MassMoments reminds us today that on this day – January 21, 1861 – the Sixth Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment was organized. Of note – this force was composed of men from neighboring cities in the Merrimack Valley – textile workers from Lowell and Lawrence. Later in April – in the city of Baltimore the first fatalities of the war were men from this regiment – including men from the Merrimack Valley – Luther C. Ladd and Addison Whitney – Lowell mill workers – killed by an angry street mob.
…in 1861, the Sixth Massachusetts Volunteer Militia was formally organized. With war approaching, men who worked in the textile cities of Lowell and Lawrence joined this new infantry regiment. They were issued uniforms and rifles; they learned to drill. They waited for the call. It came on April 15th, three days after the attack on Fort Sumter. They were needed to defend Washington, D.C.. The mood when they left Boston was almost festive. When they arrived in the border state of Maryland three days later, everything changed. An angry mob awaited them. In the riot that followed, 16 people lost their lives. Four were soldiers from Massachusetts. These men were the first combat fatalities of the Civil War.