Soon after the Civil War began on April 12, 1861, the safety of the nation’s capital and that of President Abraham Lincoln were of major concern. Prior to the establishment of the Secret Service, Washington, DC lacked a military presence and armory to protect the president and the city. A number of Southern sympathizers lived in the area.
JAMES LANE of Kansas had just been elected to the U.S. Senate and had arrived in Washington. He quickly responded to the need for a volunteer militia to protect the president and the city as there were rumors that Southern sympathizers had planned to kidnap Lincoln and overthrow the government. Lane and Sen. SAMUEL POMEROY checked into the Willard Hotel on April 13, 1861. That evening sympathizers from the North and South clashed. Lane shouted that he had 100 men from Kansas, all armed and ready to fight. He threatened to shoot every Southern sympathizer. Lane and CASSIUS M. CLAY of Kentucky, an avid abolitionist and Lincoln’s minister to Russia, formed two volunteer units. On April 14, Lane recruited the FRONTIER GUARD from about 120 Kansas men. The names of only 51 of the men are known. Some research states that the volunteers were never mustered in and didn’t receive pay, but our offering here indicates that they were, in fact, mustered into official government service.
Upon hearing of the plot against Lincoln and the country, the Guard was asked to report to the White House until troops could arrive from the North. The Guard quickly moved to the East Room and members reported that Lincoln himself visited them during the two weeks of their encampment in the White House. Many Kansas newspapers published accounts of the Guard’s White House duty saluting their distinguished service. On April 26, Lincoln honored the men and they were discharged on May 3, 1861, after Union troops arrived. Lincoln created the Secret Service four years later on April 14, 1865. The legislation was on his desk the night he was assassinated.
We’re pleased to offer four documents, apparently aimed at securing pensions for the living members. Two of the documents represent a roster of the names of Guard members who were still living after the Civil War. One roster lists the names of 32 officers and privates. The second, containing some duplicate names from the first, lists a total of 26 officers and members.
Both are retained manuscript copies, noted at the top. Likely these were created as records of the originals which are in the hands of the government. The third and fourth – one of which is also a retained manuscript copy – represent an affidavit swearing that the men were still living.
The affidavit, written by notary public James N. Fitzpatrick, was sworn to by S.C. Pomeroy, Addison A. Wheelock, Israel S. Smith and Thomas H. Sypherd “persons well known to me say that the foregoing list of names were members of the Organization known as the Frontier Guards. Enrolled on the 14th day of April 1861 and mustered into the United States Service on the 18th day of said month and that, according to their knowledge and belief, they are still living (Except the Captain and 1st Lieut.) and surviving members of the Frontier Guard. Subscribed and sworn before me this 15th day of May 1886. James N. Fitzpatrick, Notary Public”
Highly unusual to find anything relating to the Frontier Guard on the market today. Yet their significance cannot be overstated as they may have secured Lincoln’s safety at a time when it was seriously threatened.
Folds, toning, several chips around edges. Each of the documents has had archival tape repairs.
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