Citizens from town, country, and university gathered on Courthouse Square for important civic events. In 1861, friends of the Union assembled there to hear reports of the Confed-erate army attack on Fort Sumter. On April 15, university president Henry Tappan and other prominent townspeople went to the old Court-house to address citizens about the crisis. The meeting overflowed across the square into the street. Resolutions were passed supporting President Lincoln and establishing a committee to assist in organizing military companies.
Four Ann Arbor military units were quickly formed. The "Silver Greys," a Home Guard unit made up of men over age forty-five, included Tappan and the town's most illustrious citizens.