Painting by Don Troiani
Delaware. By all regards a tiny state. But, a Mason-Dixon Line border state with the Delaware Bay and River, shipyards in Wilmington, and most importantly, the Eleutherean Mills, the United States' largest supplier of gunpowder, owned by the duPont family. Like America, Delaware was a state divided.
In all three counties opinions differed and tempers flared. Washington, fearing the state's divided loyalties, not only eyed the gathering storm in the South, but nervously looked northeast at Delaware and Maryland. Lincoln, desperate to prevent being literally surrounded by enemies, sent troops into Maryland. For months Delaware teetered on the brink of secession --and likely Federal occupation.
12,284 men --nearly the population of 1860's-Wilmington-- went to war for the Union. Additionally, over 954 former slaves and free blacks joined United States Colored Regiments, including the soon-to-be-famous 54th Massachusetts. Delawareans fought and died in nearly every major battle in the Eastern Theater. When they came home, at least 882 had perished --over 7 percent.