"Since We Left Old Monmouth..."
At the outbreak of the Civil War on April 12th 1861, Monmouth County was an agricultural hub that was home to nearly 39,000 people. The residents held a deeply-felt pride in their ancestors' part in the American Revolution under Washington himself at the Battle of Monmouth, and this translated to a need to carry that torch within themselves as well. The Monmouth Herald and Inquirer beckoned the men of Monmouth:
"Men of New Jersey! The hour has again come when your loyalty to freedom and the Union of the Fathers is to be tested. Treason and Rebellion are at your very doors and you are called upon to resist and overwhelm them..."
Volunteers flooded the enlistment rolls for what they hoped would be a brief conflict. They were wrong. The war raged on far longer than anyone had guessed. There was tremendous loss of life, felt even more so in the close-knit, rural towns of Monmouth. The Government was running low on funds, and the soldiers were not getting paid regularly. Southern sympathizers (referred to as "sesesh") and anti-war sentiment began stirring discontent at home, and volunteer enlistments began dwindling. The quota that each town was responsible for filling was not being met, and the draft was required to ensure we had enough men to fight. In order to avoid instituting the draft, towns began offering sign-on bonuses in addition to the