Not everyone was eager to rush to war. Peace meetings were held in numerous towns, including Cornwall. One such meeting, held at Cornwall Bridge on July 25, 1861, was declared to be treasonous by a New London newspaper. Meeting attendees formally criticized the President’s suspension of certain peacetime rights and customs, condemned the arrest and imprisonment of Frederick A. Guion of New York for circulating a “compromise” petition, and condemned the suppression of the press by the military.
Philo C. Sedgwick, brother of John Sedgwick, was a member of the State Legislature and a strong supporter of the war; he introduced a bill in May 1861 to punish “aiders and abettors of those who may be in arms against the United States Government, or those who may endeavor to prevent the enlistment of volunteers.” Sedgwick further declared that “in a civil war there should be no Olive branches or compromises.”
While some members of the State Legislature still hoped for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, Sedgwick advocated for the creation of five regiments of African Americans to fight in the war. It would be another two years, following a Federal mandate, before Connecticut established an African American regiment.
I preach Union & the defence of it strong, though some here have a brother in the secessionist Army, & others sympathize more with South than North. It is a trial to talk straight.
~ Rev. Stephen Fenn to his brother, Cornwall, May 6, 1861 (Courtesy of The Connecticut Historical Society)
Little bit of excitement about taking down a secessionist flag in North Goshen. Has been a small one this side in Cornwall… a small boy was sufficient to capture that.
~ Rev. Stephen Fenn to his brother, Cornwall, May 6, 1861
(Courtesy of The Connecticut Historical Society)