A website from the Massachusetts Historical Society; founded 1791.



In 1862, the Union is in need of troops. Initial war fever has diminished, and initial expectations have collided with the realities of war. Broadsides and songs are two different tools used to recruit soldiers.


Selection from the Massachusetts Historical Society: To arms! To arms!: Men of Massachusetts! Your country is in danger!, [Boston: 1862].
Selection from the Library of Congress: Abraham's Draft, written & arranged by J. W. Turner, 1862.

Questions to Consider


  1. Who is this broadside trying to recruit and why? What do the creators of this poster hope to prevent?
  2. Who is Abraham? What is the creator of this song hoping to persuade listeners to do? Describe the argument of this song in a sentence.


  1. What was happening in the Civil War in 1862, and how is that reflected in these documents? Why was it so much easier to recruit men at the beginning of the war than in 1862?
  2. What specific groups are being targeted for recruitment in the broadside? In the song? Were there any types of people who were not allowed to join up? What happened to them?


  1. What techniques of persuasion does the broadside use? Why does it ask "Has she erred in placing her confidence in you?" What types of pride does it draw on? What fears does it draw on? Why does it mention Lexington and Concord?
  2. What methods of persuasion does this song use, and how does it compare to those used by the broadside? Are either of them missing information, arguments, or other elements that would make them more effective?


  1. Make your own poster or write your own lyrics to a popular tune to recruit soldiers for the Civil War. Explain what information, methods of persuasion, and other elements you have included in your appeal, and why.
  2. The broadside uses words and visuals to communicate, while the song uses music and communicates audibly. Does one reach an audience the other can't?


  1. Imagine the response to the broadside and the song of a soldier like Wilder Dwight or a nurse like Hannah Stevenson or Clara Barton. How do their experiences connect or conflict with the images of war portrayed in the two documents before you?