The Civil War in Wisconsin

In 1856, the new Republican party across the North organized young men's marching clubs called "Rocky Mountain Clubs", "Wide Awakes", "Freedom Clubs", and "Bear Clubs" The term "Wide Awakes" became popular in the 1860 campaign. "Speeches, day and night, torch-light processions, and all kinds of noise and confusion are the go, with all parties," commented the "independent" Indianapolis Locomotive.

The standard Wide Awake uniform consisted of a full robe or cape, a black glazed hat, and a torch six feet in length to which a large, flaming, pivoting whale-oil container was mounted. Clad in these gaudy uniforms the members of these quasi-military bands participated in all Republican demonstrations. Activities were conducted primarily in the evening and consisted of several night-time torch-lit marches through cities in the northeast and border states.
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