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Not-so-good old days
The April 26, 1861 issue of the Oxford Democrat proudly announced the area's reaction to the "traitors" in the secessionist state of South Carolina, who fired on U.S. Fort Sumter in Charleston, SC, on April 12. Proudly, the paper noted the local men's rush to the colors.
'Old Oxford' Found in the Defence of the 'Stars and Stripes'
On Saturday eve, last, the sound of the heavy bass drum, told us that the war spirit no longer slumbered in this village. The call for aid has been heard and will be answered by the Norway Light Infantry, and volunteers from adjoining towns. At the firing of ordnance and the beat of the drum, the regularly organized company were soon assembled, with spectators of all ages.
They now, for the first time, met upon no “boy’s play,” and therefore acted the part of men. Having taken their drill in the street, they retired into their hall to decide the important question, — one in whose intricate mazes are involved life and death. But the voice of their brother’s blood had already cried unto them from the ground, and they answered its call.
Captain G. L. Beal had previously offered his services to the Governor. Remarks were made by Captain Beal, Lieutenants Blake and Whitmarsh, Seargents Rust and Sholes. After which the company passed the following:
Resolved, That in view of the crisis now upon the country, the officers and members of the Norway Light Infantry, mindful of the duties which devolve upon all good citizens, and especially upon the citizen soldiery, hereby tender their services to the Governor of the State for any duty which he, in the exercise of his power as Commander in Chief, may see fit to allot them; and that they will immediately put themselves in readiness to perform such duty whenever they may be called upon.
Immediately after the above resolution was adopted, a telegram was received from Gov. Washburn, inquiring if Captain Beal could muster his company into immediate service, comprising 65 privates. Answer was returned in the affirmative, and that recruiting had already commenced.
Recruits are coming in from Paris, Waterford, Oxford, and Bethel. At a citizen meeting on Tuesday evening, quarters were provided, free of expense, for the volunteers during the time they remain here. They expect to start for Boston by next Monday, or before. A Mass Meeting will be held on the common, at this village on Thursday, April 25, at 2 o’clock P.M.
A town meeting has been called for next Monday to raise money for the aid of the families who enlist.
Who can doubt amid such an uprising of the people throughout the land, that the ship of State will yet outride the storm, and that we shall still be proud of the appellation, “I am an American.”
Yes, people were rightly proud of their “boys” in the Norway militia. However, in the same issue of the paper, an item appeared that betrayed a major “fashion error.”
The Maine Regiment
The first regiment from Maine, will rendezvous at Fort Preble this week, proceeding to Boston, by steamer, Sunday night. Captain Gardner, U. S. Dragoons, has arrived in Portland, and will take charge of the regiment.
The Norway Light Infantry, it is understood, will leave on Saturday, by railroad.
This regiment is all taken from the third division. It is understood that another regiment will soon be called for, which will be taken from the first Division; and should a third be needed, it will be made up from the other divisions.
We understand that the uniform for the Maine Regiments consists of a gray coat and pants, with cap to match, a blue flannel shirt, a gray overcoat, and to be armed with the musket rifle.
Unfortunately, gray uniforms were exclusively reserved for the use of soldiers in the “Army of the Confederate States of America,” who, as history buffs know, was the enemy. The Norway Light Infantry was hopefully saved from what could have been a very tragic fashion faux pas before they could be mistaken for their own foes.
Sharp-eyed readers may also note that, today, we spell “defense” differently. However, in 1861, it was spelled as if it meant the removal of a partition between fields.
As is our custom, we try to exactly reproduce the grammar, spelling, punctuation and style of the original. Commas might appear where least expected and remain absent where we’d expect them if the item was written nowadays. On the other hand, consistency was not considered of utmost importance, so variations of a spelling might appear within one story. In addition, some words were abbreviated differently than today.
Where brief explanations of terms are considered necessary, they are presented in brackets  within the quote. Otherwise, explanations appear at the beginning or at the conclusion, without quotes. Parenthesis () used in a quoted passage appeared in the original.