MOUNT VERNON — By late spring, 1861, war had officially broken out between North and South, but not much happened in the month and a half after Confederate forces in Charleston, S.C., fired on the federal garrison at Fort Sumter in April.
Men across the North flocked to sign up and the state governments hastily organized regiments and sent them to Washington or to gathering places like Cincinnati. The same scenario played out in the South.
Many on both sides believed it would be a short but glorious war and everyone would be home in time for the fall harvest.
What were the people of Mount Vernon and Knox County doing as the war clouds loomed? Our windows looking onto that scene are limited, but interesting.
The Mount Vernon Democratic Banner is the sole remaining local newspaper from that time. It had supported Stephen A. Douglas in the 1860 election, although its editor admitted a personal preference for John C. Breckinridge, and it had routinely condemned abolitionists and “black Republicans” through the years of the building national crisis.