Our County History
by County Historian Marion W. Coplen

Ninety-two years ago today word was flashed over the nation that Fort Sumpter had been fired upon by the South. This proved to be the opening action of the great Civil War. President Lincoln issued a call for troops and in a few weeks armies were on the move.

The news had been ominous for a number of weeks prior to this fateful April 14. After the election of Abraham Lincoln as president of the United States in November, 1860, the country was plunged into feverish excitement over the problems arising out of the secession of the southern states. The news of the day was so much in demand that the local weekly newspaper, the Northern Indianian put out a daily news-sheet during the crisis.

The Northern Indianian office was located on the third floor of the building which was then known as the Shane grocery building. Incidentally the building is still standing today although the third floor has been removed. Judd's Drug Store occupies the downstairs floor of the building today.

The news of the firing on Ft. Sumpter spread rapidly through Warsaw and Kosciusko county. In writing about the day, Reuben Williams, the editor of the North Indianian stated that "there must have been eight hundred to one thousand person crowded around the building on the day the news arrived. As fast as the little paper was printed, it was flung out of the upper windows to the throng below where it was eagerly seized and zealously fought for and torn up in the excitement to procure a copy."

The dispatch announcing Lincoln's call for troops reached Warsaw the next day at about 11 a.m. Williams had handbills printed at once calling for a meeting of the citizens of the town and county to be held at Empire Hall in Warsaw that evening. Fifty men signed up for service on that first night. These fifty were not the first Kosciuskoans to enlist, however. In order to be the first to volunteer, three Warsaw men --Reuben Williams, Andrew S. Milice and Marsh H. Parks --went to the county auditor's office on the afternoon of April 15 and signed up. As there were no regular recruiting blanks available, the auditor made up one for the three eager volunteers.

Warsaw Times-Union Tues., Apr 14, 1953