In January 1861, after Abraham Lincoln’s election to the presidency, seven southern states seceded. The Civil War began with shots fired on Fort Sumter by Confederate troops in South Carolina on April 12, 1861. Two weeks later, the first company of volunteers from Cornwall was ready to muster.

We have heard of Mr. Lincoln’s election and the probable difficulty he will experience, if not direct opposition, to his inauguration. It seems lamentable that this Union that we have boasted of and glorified so much should be broken up, but I hope the next news will be more satisfactory. How a disruption will affect me I cannot foresee; probably would result in my leaving the service at once.

~ John Sedgwick, letter to his sister Emily from Fort Wise, December 10, 1860

Detail, Campaign Envelope, 1860
(Collection of Cornwall Historical Society)
The envelope is embossed with a medallion of Abraham Lincoln and the campaign slogan, “I do not expect the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”