MOUNT VERNON — As would be expected, passions ran high when the news came to Mount Vernon that Fort Sumter had surrendered. A week later, in the April 23, 1861, issue, the Mount Vernon Democratic Banner reported: “Intense excitement prevailed in our city during the past week. The streets were crowded with people day and night. Martial music constantly greeted the ear, and the volunteers were marching and countermarching through the streets nearly all the time.
“While the war feeling was up to the fever point some of our citizens, who had expressed sympathy for the south, were assailed, and one gentleman would no doubt have been killed had not some personal friends interfered in his behalf. One of these men received a severe cut to the back of the head.”
In response to the situation, the mayor detailed extra police to keep the peace. The Banner commented: “...We think the mob spirit will soon subside. As yet, we live in a country of laws, and every good citizen should make every exertion in his power to preserve the peace.”
In the same column, the Banner reported another kind of activity: “And as soon as our young men began to volunteer, the ladies went to work, raised money to purchase a splendid flag, and met at the Court House for the purpose of making clothing. On Friday, Friday night and Saturday, some 200 ladies were busy at work with their needles, and these with the assistance of 16 sewing machines, turned out ‘war jackets’ with astonishing rapidity!”
With the beginning of May, the first volunteers from Mount Vernon found themselves in Camp Jackson at Columbus, learning something about life in the army:
“Rain fell nearly all night and now it is very muddy, so much so that our captain gave us orders not to drill until this afternoon. Several of our boys have contracted severe colds and are quite unwell in consequence thereof.”