Saturday, August 17, 2013

Delaware in the Civil War

Delaware was a slave state during the Civil War (1861-1865), but it remained loyal to the Union and it voted against secession on January 3, 1861. As the governor stated, "Delaware had been the first state to embrace the Union by ratifying the Constitution and would be the last to leave it." While most Delawareans who fought in the war served in the regiments of the state, there were many who served in the Confederate Army in Maryland and Virginia. Delaware is notable for being the only slave state from which no Confederate regiments or militia units were assembled.
Delaware Governor William Burton (January 18, 1859 – January 20, 1863) was a democrat, but he maintained a cautious politcal stance. The aged Burton (October 16, 1789 – August 5, 1866) tried to steer a course down the middle of all the competing interests. Like a majority in the state, he was strongly sympathetic towards the South, and a strong opponent of abolition, but he opposed Delaware’s possible secession.
Although Delaware, a Border State, embraced the Union, it nominally supported President Lincoln. The state was not a Republican stronghold, and in the presidential elections of 1860 and 1864, the state supported the “Peace Platform” offered by the Democrats. In the presidential election of 1860, Delaware voted as follows: (D) John C. Breckinridge (7,339: 45.5%); John Bell (3,888: 24.1%); Abraham Lincoln (3,822: 23.7%); and Stephen Douglas (1,066: 6.6%). The total vote count for Delaware was 16,115, and it heavily favored Breckinridge.
As the war dragged on, the Peace Platform became more appealing to the war-weary masses.
In 1864, with 16,922 total votes cast, the state preferred (D) George McClellan (8,767: 51.8%) over Abraham Lincoln (8,155: 48.2%). In 1864, furthermore, the war-weary states of Kentucky and New Jersey voted for McClellan, and, while New York cast a total of 730,721 votes, Lincoln won the Empire State by a meager 6,749 votes.

Civil War

Delaware, according to the 1860 U.S. census, had a free population (including blacks) of 110,418 and an additional 1,798 in the bonds of slavery. The government of Delaware never formally abolished slavery; however, a large portion of the state's slaveowners voluntarily freed their slaves. Continue to Delaware Civil War History.

Delaware, considering its small population, nevertheless, provided fighting men to the Union cause during the Civil War. The best sources within the State archives indicate that there were 11,236 white soldiers, 94 sailors and marines and a total of 954 black soldiers from the First State. A total of 12,284 Delawareans fought for the Union out of total state population (male and female) of slightly more than 110,000. This number includes all branches of service: artillery, infantry, cavalry, as well as marines and sailors. To the Union Army the state contributed 9 regiments and 4 companies of infantry, 8 companies of cavalry, and 1 company and 1 battery of artillery. As a result of the Civil War, Delaware suffered nearly 1,000 in killed and hundreds more returned home wounded.
Was Delaware a Northern or Southern state? Neither, it was a Border State that sided principally with the Union. Present-day, however, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Delaware is indeed a Southern state. Delaware, unlike other Border States, did not experience any battles on its soil. The state during the war was known principally for its imprisonment of Confederate soldiers at Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island.
Because of the small population in 1860, Delaware, compared to other Northern states, contributed only a small number of troops to the Union Army. The Delaware regiments, however, fought bravely from minor engagements to major battles such as Gettysburg. The Battle of Gettysburg, consequently, witnessed sixty-three Medal of Honor recipients, including three soldiers from Delaware. See also State of Delaware during the American Civil War (1861-1865) and Border State Civil War History.

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