153 years ago, in the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and changed the scope of the war. Though it didn’t immediately free slaves, it did declare that as of January 1st, 1863, all slaves in the those states that had seceded (3.1 million of the nation’s 4 million slaves), “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
At the time of Proclamation, and in the days following, Pompey native and 2nd Lieutenant Edward F. Hopkins of Company E. 149th Regiment New York State Volunteers prepares for war, though the fight had turned from preserving the Union, to ensuring freedom for all:
“Sept 22: At camp, have dress parade & flag presentation to colonel Barnum & sword to Lieut. Col Strong. The boys get their knappsachs & canteens and prepare for a start for war.
Sept 23: Start this morning for Washington take the cars as far as Canandaigua & then down the Seneca lake to Watkins. Cars as far as Elmira arrived there at 11 o’clock stayed over night.
Sept 24: The men get there arms today & we leave for Washington by way of Baltimore.
Sept 25: Get into Baltimore about 11 o’clock at night-get supper & stay over night.
Sept 26: Start this morn from Baltimore for Washington about seven arrive at Washington & stay there until about 4 o’clock & then march over to Arlington Heights abut 5 miles where we camp on the ground until morning. March from there abut ½ mile to a hill on the left where we pitch our tents for the present & clear up the grounds. It was cut down by McClellan’s army to give range to his artillery.”