In the years leading up to the Civil War, Massachusetts was a center of abolitionist activity. Two prominent abolitionists from the state were Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison who founded the New England Anti-Slavery Society in 1832. The movement increased antagonism over the issues of slavery resulting in anti-abolitionist riots in Massachusetts between 1835 and 1837.
Boston was the major slave trading port and most of the wealthy families of Massachusetts traced their wealth to the slave trade.
Massachusetts was among the first states to respond President Lincoln's call for troops. Massachusetts was the first state to recruit, train and arm a black regiment, with white officers, the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.
|Furnished White Troops||122,781|
|Furnished Sailors and Marines||19,983|
|Furnished Colored Troops||2,966|
|Total Troops Furnished||146,730|
|Killed and Mortally Wounded||6,115|
|Died of Disease||5,530|
|Died as Prisoner||1,483|
|Died from Accidents||257|
|Died from Causes Except Battle||557|
The Bay State was a significant supplier of war materiel and supplies for the Union Army. Among the industrial concerns that were based in Massachusetts during the war were the Adams Express Company (which secretly maintained control over its Southern subsidiary during the war, despite government bans of trade with the South) and the Elias Howe Company, which provided drums and fifes for Massachusetts troops during the war. Several Massachusetts companies produced steam engines and railcars for civilian and military usage during the Civil War, including Globe Locomotive Works and Hinkley Locomotive Works.
Arms and munitions were also an important part of Massachusetts industrial output. Private companies such as Smith & Wesson and the National Arms Company enjoyed significant U.S. government contracts to produce weapons and ammunition. The largest Federal government-owned factory was the Springfield Armory, maker of the Springfield Rifle.
Notable Civil War leaders from Massachusetts included Union generals Nathaniel Prentice Banks, Darius N. Couch, Joseph Hooker, Edwin V. Sumner, and Nelson A. Miles.
Boston-born Albert Pike served as a general in the Confederate army, as did Albert Blanchard, who was born near Boston in Charlestown.