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American Civil War - April 22, 2016

  Senator James Lane of Kansas, ca. 1860-1870. (Photo Courtesy of Library of Congress)

Q: This week, back in 1861, the so-called "Frontier Guard" from Kansas was called into action. WHAT and WHO was this group of volunteers guarding at the time?

A: The White House and President Lincoln
In April 1861, the all-volunteer Frontier Guard, from Kansas, was called into action to guard the White House and President Abe Lincoln. These were the opening days of the American Civil War and many of those living in Washington, D.C., feared there were so many southern-sympathizers in the nation’s capital that the president was in danger of assassination or kidnapping.
Enter the “Frontier Guard,” led by Jim Lane, the daring and flamboyant (some say “crazy”) U.S. Senator-turned general from Kansas. Senator / General Lane and his men had been living at the Willard Hotel since April 13, 1861 – a day after union troops were attacked at Fort Sumter, near Charleston, South Carolina. 
On April 18, 1861, the Frontier Guard took up residence in the East Room of the president’s official residence. But their guard duty didn’t last long. By early May, Washington was crawling with Union troops and there was less concern about a potential attack from Confederate rebels and southern sympathizers. The volunteers from Kansas were no longer needed at the White House. 
For their roughly two weeks of largely uneventful service to president and country, Lane and his unofficial, non-army group of Kansas volunteer fighters did receive the personal thanks of President Lincoln. So, yeah, that was pretty cool.

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