The first shots of the Civil War were fired on January 10, 1861 when South Carolinians on Morris Island fired on the Union ship "Star of the West" as it attempted to reinforce Major Anderson at Fort Sumter.
Adam's brother, Philip, became the first member of the family to enlist on (34)October 15, 1862 at Green Springs, VA at the age of 19 years and 5 months. It is very likely an incident that took place two months prior that had an influence on his decision to do so.
The circumstances that led up to the incident would be only a matter of speculation so we won't stray too far down that path. On (73)August 8, 1862 Union Soldiers, of the Potomac Home Guard, stationed in Cumberland, MD, crossed the Potomac River and marched down the Old Furnace Road to the Abe Farm. There they placed John Adam Abe under arrest. Why not Philip, his older brother, or younger brother Frederick? Why not his father Nicholas? Along with Adam Abe, five other persons were taken into custody the same day. They were John Long and his sons Noah and Nelson and also Jerome McKenzie (McKinzie or McKinsey) and his son Jonathan Oliver. Again there are more questions. What could the members of three different families have done to cause their arrest by the military? The only indication of the charges is in (34)"The Virginia Regimental Histories Series" book "11th Virginia Cavalry" 2nd Edition by Richard L. Anderson and published in 1989 which says that he was arrested for "aiding the rebels". It still doesn't specifically say what they did.
We do know that John Long and his sons were a half uncle and half cousins to Adam Abe. They are children and grandchildren of Adam's maternal grandfather and his first wife. The McKenzie father and son also lived close by at (76)"Dwelling #1449" in the 1850 Census. The Abe Farm was at (3)"Dwelling #1474". The John Long residence was at (77)"Dwelling #1485". It is conceivable to say that whatever took place to cause his arrest that all six of them were there together, maybe in Cumberland, MD. Did they say something against the Union? Were they defending the South? Cumberland was a mixture of sympathizers for both sides but the Union held the city. Did someone else turn them in and if so who was it? More questions for us to ponder.
(73)No matter what happened six men and boys were taken as Prisoner Of War by the 2nd Regiment, Maryland Infantry, Potomac Home Brigade (stationed at Cumberland, Maryland) and transferred to Wheeling (still VA at this time). From there they were moved to a prison camp in Camp Chase, Ohio. John Adam was transferred there on August 20, 1862 as Prisoner #764. A incarceration record for Camp Chase prison describes him as "Adam Abe, age 17 1/2, 5'8" tall, Black eyes, Dark hair and Dark complexion - A citizen of Hampshire County, VA, Captured on August 8, 1862. Received from Wheeling, VA by order of Major Joseph Darr - Provost Marshal". His release record, dated December 22, 1862 says his condition of release was to take the "Oath of Allegiance" to the Union and report to Major Darr. I guess Major Darr gave him a final set of warnings and what was required of him after release. When he is released, John Adam Abe has spent nearly 5 months as a P.O.W.
UPDATE: Newly found (116) John Adam Abe P.O.W. Records are now published for your viewing. See also the post "They Abandoned the 77th Virginia Militia 11-004". This posting gives a little more information on why John Adam was taken as a P.O.W. These records add to but do not change anything already published.
UPDATE: A signed (116)statement, by John Adam, on December 23, 1862 states that for his condition of release he would within 15 days of the date, file a $1000.00 bond with the Clerk of Court in Hampshire County, WV. This would have been in Romney, WV. This bond would be the guarantee that he would not fight for the Confederacy during the time of his probation. A large bond like this would most likely have to be backed by the family farm as collateral. This would explain why John Adam waited a whole year before he joined his brother, Philip, in the 11th Virginia Cavalry. If he violated his probation, the family would risk losing the farm. He also, within the 15 day time period, would have to repay the cost of his transportation from the P.O.W. camp in Wheeling, WV to Cumberland, MD.