Basically, men with some military or business or educational background (or, perhaps just some plain ambition) arranged with Col. Hambright to recruit a company for his regiment.  These soon-to-be captains set up recruiting offices in Lancaster city or villages in the county, and appointed soon-to-be lieutenants to help them in the process.  As a result, many of the companies tended to have clusters of men from the same hometown (group of men from Marietta in Co. F, Mountville/West Hempfield/Millersville in Co. E, Gap in Co. C, etc.)  We also see accounts of captains traveling to patriotic events across the county, say a flag raising, and giving speeches to attract men to join the ranks.  As we'll see below, a young man could even all-but-enlist just by sending his name to the Daily Evening Express office. 

As for why they enlisted, we've also discussed that enough to see it's fairly complicated and varied from man to man, or even from day to day for each man.  We do at least have a good sense of the immediate reasons why Lancaster's newspaper editors wanted men to enlist in Colonel Hambright's regiment, though.  Both the Republican-leaning weekly Examiner and Herald and the Daily Evening Express printed appeals for young men to join the regiment.  The Democratic-leaning Intelligencer made no such appeal, so it would be interesting to look back at April and May 1861 to gauge the paper's level of enthusiasm for Lancaster's volunteer soldiers.

The Express articles from September 2-4, 1861, are presented below.  A couple notes:
  • The appeals focus very heavily on the immediate advantages (proven leader, properly authorized regiment, all Lancaster men, and even a stellar regimental band) of enlisting in Col. Hambright's regiment, rather than fundamental questions about why the war is worth fighting. 
  • When a cause is specified, it is the simplest possible appeal--defending hearth and home against a possible rebel invasion of the North.
  • There's a pretty strong appeal to county pride, with the editor wanting to make sure Lancaster was represented well in Union forces compared to its neighboring counties. 

Daily Evening Express of September 2, 1861 (alternate link):

Daily Evening Express of September 3, 1861 (alternate link):

Daily Evening Express of September 4, 1861 (alternate link):

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