- Whats On This Page
It seemed appropriate to add a few bits of primary
source material here, to the End of the Year pages. The
Massachusetts State Archives Executive Correspondence files for the
13th Regiment is full of letters to the governor's office, each with
some connection to the 13th Regiment or the men in it.
A good portion of the letters are soldiers, and their
family and friends, writing on behalf of a particular volunteer
soldier, seeking advancement via an officer's commission in a new
approved by the State. I've channelled a few of these
letters into an essay that
explores Governor John A. Andrew's policy authorizing
commissions. William Schouler's book, "Massachusetts in the Civil
War" provided insight into the workings of the State Office.
Schouler was Governor Andrew's Adjutant General.
A sampling of other letters contained in the collection,
and the various troubles and concerns they addressed to the governor,
posted here in the section, "Problems, Problems."
Moving on, I found a couple case histories of 13th MA
soldiers, in the Medical and Surgical History of the War. These
can be difficult reading. They give full accounts and grizzly
details of what happens to flesh and bone when it meets rapidly
moving lead and iron. But I have spared the reader the worst of
it, by summarizing a
Another noteworthy entry on this page is the story of Private Francis
While working on the Gettysburg Campaign, I came across
volunteer nurse Martha Ehler's narrative of her work at the College
Church in Gettysburg after the battle. One of the anecdotes
gave in a published memoir suggested her patient was a 13th MA
man. The circumstances of the deaths of Privates Frank Gould and
George Sprague, Co. K, fit perfectly with the details given in nurse
I wrote about it extensively on my 13thmassblog. To place the
story here on this page,
I've cobbled together some of Martha Ehler's recollections with facts
about Frank and George. The color image of Frank was shared with
me by Mr. Joseph Antos.
The last story on this page was found among the letters
in the Executive Correspondence Collection at the MA State
Archives. Michael O'Laughlin's mother requested her
son's body be returned home to Shrewsbury, MA for burial after his
October 8th death from wounds received in battle at Gettysburg.
But the authorities in charge of the new National Cemetery at
Gettysburg had designated O'Laughlin to be buried in the
Massachusetts plot there, and they would not
I've ended the
page with transcribed documents from Michael's Pension File.
seemed an appropriate page title considering the eclectic nature of the
stories presented here.
PICTURE CREDITS: Mayor William
is from findagrave; George Maynard & Sigourney Wales are from
the American Antiquarian Society Digital Collections; The John Andrew
and David Wills portraits are from National Park Service; Image of the
Shrewsbury from the website greenpasture.com; Shrewsbury CW Monument by
Patrick T.J. Browne, at the Massachusetts CW Monument Project; Portrait
of Frank A. Gould from Joseph Antos ; Portrait of Henry Baugher
is from "A Sanctuary For The Wounded, published by Christ Evangelical
Lutheran Church, 2009; Private Philon Whidden, Company B,
authors' collection courtesy of Scott Hann; Henry Harris, Company A,
author's collection courtesy of Tim Sewell, a descendant of Priv. James
Lowell; Contemporary Photographs are by the author, Bradley M.
Forbush; ALL IMAGES have been
EDITED in PHOTOSHOP.
Top of Page
Promoted to New Regiments
to Massachusetts Governor John Andrew, from influential and prominent
Boston and surrounding towns, are plentiful in the two volumes of
executive correspondence pertaining to the 13th Mass. Regiment,
preserved in the State Archives. Governor Andrew’s staff were
receptive to all inquiries concerning the welfare of Massachusetts
soldiers judging from the papers preserved. Most of the
collection consists of letters written early in the war, by family
members or prominent
friends of families, seeking officer’s commissions for their sons then
serving in the field. Several endorsements from 13th MA officers
to the Governor are also on file, recommending specific
soldiers worthy of promotion to a 2nd Lieutenancy.
William Schouler, Adjutant General of Massachusetts
“Governor Andrew had established a rule for making
appointments, from which he seldom departed during the Rebellion.
This rule was based upon the principle of selecting the best men he
could find, without regard to personal or political affinities.
Whenever he could obtain the services of an experienced and educated
officer to command a Massachusetts regiment, he commissioned him. The
selection of officers for commands he regarded as the most solemn duty
which the war imposed on him.”
Here are a few examples of letters on file.
Private Matthew Walsh,
William Welman to Adjt. Genl. Schouler
Boston, Oct. 24, 1861.
Adj. Genl. Schouler,
Mathew Walsh, private in Co. E, 13th Regt. / Capt. Pratt
/ was born of Irish parents, in Neuyak, (but has resided many years in
Roxbury; & he is well known as a steady, industrious, intelligent
person, & from good authority is reported a good soldier;
& I hope he may receive promotion.
W. A. Wellman
William Gaston, Mayor of Roxbury Re:
Matthew Walsh, [On File, No Address]
William Gaston (Oct 3 1820 - Jan 19
1894) was a
conservative Democrat lawyer elected Mayor of Roxbury in 1860.
conservative policies drew the support of many Republicans.
[LETTERHEAD] City of
Roxbury, CITY HALL.
Mayor’s Office, Oct 25 1861
I am not formally acquainted,
with Matthew Walsh, private in Co. E, of 13th Regt. Mass); but a
gentleman in whose statements I repose entire confidence has spoken to
me, of him, in favorable terms. I know several gentlemen, whose names
are on the petition for his appointment to the office of
Lieutenant. And I think they would not recommend any one for that
office, whom they did not believe to be worthy of the appointment –– I
hope that he may receive the office which his friends seek for him
Walsh's record from the roster says he
mustered out March 10, 1863, after going missing at the 2nd Battle of
Bull Run, August 30, 1862. Here it is, as stated:
"Matthew R. Walsh; age, 28; born, Harlem, N.Y.; currier; mustered in as
priv., Co. E, July 16, '61; mustered out, Jan. 13, '63; residence, 4
Dabney pl., Roxbury, Mass."
Notes in the Regiment Descriptive
books don't add much to the record: "Missing in action August
30, 1862. Discharged March 10, 1863. Battles: Cedar
Mountain." The Regiment descriptive list says, "Discharged,
Disability, January 13, 1863." Walsh did file for an Invalid
Pension in May, 1863. In May, 1912 his widow filed for a pension.
No other records are available. It
appears he wasn't in the service long enough to gain promotion.
Walsh did frequently attend the Thirteenth Regiment Association
Re-Union dinners in Boston. His death was recorded in the
Circulars as December 28, 1911.
Henry A. Harris,
Private Harris was more successful than
Matthew Walsh in terms of getting an officer's appointment, but it took
some time, like it did for most who applied.
Haverhill Mass Oct 28th 1862
To His Excellency John A.
Gov. & Commander in Chief
The person Henry A. Harris recommended for promotion
by Col. Leonard
and Capt. Neat of the 13th Regt. was formerly a resident of this place
and many of us being personally acquainted with him, can recommend him
a young man of good moral character , steady and temperate habits, and
cheerfully endorse the petition of his
N S Kimball Selectmen
A. A. Sargent
A.B. Jaques Town Clerk
James F. Duncan
CP Messer, Col. 50th Regt. M.V.M.
The Petition is Referred to Colonel
Leonard for Comment––
Colonel Leonard enthusiastically
endorsed the recommendation to promote Harris. Mr. Spears refers
to Sergeant Harris, though the roster lists him as Private.
Boston, March 7, /63
Respectfully referred to Col. Leonard of the 13th Mass
Reg’t. for his report – whether he will recommend Serg’t Henry A.
Harris for the next promotion as 2d Lieut, in his regt.
Jos. B. Spears
13th Mass Vols
March 20 1863
I do not see that I can do anything at present,
as others have prior claims. I should be pleased if he could get
promotion in some regiment, as he is worthy of it.
I am respectfully
S H Leonard
Shortly after receiving Colonel Leonard's endorsement in
1863, Harris was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in one of the new
regiments of Colored
Troops then forming. His record: Promoted
Colored Troops, March 22, 1863.
(Roster says March 7, 1863, commissioned 2d Lt., 82d U.S. Colored
Troops; 1st Lt., Jan. 29, 1864; Capt., August, 1864. Final Muster
Out, September 7, 1866.) (Regt. Descriptive Book says, Private.
Discharged March 22, '63, at New York by Special Order 77 War
Department to receive promotion in Gen'l Ulman's Brigade.
Battles, Thoroughfare Gap, 2nd Bull Run, So. Mountain, Antietam,
Maynard, Company D, October 23,
Perhaps the boldest letter in the
collection is this one, sent directly to Major-General N.P. Banks from
Private George Maynard, Company D. In a letter home, September
11, 1861, while encamped at Darnestown, MD, Private John B. Noyes of
Company B wrote:
“Our regiment is without doubt made up
of the best material that has left the State, and our Company of the
best educated and most intelligent men in the regiment. There are
several men in our company whose father’s money is measured by the tens
of thousands. One of them has a large government contract for
army bootes. All the men in my tent have been in easy
circumstances at home, and some are men of a good deal of
refinement. ...Two or three men of our mess, who are well
acquainted with Banks visited him at his Headquarters yesterday.
They were received with great cordiality, and treated to fruit by Mrs.
Banks, the Gen’l leaving his tent on business. The sentinel at the
Gen’s Head quarters stared at our mess-fellows with goggle eyes when
they asked to see the Major General.”
The luster had fallen from
General Banks' career after the disaster at Cedar Mountain, August 9th
1862. He was on the sidelines awaiting a new
assignment when Maynard wrote him. Private Maynard had no
hesitation about appealing
directly to the Former Governor of Massachusetts for promotion.
Banks made no hesitation to reply.
Maj. Gen. N. P. Banks––
Dear Sir ––
A short time since I sent you a recommendation for
promotion, signed by my Regimental Officers, which you kindly approved
The same was presented to the Governor, but being so
overrun with similar applications at that time, it failed to have the
desired effect –– since, however, Col. Ritchie promised my brother, S.
O. Upham [Samuel Otis Upham] that he would give me a commission
provided I could present a personal letter from some General Officer––
having performed the duties of a private for 15 months
and participated in all the late engagements under Generals
Pope and McClellan, I am not ashamed to say that I am ambitious and
desire promotion, feeling confident of my ability to fill the position
of Lieutenant, I humbly ask your assistance––
With much respect I
remain Your most
Geo. H. Maynard
Co. D, 13th Regt
[General Banks Endorsement
Written on Reverse]
Astor House New York
Nov 7th 1862:
Respectfully referred his Excellency John A Andrew
Governor of Massachusetts and recommended favorable consideration.
N. P. Banks
George Maynard's record from the regimental
roster isn't embellished in any way, and resembles the record of
several others who received promotion in other regiments. It
says, "George H. Maynard; age, 25; born, Waltham, Mass.; Watchmaker;
mustered in as priv., Co. D, July 20, '61; mustered out, Feb. 17, '63;
promoted to capt. and major in U.S. C.T.; residence, Waltham,
Mass." His record in the Regiment Descriptive List says,
"Discharged for Promotion February 17, 1863. Promoted 1st
Lieutenant, U.S. Colored Troops, discharged as Captain, September 9,
1866. (from Discharge paper.)" A note on the side says, "Medal of
Honor." Maynard was the one member of the 13th MA who was awarded
the Medal of Honor. The brave deeds that earned him his
nomination and reward are outlined on the Fredericksburg page of this
website, as written by 13th MA comrade Walter Swan.
Wales, Company C
The followng Officer endorsement and
letter is typical of many documents found in the Executive
Correspondence Collection at the MA State Archives.
Captain William Jackson's Endorsement,
February 27, 1862
Copy of the
February 27th 1862.
To all whom it may concern,
I have the pleasure of recommending Sergt. Wales of my
Company to a
Lieutenancy he is fully qualified to fill a post of trust, well
posted in the school of the Soldier and guides and military discipline,
he has been Sergeant since the formation of the Company in June 1861,
and has attended to his duties in a Soldierly manner.
W. M. Jackson
Head-Quarters 13th Reg’t.
Williamsport Feb’y 28th
I endorse the recommendations of the above named party.
S. H. Leonard
Lt. Con’l. 13th Regt. Mass. Vol.
Thomas Wales to Col. Harrison Ritchie,
A.G. Office, November 6th, 1862
Boston Nov 6th ’62
Col H Ritchie
First let me thank you for your kindness
in advancing my son
Nathaniel Wales ––now Adjt of the 35th Regt Mass. Vol. Next I
wish to call your attention to the inclosed copy of a letter handed to Councilor
Ritchie some time near the date of the
letter. As there
has been some promotions since then I fear the Honorable Gentleman may
have forgotten to place it in Your hands
Sigourney Wales is a son of the late Samuel Wales who
was for a number
––a member from Boston of the Massachusetts Legislature
And a staunch
Republican to the last moment of his life he died some three years
since leaving his Widow and this son and a Married Daughter all without
property. The Widow and this son managed to get along comfortably
But when the War broke out he belonged to the “4th Battalion of Rifles”
and when they formed up the 13th Regt. he was so earnest to go that
finally his Mother consented, and
has had a pretty hard time getting her living with what little help a Sergeant
could give her out of his
wages. And to help along
until he should get a Commission so that he could [get]
something better towards her support, I have loaned him
money and given her what I could and her other friends have
also done some little,
towards making her Comfortable. As she and he both had a great
aversion to taking the “State Aid” and lived along in hopes of promotion
when they would not need it. But at
last he has written on that he had been in the service 15 or 16 months
as Sergeant and
“State Aid” for that time would be some 50 or 60$ and wished me to get
it. But I find they only pay 3 mos. back so they only get 13$
Is it not possible for him to be promoted?
they will not need the “Aid”, yours truly
Thomas C. Wales
Colonel Leonard Endorses A Promotion For
Wales, February 4, 1863
The record is ambiguous but it seems
Sergeant Wales received his officer's commission in the 13th Regiment
on February 4th, but soon left in May, for a captain's rank in the 55th
M.V.I. Colored Regiment.
Head Quarters 13th Reg’t Mass
In Camp near Fletcher’s Chapel Va
February 4, 1863.
To His Excellency
John H. Andrew, Gov’r of Mass.
I have the honor to recommend to you for promotion the
Second Lieut. Morton Tower, to be First lieut. in place
of 1st Lieut
Chas. F. Morse, resigned and Appointed Capt. & C. of S.
Sergeant Sigourney Wales of Co. C, to be 2nd Lieut in
place of Morton
I have the honor to be Sir
Your out. Serv’t
Col 13th Regt Mass Vols.
Sigourney Wales record in the roster is as
follows; "age, 25; born, Boston; clerk; mustered
in as sergt., Co. C, July 16, '6l; mustered out as 1st lieut., May 28,
'63; was promoted to capt., in the 55th Mass.; residence, 22 Hadley
St., N. Cambridge, Mass." [Regt. Descriptive List says, 2d Lieut.
February 3, 1863. Captain 55 M.V. May 28, 1863.] (Regt.
Descriptive Book says, 3rd
Sergeant. Promoted to 1st Sergeant Nov. 1, 1862.) Wales
ended up an officer in the 55th MA Regiment. Sometime in their
service they were stationed at Folly Island, South Carolina.
Somewhere in my files, Wales is quoted for using the golden web of a
local species of spider found on the island, to make faux gold rings
and other trinkets.
––Another 13th MA veteran, Lt. Charles B.
Fox, was a high ranking officer of this famous
organization. Fox began his service as 2nd Lieutenant in
Company K. He was promoted 1st Lieutenant in August, 1862.
His letters show that ever since he went to the front, he wanted a
chance to do more for the cause than a 2nd Lieutenant could. And
he rightly believed he would have to seek promotion outside the 13th,
simply because he was last in line of the officers for promotion within
the regiment. He left the 13th for the 2nd MA Cavalry in December
1862, but shortly afterward was appointed Major in the new 55th
He would rise to Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment. His journal
was used to write the regiment's history.
Return to Table of Contents
Wiley Prince Lobbies for her Son,
Charles N. W. Cunningham
Charles N. W. Cunningham, the son of Carolyn Wiley
Prince was one such soldier, who had a recommendation on file in the
Governor’s office. It was an endorsement by Captain James
A. Fox of Company A.
Carolyn was unaware of Governor Andrew's policy for promotion, but she
prominent families were using their influence to access the governor’s
office to put forward their sons. She refused to be left
out. She worked hard on her own to
the governor for her son’s advancement.
Carolyn’s letters are full of unusual and creative
prose. Three of her letters are preserved in the Executive
Correspondence Collection pertaining to the 13th MA Volunteers, at the
MA Archives. But
the two she wrote direct to Governor Andrew seem to be missing
pages. I simply could not arrange more than two pages of her
first letter on file, into a coherent
continuity. Only one sheet of the second letter she wrote
to the Governor is preserved, if indeed that was its length, but one
edge of it is obscured by the way it is glued into the
scrapbook. It is unclear if a page might be
missing. But, her quirky, sincere entreaties and literary style
are too good to pass up
entirely so I will quote liberally from them.
She first wrote Governor Andrew, January
14th 1862. She begins with a rambling introduction explaining she
will be direct in stating her objective.
Carolyn Wiley Prince, to Governor John
Andrew, January 14, 1862
14th January '62
“To His Excellency
Gov. Andrew, of Mass.
As the creation of precedents seems to be much in vogue
just now and as no Salic law [Salic law excluded females–B.F.]
prevents our sex from approaching the throne, by letter, at least I
venture to adopt this method, at once Simple & unostentatious
to communicate with you. I have no friend at Court
to present on bended knee, and in set phrase of words, writ
courtier –– like manner, this letter –– after it is written. It will
find its way to you however, by the routine our government has marked
out for the missives of the high and powerful, as well as the poor and
lowly. To insure it being read, or rather, that I may feel more secure
in the hope that it will be, I shall make it as short and concise as
possible, waiving the prerogative which attaches to us women of
commencing our plan of attack at an immense distance from the
subject nearest our heart, “like a spider, who to entrap the fly…”
After this rather wordy introducton she explains her son
aspired to a military career in the regular army, and wasn’t just
seeking promotion because of the current conflict.
I am happy in being able to state that in the store
(Whiston & Bartlette’s) he disposed himself creditably never
however relinquishing a hope that he would sometime be able to join the
Army. As might be expected the progress of unusual Events
transpiring in our country, as heralded by the press of last winter
& spring, awakened an interest in his mind, and he took great care
to understand them so that when Sumpter surrendered and the tocsin
sounded thereafter, “to Arms”! he was among the first of the boys
to join the 4th Battle of Rifles, subsequently
pressed into a Regiment, styled the 13th. The
character of this Regiment as a whole is so well known that I refrain
from adding even an encomium, but I take this occasion to enclose to
your Excellency a copy of a letter, or certificate, given to my son by
his Captain, James A. Fox of Co. A, which will at once show to you the
position my son sustains in his Com. and wherein, with such evidence
before you –– you would have any hesitation in bestowing a Commission
upon him I cannot doubt. I know how pressed you are by similar
applications –– It is with great diffidence I address
you on such a subject, or indeed at all, because I might to procure
many letters from influential Bostonians to back the application
––perhaps were I to ask for them I might succeed, but my
exertion might not be acceptable to you –– And after all I opine that
such a letter as the one to which I refer from a military man of the
practical experience and general knowledge which characters Capt. Fox
is really worth more, or ought to be, than those from gentlemen of
State or Beacon Streets.
That Mr. C. N. W. C. is respectable I could refer
the following gentlemen who will attest it –– Sidney B. Morse,
Esq. J. H. W. Page, Esq, Dr. A. A. Gould –– Hon. J.
H. Shaw, Nantucket, & several others. (My husband being
absent I board in the country ––and have been but very little in the
city for many years )––
You will think strange perhaps that I send you a ‘copy’
of the letter, instead of the original. The reason is, this letter may
never reach you –– so many you must daily receive but that it is a true
copy Mr. J. B. Morse or Mayor H. C. Brooks who have seen
the original, which I have....
At some point she describes her son,
then closes the letter, (the stars were drawn on the original):
In age, between 18 & 19 –– and the appearance of 23
or 4 ––; in height, 5 ft 11 in; in weight 155 lbs–– very
muscular, healthy, and strong.
* * *
I cannot close without making an earnest appeal to your
Excellency in behalf of my son–– Should you choose to give him a
Commission I do know that he would do Credit to your choice, and you
would chance but one regret, and that would be, that I had not appealed
to you earlier, which I should have done had he not, soon after mailing
Capt Fox’s certificate written me that he thought there would be a
battle before the Holidays –– I received a note yesterday from a young
man, formerly of the 4th Batt. 18th Regt. (now a Lieut. in
another) –– who advised me to apply to you for Mr. C. N. W. C. and he
observed, “your son knows as much or more about military than I do.”
I have written at much greater length, than when I
commenced I intended, but may I ask your leniency for the
intrusion if such you deem it.
Carolyn followed up her colorful January letter
to Governor Andrew in February, 1862, when she wrote to one of his
Carolyn Wiley Prince to Thomas Drew, Gov.
Thomas Drew, Esq
Since I have the honor to receive acknowledgement,
signature, of my note to Gov. Andrew dated Jan. 14th I am aware
of having incidentally noticed your name in the Newspaper as occupying
some other position in the State other than Appointed Military
Secretary (Although I do not now remember what.) Nevertheless, as
I cannot, without some exertion recapitulate to your successor those
facts relative to my son, (C. N. W. Cunningham, Co. A, 13th which to
His Excellency I embodied in the note alluded to–– Nor is it
necessary. and it is your construction of reply your note
in fact, so kind in its tone sympathetic and touching to my feelings as
a Mother, so indicative of the healthful moral atmosphere of your
Surroundings, that Embolden me to address you personally, and make one
or two Enquiries, which I feel quite sure you will answer –– or cause
to be answered.
You will recall to mind that I applied for a Commission
for my son, including a Certificate of
recommendation from his Captain, endorsing his fitness for a
Lieutenancy in some Regiment now organizing, or at present organized,
&c I am assured “it is placed on file––” Now
what this means and to what it is
Equivalent. I know, moreover
that “there is no existing vacancy––” They were being
filled about the time I wrote. I read some of the newspapers and
I am on the qui vive, [alert] for I
have but one sole thought –– one
idea –– one hope –– one aspiration ––one ambition –– and the
whereof, of this one hers, is my soldier–boy–! Soldier by birth
and from love of the profession –– not, as Most of the present ones,
from want of employment and the existing emergency.
Now, I read in the “Transcript” a few days since that
being formed or recruited for Garison duty at Fort Independence, and it
occurred to me that smart,
athletic, young, experienced men
wanted to officer these companies, and it occurred to me as a Mother
that when that file, from which officers are selected, should be
appealed to, my son’s name would be very nearly if not quite at the
bottom, and I would fain have it a little more prominent –– for
instance, if that “file” could only be adjusted alphabetically with the
photographs of applicants, I am quite sure that one, now
regretfully inactive on the Potomac, would stand a very good chance of
Do you think of any measures which I, (or any friend, of
I could find a useful one of the right kind) could take to procure a
Commission for my son other than waiting for resignations or losses in
the Regiment to which he is attached? Would a recommendation from
Col. Leonard be of any more avail than the one from Capt Fox whom no
one can or did doubt is a man of Eminent fitness in his profession?
My son has no influential, wealthy friend or relatives,
to aid him to
the summit of Fortune’s hill. He has to mount it himself; but if
a hand is intended to smooth the way upward and onward he will
gratefully grasp it, and do credit and honor to his patron. Of
this I am sure. I know his antecedents.
I should like much to have him recalled to serve in this
neighborhood, and this is the reason I
write to you, for you may think of some available means which I could
employ to bring it about. I have mentioned this to no other than
yourself –– a gentleman whom I have never seen, and please do overlook
the presumption for I am impelled by the anxiety incident to my
relation as Mother, and guardian of a good and brave son––
I have, since writing to Gov. A, removed into the City
My husband being in the Army (18th Regt. Mass. V.––
I have the honor, Sir
To subscribe Myself
Yours, with the highest respect,
C. Willey Prince.
5 Cambridge Street
Feb. 19, 1862.
Capt Fox’s Endorsement of Cunningham
A copy of Captain Fox's endorsement
accompanied Carolyn's correspondence.
Head Quarters, Detachment
Advance Guard, Army of Upper Potomac
Hancock, Md. Nov. 29th 1861.
I take pleasure in recommending a Lieutenancy in some
organizing, or at present organized, Charles N. W. Cunningham, a
private in my company. My knowledge of his ability to worthily
fill such a position, is derived from observations of his conduct
during the last seven months, first, in the drill room at Boston
––then, at Fort Independence, on Garrison duty ––and lastly, four
months active service with me at the seat of war.
Men of his experience are wanted in the new Regiments as
combined with which he has the rare qualifications for such an officer.
James A. Fox
Capt. 13th Regt Mass. Vols.
Commanding Federal Forces at
and near Hancock, Md.
Although Carolyn didn’t believe it, Capt. Fox’s
endorsement of her son Charles was on file at the Governor’s
and it was on a list of names of other men from the regiment
received similar endorsements from their respective officers in the
13th, and the list was consulted when opportunities
this fact would have been hard to convince anyone of its truth,
particularly if they had no close connection to the Governor.
What Carolyn didn’t know is that Governor Andrew was struggling with
the very problem of getting commissions to experienced men in the
field. On August 15, 1862, Governor Andrew wrote in a letter:
“For more than a month I have been engaged in a
constant struggle with town officers to get deserving men from the
field appointed to lieutenancies and captaincies in the new regiments,
in preference to ignorant civilians, who have every thing military yet
to learn. In most instances, I have failed, owing to the
necessity I am under of hastening enlistments as much as possible, and
to the town authorities declaring, officially and individually, that
they cannot raise men unless men at home, and from civil life, are
appointed officers; and owing also to the fact that the
Administration will allow no man to be appointed from the field, until
all the men are raised whom he is to command. The result
is, that I have on my files several hundred of applications from
prominent officers of Burnside’s army and of the Army of the Potomac
and of Virginia, recommending the promotion, into new regiments, of men
who have distinguished themselves in the field for uniform good conduct
and great bravery.”
Sidney B. Morse’s Letter to Gov. Andrew
sends copy of Fox’s Letter.
The date of this letter is obscured but
it seems to be a follow up from the above correspondence. The
author, Mr. Sidney B. Morse is one of the prominent,
gentlemen-references Carolyn listed in her first letter.
more help couldn't hurt her cause, she enlisted some from her friend.
My dear Sir: ––
With Mr. Spear I left a copy of Capt Fox’s certificate
Cunningham. It is his intention to be a soldier for life if he
can get a position in the regular army Since his enlistment he
has worked incessantly to merit promotion –– with what success you can
judge from Captain Fox’s written words which Mr Spear said he would put
into your hands He delights in camp life and most ardently
desires to be in active service where there will be a chance of earning
Laurels for brave and daring deeds It is in the volunteer service
that he looks for promotion now All of his letters to his mother
and sisters are joyful and full of fun ––not a word of complaint
He has a good education and brains in full supply –– he
will make a
discreet and dashing officer I told the mother and sisters
that I would solicit you to promote him, and I do beg of you most
respectfully to give this matter (a small one to yourself but of great
importance to Cunningham and his family) more than a passing
notice. In saying to you that the family are poor but highly
respectable will make you the more ready to give him your aid and
support or else I have misunderstood your character after an
intimate acquaintance of a quarter of a century. How happy
you can make this family by aiding in his promotion, and then by it,
doing the state service
His grand father family line is Hancock etc.
Newton Willey Esq,
at that time he was one of our most respectable merchants engaged in
the East India trade George Willey Esq who resides at
Cleveland Ohio is his uncle ––a man of some note in his profession –– a
lawyer Doctor Willey an uncle resides at St. Paul
Minn. He enjoys wide fame in his profession It will
give me great pleasure Governor, to say to his friends that you have
put him forward into a position where he can best serve his country
With much respect
I am yours
Sidney B. Morse
In the early months of 1863, Massachusetts began to
organize the 54th Regiment, made up of Black volunteers, officered by
experienced white veterans. There were so many men eager to
enlist that the Governor decided to organize a 2nd Black Regiment, the
55th Massachusetts. And there were other regiments
organizing. Several 13th MA men whose names were on that list
Carolyn was so skeptical of, were actually granted commissions in these
In March 1863, after a year of waiting, Carolyn
again appealed directly to Governor John Andrew. Only a single sheet of
exists on file in the Executive Correspondence scrapbook, and a good
part of page two is obscured by how it was glued into the
portfolio. But it is evidence, that when Carolyn saw newspaper
accounts about the new regiments organizing she once again approached
the governor directly to put forward her son Charles.
Carolyn Wiley Prince to Governor John
Andrew, March 12, 1863
I had the honor to address you a letter on the 14th of
Jan. 1862 with respect to a commission for my son, C. N. W. Cunningham
of Co. A, 13th Mass and I availed myself of that occasion to Enclose
with it to your Excellency a verbatim copy of a recommendation signed
on the 19th November 1861 by his Co. Capt. in favor of appointing him a
Lieutenant in some Regiment forming, or already formed for the
war. An answer to said letter was sent me a few days afterwards
written & signed by your private secretary Mr. Thomas Drew &c.
The Effect that, “my letter, and the recommendation, should be placed
on file, with those of other meritorious young men, and from which from
time to time, selections should be made to officer Regts” &c.
On the 18th February, I addressed a letter to Mr. Drew
with reference to the same subject, which, I am aware he submitted to
you, as I had the honor to receive an acknowledgement couched in themes
gratifying & satisfactory terms, and which was signed by your
About the first of last August I noticed some
correspondence in the newspapers...[page 1 ends.]
[Reverse side] ...in the desired interview, was
fortunate in raising audience with Mr. Spear, your accomplished
Secretary, to whom she con- - [confessed?] the nature of her business,
and thus ??? have already been laid before you––
Accept, your Excellency my best wishes for your
permanent health–– happiness –– and a continuance in office ––
March 12, 1863.
As Governor Andrew stated above, the problem wasn’t with
his office, but with the town authorities and the policy at the War
Department. Adjutant General William Schouler wrote:
“Hence it was, that, while the Governor
wished to appoint officers from the regiments in the field, the town
authorities, and the recruits themselves, wished to have men
commissioned who had aided in recruiting, and who were personally known
to the recruits themselves. Many letters were written by the
Governor in regard to this matter; but the evil being chronic, and
beyond his power to cure, it continued until the end of the war.”
The following two paragraphs from Adjutant Schouler are
particularly worth noting with regard to the “famous” 13th Regiment:
“In the appointment of field officers for the new
years’ regiments, the Governor determined to appoint men who had seen
service, and who had given unquestionable evidence of bravery and
military capacity. Accordingly, he wrote to Mr. Stanton, at
different times, for the discharge of Captain Bates, of the Twelfth
Regiment, to be commissioned major of the Thirty-third;
Lieutenant-Colonel Batchelder, of the Thirteenth, and others, that they
might be promoted to higher commands in new regiments. It appears
that these applications met with serious opposition from army officers,
as we find on the Governors’ files a letter, dated Aug. 24, addressed
to Mr. Stanton, in which he says, ––
“I am right, no matter what the army officers think or
say, in asking you for some officers to be promoted in the new
regiments. Our old ones have plenty of men well worthy of
promotion; and, when I take out an officer, I merely make it
weaker by one man: a good man below him stands ready to make good
the place vacated. In a new regiment just marching to the field,
a few good fellows, who know what camp life and battles are, are
valuable beyond price to all the rest of the command. Batchelder,
of the Thirteenth, is not needed there. That
regiment could furnish officers for a whole regiment outside of
itself, and be no more weakened than is a bird by laying its
eggs. It is remarkable for its excellence of material… I beg you,
my dear sir, to forgive my explicitness; for I know that if here,
where you could cross-examine me, you would be satisfied I am right.” ”
Eventually Mrs. Carolyn Wiley Prince's persistent
efforts paid off for her son, though like many others, there was
a long period of waiting and uncertainty involved. And it had
more to do with Captain Fox's original endorsement than her
pleadings. In October 1863, Corporal Charles Cunningham was
ordered to Newburn, North Carolina to join the African Brigade
commanded By General Edward Augustus Wild. The brigade included
the 54th & 55th Colored regiments from Massachusetts.
According to his record in the roster, Charles too, eventually gained
Order for Cunningham to report to Newburn
Navy Department. A. G.
Washington October 5th 1863
2. The following named Commissioned Officers and
enlisted men are
hereby detached from their respective commands and will report in
person immediately to Brig. Gen’l Wld, U.S. Vols. at Newbern, North
Corporal Charles N. W. Cunningham, A, 13th Mass. V.
The Quartermaster’s Dept. will furnish the necessary
By Order of the Secretary of
Signed E. D. Townsend
The names of several other men from the regiment who
received promotions can be found listed in the charts on this
page. They include George J. Morse, Henry Harris, James D.
Thurbur, David Hicks, George Worcester, John B. Noyes, Thomas Appleton,
and Sigourney Wales, just to mention a few. The13th MA Regiment
for providing officers to other organizations. Charles E. Davis,
Jr. wrote in July 1911,* on the 50th anniversary of the regiment:
“We had one hundred and twenty enlisted men who
received commissions in other regiments, four of whom were commissioned
in the regular army. One of the number was twice breveted for
Although I don't have specific information on Charles N.
W. Cunningham, his record shows that he was true to his aspirations,
and he did pursue a full time career in the regular Army, rising to the
rank of Captain.
NOTES: *13th Regiment
Association, Circular #24, (50th Anniversary) July 1911; p.
Adjt.-Gen. William Schouler’s book Massachusetts in the Civil War p.
318 - 319; p. 360-363.
Letters from: Executive Correspondence Collection, 13th Regt.;
Massachusetts State Archives.
Return to Table of
Other documents preserved in the
Executive Correspondence scrapbooks, for the 13th Regiment address a
wide variety of soldiers' concerns. Private Sam Jordan's wife
wants him home after their daughter died. Private John Edson
needs a furlough to address mortgage problems that seem to be
threatening his wife and his property. Thomas Restarrick a
recruit in the Summer of '62, fears the terms under which he enlisted
altered by Government authorities. Private Napoleon B. Fellows is
languishing in a hospital and cannot get a discharge because his
officers in the 13th MA won't send on his descriptive list. This
is just a smattering of some of the problems addressed in 1863.
Considering the number of regiments Massachusetts sent to the field,
the Governor's office must have been under a constant deluge of
specific requests from various soldiers serving in the army.
Petition to Governor Andrew on behalf of
Clarinda Maria Jordan
I have a couple of antecdotes about Sam
Jordan, a recruit of '62, who was in Company K. Sergeant Austin
Stearns wrote, that Jordan at Gettysburg, “while retreating at full
run, a reb in hot persuit, had to jump a little brook. The extra
exertion caused his only suspender button to come off and his pants
falling down tripped him and he fell headlong into it. While he was
recovering himself, the reb came and, laughing at Jordan's predicament
said, “I have a good mind to shoot you.” “Show,” said Jordan,
which increased the rebs laughter, and he took Jordan along with
him.” Stearns had a couple of run-ins with Jordan, which he
his memoirs, ––usually over money they loaned back and forth to each
other. Jordan seemed to be a bit callous and
hot-headed. In a more serious vein, his wife writes to the Governor
requesting a discharge from the service for her husband, upon the death
of their only
child, a daughter. The regiment was in winter camp in January
1863, and it is possible Jordan received a brief furlough, but I have
no evidence of the request being granted.
To His Excellency John
Governor of the
State of Massachusetts.
Respectfully represent your petitioner Clarinda
Maria Jordan, (underlined) wife of Samuel
Jordan, a private in Company K, 13th Reg. Mass Vols, that since the
enlistment of her husband, the said Samuel Jordan her only child, a
daughter, had sickened and died, thus leaving her entirely alone, for
your petition, she has neither father or mother, brother or sister, or
child left to her now, and having no other near relative except her
husband, she feels keenly the necessity of his presence with her ––
therefore she respectfully asks that the said Samuel Jordan,
her husband, may be honorably discharged from the service. And,
if you as Governor, cannot grant the discharge for lack of authority,
you petitioner respectfully asks that you will give the petition your
signature, and forward the same to Washington to the proper authority –
– and as in duty bound will we pray.
Shrewsbury, Jan. 16, 1863.
We whose names are underwrtitten, are formally
acquainted with the petitioner and her situation and join in the
Wm K Long
B. E. W. Davis
H. A. Davis
J. H. Johnson
O. G. Davis
E. W. Knowlton
John Edson Needs a
“All the men in my tent have been in
easy circumstances at home, and some are men of a good deal of
refinement. ...A Mr. Edson knows some of my Lowell friends.” So
wrote, Private John B. Noyes on September 11, 1861 at Darnestown,
MD. In February, 1863, John Edson's wife was near panic over some
property problems back home. It was a good time for a soldier to
get a furlough, as the armies were generally at rest for the winter,
but furloughs were hard to come by.
Ansd. [written across the top]
Rock Bottom Feb
1st / 63
Mr. J. Villa Blake
Dear Sir Col
Leonard of the 13th Mass
Volls has not heard from the application for a
furlough for John M. Edson of Co B from the War department. Col
Leonard told my husband that if his excellency the Gov had sent his
letter direct to the war department that he thought he would have had
answer before this time my husband is nearly Crazy about his
family and his property now dear sir I write to you because
the particulars about it. I pray dear sir
that you will use your influence to get his Excellency Gov Andrew to
apply for a furlough for John M Edson of 30 days direct to the war
department and oblige your Humble servant
Mary H. Edson
I took the letter sent by order of His Excellency to the Man that holds
the Mortgauge and there will be nothing done until the first of March
so it will give Mr Edson ample time to get home to secure his property
M H Edson
The letter indicates Colonel Leonard was
supportive of Private Edson's furlough request. For the record,
Edson served out his 3 year term with the regiment and then
re-enlisted. The roster says, “John W. Edson, age, 38;
born, Boston; moulder; mustered in as private,
Company B, July 19, 1861; mustered out August 1, 1864.; reenlisted,
Company K, 4th Mass. Heavy Artillery.”
Private Thomas C.
Restarrick to Governor
Andrew; Bait & Switch?
In this letter Private Thomas
Restarrick, a recruit of '62 asks the governor an important question––
Will the recruits go home
with the regiment in July 1864? It seems this was the
understanding when they signed on to join the old regiments already in
the field during the Summer of '62. But now that they have seen
active service, rumours sprang up that the government would hold
the recruits to a three year term, thus extending their service for
another year. An end to the war was not in sight, and the
government was worried about losing experienced troops with which to
continue the fight. This actually came to pass for some of the
men. So Restarrick confronts Governor Andrew on this matter.
August 19, 1863
His Exelency John A Andrew
pardon me for adressing theas few lines to you one year
ago i enlisted
as a recruit for the thirteenth reg under the impresion that wen the
three years term was up that the reg had to serve i shoud have served
the length for wich i had enlisted or if such had not of been the terms
nearly all the men that joined the reg at that time wod hav gon in to
the new regiments now after serving my country in some of the most
desperat battels we ar informed that it is the intention of the
government to keep the recuts for three years
now sir do not think me desirous of quiting the caus
that i have
undertaken to defend but will it be asking to much if you to ansure
this letter to releive the douts of the few remaining brave men that
came out with me if i mistake not letters wear published writen by you
in the Boston Journal promising them that enlisted in old regiments
that wen the term for wich the regiment enlisted had expierd the
recruts term should expier allso in my own case i think it
will make no diference now but if i had have known it at the time i
shoud have gon in to a new regiment as i left a good situation and a
family depending on me for suport the recruts in old regiments let them
be ever so deserving stand but a poor chance for premotion as long as
their is an old member left
this is as it shoud be god forbid that one jot of the
had earnd honor
shoud be taken from them by the men that have not seen so much hard
service it may be that the eleven months yet remaining for the old
members to serve will place us with the brave comrads that have fell in
their countrys caus but hope is strong in every christian
soldiers heart and i look forward with pleasur to the time that we
shall return to our homes with honor to our country to enjoy the
blessings of peace once more the conscripts for our regiment have
arived i fear thay will be of great trouble to us before thay become
good soldiers fortey of them have deserted allreddey
the best wishes of a soldier of the old bay state for
your care of her
sons and beleve me yours respectfuly
Thomas C Restarrick
Co C 13 Reg
To His Ecxelency
John A. Andrew
Governor of Mass
Thomas Restarrick returned to Boston
with the regiment when its 3 year term expired in July 1864. He
mustered out with the original members of the regiment August
Other recruits were held over, and transferred into the 39th MA,
Private Sam Webster and Sergeant Warren Freeman, even though they too
tried to go home with
the regiment. They were told they could not. Col. Leonard argued
with superior officers on their behalf, but neither was he successful
in obtaining their release. In a huff, Sam Webster vowed he
would do no duty with the
39th, and stormed off to Fredericksburg where he found work at a
hospital. He dodged any chance of being sent back to the
Because he was technically under-age and a drummer, assigned to look
after the wounded men, he could and did get away with this. He
mustered out in February, 1865. Warren Freeman was told if he
could find the proper officer to apply to, he would get his
In September 1864 he found his man, and was honorably discharged from
army. He was told, “they had no right to detain you.”*
*Warren to his father, Sept. 14, 1864;
Letters Between Two Brothers Serving in the War for the Union,
Mr. F. E. Howe to
Governor Andrew, re: N.
B. Fellows, April 9th 1863.
The case of Napoleon B. Fellows, Company
H is perplexing. Like many other members of the regiment confined
to hospitals, physically broken down, and unable to do further duty in
the field, he was supposedly disabled. But he could not get a
discharge. The letters of Albert Liscom detail his own struggle
to get discharged from the service. Liscom's health completely
broke down in August 1862 during General John Pope's arduous Summer
Campaign, so Liscom left the regiment and checked himself into a
hospital. He waited months for a discharge. Much of it
depended on getting his descriptive list sent from his captain in the
regiment, to the doctors at the hospital. Private Fellows claimed
to have been similarly disabled, but he was unable to obtain the papers
he needed for a discharge, or so it appears.
[Printed Letterhead] New
England Soldiers’ Relief Association.
No. 194 BROADWAY
New York, April 9th 1863
In answer to
your inquiry into the case of N.B. Fellows 13th Mass Vols I have to say
that our Hospital Return from Fort Schuyler reports him as returned to
duty January 14th 1863.
Your Obt Serv’t
Frank E. Howe
Mrs. Napoleon B. Fellows to Governor
Andrew, June 1863
Private Fellow's wife addressed the
governor a month later contradicting the claim that Fellows was back
with the regiment.
South Boston June the 1st[?} 1863
I now seat myself to address a few lines to you stating
the condition of my Husban whitch joyn the 13th Regt, Co H, Mass,
Vols, July the 18, Age 39, resadent, Cambridgeport, occupation,
carpenter, he was taken sick in September last with the Heart
disease, he was in the Convalescent Camp at Alexandria, and is still in
the Hospital he has been examined by a different Physician
they all tell him he never can get well his Name has been taken
of for a discharge but his discriptlist is not com so he cannot get
home he suffers great pain I have ben to se Govenor Andrew he wrote on
to New York to F. E. Howe and they did not report the letter no
Farther nor did not try to get his discriptlist for
him it has been nin Months the 9th of this Month since he
has been in the Hospital at New York if you wish to send a letter or
his discriptlist pleas Direct yore letter
Mr. Napoleon B. Fellows
U S Armey Gen Hospital
Ward, C, Sec, C,
Fort Schuyler NY
Capt Havery [John
G. Hovey] is his
yours with respect
Olive S. Fellows
the neglect is at his Regt
not sending his discriptlist
[note on facing page of
at Fort Schuyler
I have no more particulars in the case of
Private N. B. Fellows, but one record, in the Regiment Descriptive List
says, "Napoleon B. Fellows, Recruit, Company H, age 38, Married,
from Cambridge, Enlisted July 25, 1862, Comments:
Dishonorably Discharged, February 13, 1865. Has been a
Deserter." His record in the roster says, "Napoleon B. Fellows;
age, 38; born, Hanover, NH.; carpenter; mustered in as priv., Co. H,
July 25, '62; mustered out, Feb. 13, '65." The record in
the Regiment Descriptive Book says, Age, 38; 5' 11 ¾" Complexion:
Florid; Eyes, Grey; Hair, Black; Born, Hanover, N.H.; Occupation,
Carpenter, Enlisted July 25, '62, Boston, by Captain Hovey for 3
years. Remarks: Sent to
Hospital, Fort Schuyler, N.Y. November 12th, 1862." A later comment
written in pencil says, "Died."
his wife, he went into the hospital with heart disease in
September. The 1862 recruits of which Fellows was among,
arrived to join the regiment in the field
on August 18, 1862 in Culpeper County, VA, near the back slope of Cedar
Mountain. That night the strenuous retreat of Major
General John Pope' army began. Grueling marches on low rations
the regiment for the next two weeks culminating in the disastrous rout
of Pope's army at the battle of 2nd Bull Run, August 30th. The
unarmed recruits were not ordered into the
fight, though some found a weapon and went in anyway. An
engagement at Ox Hill Road followed the rout 2 days later on September
1st. The Thirteenth were not engaged but stood in battle
formation in the rain for hours as reserve troops. On September
4th the exhausted survivors of the regiment arrived at Hall's Hill
outside Washington for a week's rest. This
difficult service conceivably
could have physically broken down the health of N.B. Fellows. He
was older than most soldiers at age
38, and, he was not used to the arduous physical exertions the
remnant of the 13th MA had experienced during the 5 months service
preceding his arrival. A likely scenario is, Napoleon
enlisted, immediately caught sick during the hard campaigning, then
languished in a hospital where he couldn't get a discharge.
I found a few on-line genealogical references to Fellows
and his wife Olive. He supposedly married Olive Butland on
November 20, 1856
in Dayton, Maine. This is strange because Olive signed her middle
initial S. Another reference claims they had 5 children
together. The Mayor's Report for the City of Cambridge, MA, 1852,
lists Napoleon B. Fellows on the roster of Volunteer Fire Department
Hydrant Engine Company No.
4, and records his age at 25 years. This would make him 35 upon
enlistment into the 13th MA in July 1862, but he is listed as age 38 on
all regiment documents. Age 38 correlates with other genealogical
Olive S. Fellows' death certificate is digitized. She died at age
41, May 17, 1875. She is listed as the widowed wife of Napoleon
Fellows. The account that lists the marriage date states that Napoleon
died in 1866, but there is no official scanned document to confirm
this. These biographical tidbits however, do fit the
If the notes are true he died young about age 42 in 1866.
The question remains, was he really a deserter or did he do a little
fighting in the regiment and die young before he could clear his
Return to Table of Contents
The Medical and Surgical History of the
War of the Rebellion, (1861-1865) by U.S. Surgeon-General's
Office contains medical case summaries for
Corporal Gilbert Greenwood, Company D, and Sergeant Benjamin Russell,
Company I. Neither soldier survived. Greenwood was wounded in the hip
by a bullet. Poor Russell was hospitalized with chronic diarrhea.
His doctor, Assistant Surgeon Harrison Allen, couldn't help Russell who
went from the Regimental Hospital October 15 to being admitted to
Lincoln General Hospital, Washington, D.C. October 19. He died 6
days later on October 25, 1863. Dr. Allen performed an autopsy on
Russell, which means he pulled out all his internal organs;
weighed and examined them, and put it all in a report. On
September 14, 1864, Dr. Allen presented to the Pathological Society of
Philadelphia a brief “Synopsis of Autopsies made at Lincoln General
Hospital,” Its hoped his research was able to benefit future
patients. I'm going to pass over Dr. Allen's grizzly autopsy and
present the brief case history of Corporal Greenwood.
Likewise his Doctor, William Thomson was
unable to save Greenwood's life and he died a painful death. But
the post-mortem examination Thomson performed did lead to him making a
new suggested surgical treatment for future cases with similar wounds.
Death of Corporal Gilbert Greenwood,
Gilbert Greenwood, Co. D, 13th Massachusetts Volunteers, was struck on
May 3d, 1863, at the battle of Chancellorsville, by a bullet, which
entered near the right trochanter. He was admitted to
Douglas Hospital on May 8th, when an examination, under anaesthetic,
revealed an abrasion of the upper part of the femur, but did not lead
to the discovery of the ball. On May 12th a deep-seated and
extensive abscess existed in the gluteal region, attended by great
constitutional disturbance, mental irritability, and pain on pressure
or motion of the hip-joint.
On May 16th, death took place; and at the post mortem
there was found a comminution of the head of the femur, [thigh bone]
with penetration of the acetabulum by a bullet, which was removed from
the pelvic cavity. Extensive erysipelatous [bacterial]
inflammation and diffuse suppuration [secretion] were found in the
gluteal region. The excision of this joint, with its free
incision at the primary stage, might have given to this case a
Dr. Thomson concludes after examining some other like
“From a study of these cases, and others similar in
character it would appear that the fatal terminations, under expectant
treatment are due to the following causes: the joint becomes
inflamed primarily or secondarily; the capsule becomes distended by the
products of inflammation, gives way, and the contents escape into the
neighboring parts, and five rise to those extensive dissecting
abscesses which are found at the autopsies, and which account so
entirely for the fatal results. If these view should be accepted,
a full and free incision into the joint, at an early period, would be
the proper surgical procedure, and this is accomplished by its
...I must thank you for showing to me one case of
recovery without operation, in the person of an officer of rank,
whom I saw at the Museum. [General James C. Strong.] His right
hip-joint had been traverse by a ball antero-posteriorly, which, at its
exit, had caused an extensive laceration of the soft pats. It
would seem that this was, in effect, a primary excision, accomplished
by the missile, and its good result should encourage surgeons to accept
it as a precedent for an early operation.
William Thomson, M.D.
Private Philon C. Whidden
I was fortunate to find the medical case
of Philon Whidden, Co. B, printed in the Medical & Surgical
History of the War of the Rebellion, (1861-1865); Volume 3;
Surgeon-General's Office, 1870-1888; [Chapter X, p. 20.] It
the nasty leg wound he received at the Battle of Antietam, and his
subsequent recovery. His record states he became an Assistant
Surgeon in the U.S. Navy after he left the 13th MA, so his recovery
from the leg wound must have been pretty good, considering 4 of 6
examining surgeons recommended amputation at the time he received
it. Or perhaps, just the grizzly detail of the wound sounds much
worse than it actually was? The report is written in medical
jargon so its difficult to follow, yet fascinating to read.
Case 33.––Private P. C.
Whidden, Co. B, 13th Massachusetts, aged 22 years, was wounded at
Antietam, September 17, 1862, and entered the Mason Hospital, Boston,
January 22, 1863. Acting Assistant Surgeon W. E. Townsend noted:
“Shot wound of left leg. Patient returned to duty November
1, 1863.” The following detailed account of his injury and its
result was forwarded by the man in July, 1866, through Dr. H. I.
Bowditch, of Boston:
“Was struck by a piece of shell on the
posterior aspect of the left leg, causing extensive laceration and loss
of the soft tissues, without injury to the bone. The wound
extended from just above the ankle joint about eight inches up the back
of the leg, from which, within these bounds, the soft parts,
integuments, tendons, muscles, both arteries, and the posterior tibial
nerve were entirely carried away, exposing the bones through nearly the
whole length of the wound.
On the front of the leg, corresponding
to the middle of the wound, but about an inch of sound skin was
left. A rounded flap, about an inch and a half long, containing the
lower portion of the tendo-achilles, was torn up and laid back over
heel. The upper part of the wound was ragged and contused, and
the middle portion cleanly cut away. There was but little
haemorrhage. He walked with great difficulty to the rear, and was
then carried to a house a short distance from the field, where a
consultation as to the propriety of amputaton was held, six surgeons
being present. Four decided that amputation was necessary to preserve
life; one assented to this under existing circumstances, but thought
that under more favorable conditions there was a possibility of
recovery without the operation; the other that amputation was was
uncalled for. The patient decided to retain the limb.
wound was a dressed with lint and was not disturbed for five
days. On the fifth day, he was carried in an ambulance a distance
of twelve miles to the hospital in Hagerstown. Upon examination
the wound was suppurating profusely and full of maggots, and it was
dressed with yeast poetic and powdered charcoal. It was then
determined to amputate, but the operation was postponed for three days,
and nourishing diet and stimulants were ordered. On the fourth
day an examination preliminary to the operation was made, when healthy
granulations appeared along the edges of the bones, and the operation
was abandoned. The patient was then carried to a private house,
where he received proper nourishment and good nursing, and at the end
of a month, no bleeding having at any time occurred, went to his home
Granulations had been going on rapidly; the wound had
been filling up without a sign of inflammation, and a pellicle was
spreading out from the sound skin all around the borders of the
wound. After the journey the parts became irritated and inflamed,
and the process of cicatrization went on much more slowly. By the
first of March following the parts are perfectly healed, and the
patient walked about with the aid of a cane. But the pellicle
covering the surface being excessively thin was easily abraded, and the
newly formed tissues possessing but little vitality, it healed slowly,
new portions being rubbed off before the old were renewed, so that at
no time since the wound was first closed has it been entirely free from
slight superficial ulceration.
At the present time the gap is partially
filled up with cicatricial tissue, which has undergone contraction,
making the wound appear much smaller than it originally was. It
is covered with a thin layer of epithelium which constantly
desquamates. The flap torn up and laid over the heel, as referred
to above, instead of presenting the narrow outline on the
tends-achilles, has, in healing, become a thick flabby mass beneath the
cicatrix, and after long walking becomes oedematous. The length
of the cicatrix from top to bottom, on each side of the flap, is seven
inches in the median line; from the top of the cicatrix to the
the flap five inches; across the widest part at top and bottom, three
and a half inches; in the middle, the narrowest part, three
inches. Four inches and a half above the malleoli the leg
measures in circumference six and a half inches; the sound leg at the
corresponding part, nine inches. The integument [a tough outer
layer] on the front of
the leg, at its narrowest part, is three and a half inches in
breadth. The muscles of the calf contract but exert no influence
over the foot, the tendons being absent, and extension cannot be
performed, but the foot drops with its own weight. Owing to
contraction of the cicatrix the foot can be flexed to but little less
than right angle with the leg. Sensation, which was lost in the
external borer of the foot and heel, has gradually returned.
There is slight obstruction to the circulation from the slow return of
venous [dark red] blood. The patient walks with ease,
unaided by a cane, and
without the slightest perceptible limp.”
The report of the
Adjutant General of Massachusetts shows that Private Whidden was
discharged from service, by order of the War Department, December 11,
1863. He is not a pensioner.
In extensive lacerations of the soft tissues of the
thigh and leg by shell fragments, or other large projectiles, it was
often difficult to make out the exact extent of the injuries inflicted,
and the field returns of the surgeons who examined the primary wounds,
and the later reports of the hospital surgeons and person examiners
were often, of necessity, wanting in precision regarding such lesions.
Return to Top of Page
Moments of Frank A. Gould &
George E. Sprague
George E. Sprague and Francis (Frank) Gould, both in
Company K, 13th MA, died
together at the College Church Hospital on Chambersburg Street in
Gettysburg. Their last moments were recorded by Martha Ehler, a
volunteer nurse with the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster, who came with
to Gettysburg after the great battle, to see what good they could do
for the wounded soldiers.
“Martha was the daughter of a wealthy
and prominent Lancaster, PA merchant, George Calder Esq. and his wife,
Martha Leland Calder, who claimed to have shaken hands with six
Presidents. She had lived a comfortable, upper class existence at
least up to the time of her marriage in 1857 when she married Amandus
Ehler, a bookkeeper in one of her father's business offices. The
couple had a son, Charles Leland Ehrler, who was born in 1858. At
the time of the Battle of Gettysburg, Martha was a thirty three year
old wife and the mother of a five year old, hardly the person one would
expect to leave home for five weeks to care for wounded soldiers.
Her mother, however, as one of the founding members of the Patriot
Daughters of Lancaster, undoubtedly encouraged her daughter's work
She ended up nursing at the College Church where the
wounded soldiers of the 13th MA were brought during the first day’s
battle. After her several weeks of nursing she authored a
pamphlet to raise money for the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster.
In her narrative, without naming them, she tells in great detail the
last moments of 13th MA soldiers Francis A. Gould and George E.
Sprague. The key to their identification is the anniversary date
of their enlistment, July 16, mentioned in Martha’s memoir, and the
fact that Gould and Sprague are in the same company of the regiment,
Company K, and that their wounds listed in all the rosters are exactly
as Martha describes them in her story. And the fact that they died
right after one another as Martha says in her account. In
addition, Frank was survived by his
mother, and Sprague by his wife and children, also mentioned in
Martha’s narrative. There are no other regiments in John C.
Robinson’s Division who were mustered into Federal service on July
16. Gould’s death is recorded officially as July 14, and Sprague
on July 15, but Martha mentions the 16th specifically in her
remembrance. It is likely she remembered the significance of the
16th and mistakingly recorded the deaths on that day. Although
this is conjecture, there are too many similarities in Martha's account
with the records of Gould and Sprague to conclude otherwise.
records follow Martha's narrative.
HOSPITAL SCENES AFTER THE
BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 2nd Division 1st Corps, by Martha Ehler.
We had until now, formed no systematic plan of
All of us agreed that it would be better, if possible, to take the
entire charge of one Hospital, and as all the Church Hospitals were
sadly in want of care, our only difficulty was to decide which should
fall to our lot. — Providence decided the point for us, for the only
rooms we could obtain, were directly opposite Christ Church, the
College Church, which had been occupied since the first day’s battle,
by the 1st Corps, 2nd Division, (Gen. Reynolds’s men,) designated by
white lozenge on a red flag.
After a good night’s rest, we felt prepared to enter
upon our duties. Mr. Heinitsh kindly secured our rooms, procured
us a stove, assisted in our moving, and then took us over and
introduced us to the surgeon in charge. We did not think he gave
us a warm reception; perhaps having a prejudice against lady nurses,
and afterwards (when by his courtesy and kindness he atoned for
whatever coolness he might have shown at first,) we used laughingly to
tell him, that he looked at us as though we were a set of
adventurers. All of which he earnestly disclaimed.
The suit of rooms which we now occupied, were very
convenient, but the entrance was by no means imposing; a long
alley led to them, as they were in the back building of the
house, the front being used as a store. Our accommodations
embraced three rooms, a store room, a dining room, and kitchen;
as soon as we were settled, we had a board placed over the entrance on
which was written in large letters, in chalk: “Patriot Daughters
of Lancaster,” and our work commenced. We had by tacit agreement,
arranged that some of us should cook, and prepare delicacies for the
sick, while the rest should undertake the nursing. I was one of
those upon whom the latter duty devolved. With what trepidation I
crossed the street, for the first time, to enter the scene of so much
sorrow and anguish, may be more easily imagined than described.
Had I stopped one moment to think, my courage would have failed, I
would have turned back; but I did not. I walked up to the
Hospital steward, and told him that it was probable that we should be
associated together in our duties for some weeks, and asked him what
his patients most needed; his reply, was “Everything. These men
are now lying, with the exception of having their wounds
dressed, as they were brought in from the battle-field.” Some
were on a little straw, while most of them had nothing between
them and the hard boards, but their old thin, war-worn blankets;
more fortunate ones with their knapsacks under their heads. And when
you think that they were, almost without exception, serious amputation
cases, what must have been their sufferings! I went back to the
rooms, and we all commenced assorting the pillows, shirts, sheets,
&c., sending at the same time to the Commissary for some bed-sacks,
which the men attendants filled with straw.
When our patients were washed and dressed, and placed in
their new beds, with a fresh white pillow under their heads, and a
sheet thrown over them, they looked their gratitude, which was more
eloquent than words. One of us handed them each a handkerchief
wet with cologne, and we left them to make arrangements for their
supper. Already was it in progress; the tea was already
the buttered toast smoking on the stove, and with some nice jelly,
sent by those at home, the supper was complete; we took it over
gave it to each. Many having lost their right arm, had to be
while some, tempting though the meal was, were too sick to partake of
it; all however, even those suffering worst, thanked us over and
again, and could scarcely be made to believe that we were to remain
some weeks here, and that they were to be our special care. They
all said that they had never met with such kindness, and that that meal
had been the first glimpse of home life they had enjoyed since they
entered the service two years ago. Thus ended our first day’s
experience in our new and trying vocation; it was, however simply
beginning; we had only cared for those in the basement of the
(forty in number,) while above, were a hundred more waiting for our
services on the morrow.
Photo: Church volunteer Tom
Laser stands by a window on the lower floor of Christ Church where
Martha Ehler spent her first day as a nurse. It is believed this
was the window by the operating table, out of which the severed limbs
of the unfortunate amputees were tossed.
The next morning found us early at our post, for it was
no small affair, inexperienced as we then were, to have so large a
breakfast ready at seven o'clock (the Hospital hour); but it was
and after it was over, and the very sick ones supplied with lighter
nourishment, we felt as though we must go up stairs. The scenes
of the day before, had somewhat prepared us; but then the number was
small, while here it was overwhelming; still, the same kind
were rendered to all, and by the time they were made comfortable,
was ready, of which the whole Hospital partook.
Could those at
home, who contribute so kindly to our stores, have witnessed the change
in the appearance of these poor wounded sufferers, and have seen their
gratitude, I think it would have repaid them for all the sacrifices
in their behalf. Every thing they sent was acceptable, and as
day after day passed, and our stores, though sometimes low, never
failed, we prayed that God might shower his blessings upon them, and
that they might feel that better than gold
is the consciousness
of doing good.
And now as we are fairly started, perhaps it will
interest some to know of what our bill of fare consisted; in the
morning, of tea and toast, with soft-boiled eggs; dinner, chicken
mutton soup; (the chicken and mutton were given to the convalescent,
the soup to those who were very sick,) always two vegetables, and
sometimes a simple pudding; for supper, tea, with stewed
and buns. It was very simple; but when you think that it
always nicely prepared, and enough provided for a hundred and fifty
men; that our cooking apparatus was very imperfect and
you may form some idea of the amount of labor performed over a blazing
wood fire in the middle of July. Besides this, our own meals were
to be cooked, and we rarely seated ourselves without some one from
home partaking of our hospitality who could not find accommodations
elsewhere. Sometimes it was a clergyman, ministering to the
wounded; at others, those who had sons in the battle; and
as they were
under the circumstances, thrown on our charity, we could not do less
than care for them; then again were those who came over with the
stores; so all together, they kept us employed. When not
at the hospital, (that being our first duty,) we tried to do the best
could for all, and if there were any who thought us wanting in
hospitality, we trust that they will recollect that we were the
dispensers of others’ bounties.
The next day was Sunday, and excessively hot, and it
required all who could be spared from the rooms, at the hospital.
Innumerable flies hovered round the patients, who, in many instances,
were too weak to brush them off; fans were kept in constant
requisition, and for hours at a time did we stand fanning all this
long, hot, summer day. In the morning we had a simple service by
Professor Baugher, during which, though it
lasted but a short time,
five died. After tea was over, and the arrangements made for the
night, we remained at the urgent request of our patients, and sang some
hymns, in which they generally joined. I have listened to the
music of professed singers, accompanied by the deep-toned note of the
swelling organ, and to the more simple songs of praise in our own
churches, but never did I hear anything like the sad pathos of the
voices of these poor wounded men, as they sang, “There is rest for the
weary,” or “There is a land of pure delight,” and before the next
Sabbath evening many had gone; I trust to “where saints immortal
Pictured right, Rev. Dr. Henry L. Baugher, President
of the Gettysburg College.
Until now, our attentions had been general through the
Hospital, but individual cases began to claim our care, and occupy most
of our time. It seemed as though the crisis of the wounds had
arrived and the majority were in a critical state. Since
Saturday, I had given all my time, to the care of a young man from the
northwestern part of the State, who had five terrible wounds, either of
which, the surgeon said, might prove fatal. I
had noticed his expression of agony in passing, and at last I heard him
say to the attendant, “Ask that lady to come to me.” I went
immediately; he told me that he knew he was going to die;
that for two
long nights he had laid there alone thinking of his state; he
was a great sinner, he said, but he trusted, that, for Christ’s sake,
might be forgiven. He had an old mother; would I
her? I did, while he dictated the words. I am sorry I did
not keep a copy of the letter, so full was it of love and
patriotism. Love for his old home, love for his mother, love for
his country, (for which he said he gloried in dying,) and love
Savior, who had suffered and died to redeem him. He did not fear
to die, he said, but the thought of dying alone, with no one to care
for him, had added to his agony; but now, if I would stay with
until all was over, he could patiently await the summons. I
promised him I would, and though he lingered all day, I did not leave
him until nearly dark, when, with a short prayer commending his soul to
God, he passed from time into eternity.
The next morning on going over to the hospital, I
noticed a nice looking old lady seated on the church steps; it
mother. She came the night before, but too late, and though they
had tried to persuade her to go away and wait until morning, it had
been impossible to move her, and there she sat, through all the quiet
watches of the night. I took her to the spot in the church where
her son died, gave his parting words, walked down in the fresh morning
air to the graveyard, and said all I could to console her.
I never met with more exalted Christian piety and resignation.
One son lay before her a corpse, another was in Libby Prison, and a
third wounded in one of the corps’ hospitals; she hoped that God
save our country, and look with pity on the many sorrowing hearts.
Hear, what a Northern mother
Wildly waving a banner red,
As her country’s hosts went trailing past,
With rolling drum and trumpet blast.
“Come forth my sons, come
join the band
Who battle for our native land;
Come, leave the plough, come grasp the sword;“
Three noble youths came at her word.
The first has sunk to his
The second rots in a dungeon deep;
The youngest, wounded, writhes in pain,––
Ah! he will never walk again.
“What recks it,” said the
“Their name and mine shall live for aye:
They fought for freedom and for right,
And God accepts my widow’s mite.”
We were peculiarly favored in the choice of a hospital,
(little as we had to do with its selection,) for our patients
superior in refinement to many others. The majority of them were
from New England; all of them had enjoyed the benefits of a good
education. Most of them had been blessed with faithful, pious
mothers, who had from childhood impressed upon them the value and
importance of religion, and during their long term of service had,
through their correspondence, kept alive the flame of piety within
their hearts, and urged them to abide faithful to the God of their
fathers. And when, before the last summons came to call them to
their final home, we ministered to them, our painful duties were
lightened by the assurance that religion was no new thing to most of
them; and that, in their Northern homes, unceasingly ascended
these dear, dying ones, prayers for their everlasting salvation.
Before leaving home, I had been informed, by one who
ought to know better, that our army was made up of “foreign
adventurers,” “Germans and Irish,” “soldiers of fortune,”
hirelings,” whilst in the Southern army were found all the chivalry and
magnanimity of the nation. Never were expressions more foul or
malignant, or slanders more base and cruel. We are grateful that the
qualifications which constitute good soldiers and noble men, are not
confined to one nation, and that the Germans, Irish and English, who
have made this free country the land of their adoption, appreciate
fully its many benefits, and fight heroically for our cause; and
it is difficult to discriminate where all are so brave, yet the bravest
was a young Englishman, the color bearer of a New York regiment.
He came to this country an orphan boy, was educated in our free
schools, found friends who assisted him, had become prosperous in
business, and when this foul rebellion endangered the liberties of our
land, and the bells everywhere were calling together the sons of the
Republic, he felt that for a country which had afforded him home and
happiness, it was an honor and a privilege to suffer and die. He
volunteered with the hundreds of thousands of freemen, and carried the
colors of his regiment through all the battles fought by the Army of
the Potomac, until now, unhurt. All this he told me in broken
sentences, and added that “there was one on whom all his hopes
who made life precious and desirable to him,” and much more of a
similar import, too sacred to relate.
To her I wrote a letter, telling of his sad state, how
he had fallen, bleeding and wounded; and at his request, added, that
though he had lost his leg, he was proud to tell her he had saved the
regimental colors, and his own life, too, was still spared him, which
only made valuable by thoughts of her. This was surely enough to
make any true woman feel proud that over so noble a heart she alone
held sway. His wound was doing remarkably well, and every day,
while attending to his wants, I would ask him pleasantly about the
answer to our letter, remarking, that perhaps it was too full of sweet
words to be seen by a stranger.
At last I found that all my cheerful words failed to
rouse him from the despondent mood into which he had fallen, and I
discovered his great anxiety at not receiving an answer to his
letter. I begged him to be patient, and explained that the mail
had been interrupted by the recent raid; all of which failed to
reassure him; and when going to him the next morning, I saw lying
beside him on his pillow a letter, directed by a lady’s delicate
felt all would be well. Yes, the letter was delicately directed,
delicately written, and delicately worded — but its meaning was not to
be misunderstood. It was a cool, calm regret that she could no
be his; to which was added the fear that the loss of his limb
affect his prospects in life. He handed me the letter to read,
with a look of fixed despair — buried his head in the pillow, and wept
like a child. To him she had been the embodiment of all that was
true and lovely; and while others had mothers, sisters and
was his all. The blow had been sudden, but sure. When he
looked up again, his face bore the pallor of marble and I saw there was
no hope. All day long, we gave him stimulants, and tried by
words of sympathy to rouse him, but in vain; he lingered two
the silver cord was loosed, and the golden bowl broken. He died,
and his last words were “tell her I forgive her.”
Already had the different hospitals heard of our rooms,
and were sending to us for supplies, and though we could not leave
those under our care for any length of time, yet we gave to all who
…We labored faithfully among our patients, but many were
daily dying; dying with longing thoughts of home and friends —
whom they would never see again. Calmness and resignation
distinguished them in their intense sufferings; for, to their
it said, with severe, and oftentimes fatal wounds, they
their complaints, and patiently awaited the attentions of the
groans and murmurs were rarely heard. The hospital stewards in
charge were kind and attentive, and the male nurses (who were paroled
prisoners) were beyond all praise, faithful to their trust; they
waited upon their fellow-soldiers with the greatest care and patience,
giving them their medicine, washing and dressing them, and watching
them with the tenderness of a mother, and by their kind attentions won
not only our gratitude, but inspired us to follow their good example,
and do everything in our power to add to the comfort of these suffering
The days were passing slowly by, and our patients grew
gradually fewer. Death had been busy among them, and though our
duties were severe, yet we often felt the force of the remark made to
us on the day of our arrival by one who had ample opportunities for
knowing, (Mr. S. J. Harris,) “that however arduous our duties
might be, we
would scarcely think of them in the great strain upon our nerves and
sympathies,” and so it proved.
I recollect particularly being called about this time to
minister to the wants of a young New England soldier; [Frank
pictured––B.F.] I had taken care
of him in a general way with the others, but did not know of his
dangerous condition until one of his friends called my attention to
him. I saw that he was very low, and he must have noticed by the
expression of my face, that I regarded his case as hopeless. As
soon as I came to him he said, “Write your name on this piece of paper
for me, and if I live I want it, if I die, send it to my mother, and
tell her that though far away in Pennsylvania, I have found those who
have been as kind to me as sister or mother.” “And, now,” said
he, in the most solemn and searching manner, “must I die?”
him I feared it must be so.
“Do not fear,” he exclaimed, “to
tell me the truth, for when I entered the army, I made up my mind that
a man was not worthy to live, who for fear of death, shuns his
country’s cause. I am willing to die, and join the ranks of those
who have already gone, for it is glorious to die for one’s
country.” He said he knew in whom he trusted; that religion
no new thing to him; he had a good, praying mother, and though
temptations were great in the army, yet, for her sake, he had tried to
do right. He then uttered a prayer for the loved ones at home,
for his comrades who stood around, and invoked God’s blessing on those
who ministered to him. For some time he was quiet, and after having
taken some nourishment, he asked me what day of the month it was?
I told him the 16th of July.
“Then,” said he, “it is two years
since I enlisted, and one year from to-day my term of service will
expire,” adding, in the most submissive manner, “and sooner, if
the Lord’s will.” After a short interval he said, “See that I am
decently buried; and may God, for Christ’s sake, have mercy on us
The light fled from his eye, the color from his cheeks,
then his parched lips only uttered confused sounds.
bathed in tears, stood the companions of many long marches, and
hard-fought battles, and by his side his nearest friend, [George E.
Sprague––B.F.] who had shared his
tent since the commencement of the war. He was shot through the
lungs, and lay but a short distance from him; he had scarcely
to move since he was brought in from the battle-field, yet hearing his
friend was dying, he insisted on going to him. I remonstrated,
but to no purpose, and I was not surprised, when, after performing the
last sad offices for his friend, I was sent for to attend to him.
returning to his bed he had immediately had a hemorrhage, and in about
two hours he, too, was a corpse. Calmly he fell asleep, leaving
kind messages for his wife and children at home. Thus in life,
these two noble men had been devoted friends, and in death they were
I kept my promise, and saw them properly
buried. Hitherto those who died, had been wrapped in their
war-worn blankets, but their companions made them each rude coffins,
and a sad and serious gathering followed them to their last
The relentless grave has closed over them, and the grass now waves
over their resting place; and when in after days we visited the
we placed on each a few summer flowers.
Biographical Information on Frank Gould
FRANCIS A. GOULD,
Son of James E, and Harriet
Gould, was born in Lancaster, July 28, 1841; enlisted May 7th, 1861,
and was mustered into the U. S. Service July 16th, 1861, as private in
Company K, 13th Regiment Mass. Volunteers, to serve three years.
He was in the skirmishes at
Harper's Ferry, September 2d, Bolivar Heights, October 16th, and
Falling Waters in 1861. He was under fire at Cedar Mountain Va.,
August 9th, and Rappahannock Station August 23d, 1862; at the battles
of Thoroughfare Gap on the 28th, second Bull Run August 29th and 30th,
Chantilly September 1st, Antietam Md., September 17th, Fredericksburg,
Va., December 13th, 1862; Deep Run, Apil 30th, 1863;
May 3d, 4th and 5th; at Gettysburg Pa., July 1st, he was wounded
died July 14th, 1863. In this day's battle the regiment lost one
hundred and eighty nine in killed, wounded and missing. His
remains were brought to Southboro', and buried.#2
Information on George E.
Record from the Roster:
GEORGE E. SPRAGUE; age, 27; born,
shoemaker; mustered in as priv., Co. K, July 16, '61; died of wounds
received at Gettysburg, July 15, '63.
Information from George's son Frederick's Pension File:
When George E. Sprague died July
15, 1863, he
left his 22 year old wife a widow with a 3 year old toddler.
had married 18 year old Mary L. Wheeler, of Grafton, MA on January
1859. Her parents were Caleb B. Wheeler, and Lucy M. Wheeler of
Grafton. William G. Scandlin, a Unitarian minister, conducted
the marriage ceremony. A son, Frederick L. Sprague was born to
couple on November 25th 1859. Mary became a widow at age
22, with a 3 year old son. She applied for, and was
granted a widow’s pension. On July 14, 1862, Congress
bill granting pensions to soldiers’ widows and orphans under the
16. Mary collected $8.00 a month retro-actively dated from July
15, 1863, and continued the claim for a year, up until July 7,
1864. At that time she
decided to re-marry 20 year old Charles E. Freeman, of
Grafton. Charles was also a
shoemaker, like her first husband George. It was the 2 second
marriage for the 23 year old widow, and the
1st marriage for her new husband Charles. Meanwhile a legal
guardian was placed over her son, young Frederick. In August,
1866, George H. Estabrook, of Worcester, then 45 years of age, was
appointed Frederick's guardian, and he
applied for a pension to aid with the boy's support. The
Government approved Estabrook's application, so he also received $8.00
month, retroactive to date, July 9, 1864. He would receive
payment until Frederick turned age 16 on November 25, 1875.
Congress increased the payment of pensions to widows and orphans by an
additional $2.00 on July 25, 1866. Frederick Sprague’s
guardian continued to receive the financial support up until his 16th
birthday in November 1875. Some on-line sources claim Frederick
lived into the 1930’s.
#1. “A Nurses
Story”, by Eileen Hoover, from “A
Sanctuary for the Wounded, Christ Lutheran Church”, pp.
Record of the Soldiers of Southborough During The Rebellion,
Marlboro, p. 31; 1867.
Return to Top of Page
of Shrewsbury, Michael Laughlin, & The
After Michael Laughlin died October 8, 1863* from
he received at Gettysburg, his widowed mother Margaret Mitchell
Laughlin, tried to bring
his remains home to Shrewsbury, MA for burial. Unfortunately she
came up against strict protocols put in place by Pennsylvania State
Agent David Wills, which were put in place in order to establish the
new National Cemetery at
Gettysburg. Margaret was a poor woman, but she had the support of
the Town Selectmen and her community who lobbied Governor John Andrew's
office on her behalf. The attempt failed, even with Governor
Andrew of Massachusetts trying to help. A few documents in
the Executive Correspondence collection of the MA Archives tell part of
the story; about Margaret, and the people who tried to help her.
*He is alternately listed as O'Laughlin,
but correspondence regarding his military service always uses the name
Laughlin. Same for his mother. Some documents state his
date of death as
Shrewsbury's Contribution of Men to the
The town of Shrewsbury did not raise a rifle company of
its own for the war effort like most of the towns that surrounded
Instead, the willing volunteers from Shrewsbury trickled into other
militia rifle companies that were being organized in neighboring towns,
––largely in Worcester
County. Shrewsbury sent 147 volunteers into the service, 20 above
its State quota, ––and none of them were drafted. The first 9
recruits went into the Westboro' Rifle Company which was mustered into
Federal Service as Company K,
of the 13th MA. Another 8 recruits
joined Company K, during the summer of
these 17 men, 8 died in the service,** of which Michael Laughlin was
**Two of them died while serving in units
after being discharged from the 13th MA.
The Town of Shrewsbury, post war.
Private Michael Laughlin
Michael Laughlin [sometimes listed as O'Laughlin] was
one of the original members of Company K. He was wounded at
Gettysburg, July 1st, 1863, and taken to the College Church in town,
which was designated a hospital for the 2nd Division of the 1st Corps.
The town soon filled with enemy troops, and all those in the hospital
were designated Prisoners of War. Austin Stearns was captured in
trying to get
Union lines on Cemetery Hill, so he claimed the right of being wounded
and hung out at the church. He recalled seeing Mike Laughlin
and others inside.
“I then went into the church to see the boys. I
found there in addition to [Harvey] Ross, Serg’t. M. H. Walker wounded
in foot, Privates G. E. Sprague in chest, M. O’Laughlin in knee, Frank
Gould in hip and back, Horatio Cutting in head, Albion Vining in
foot. Cutting, Gould, O’Laughlin, and Sprague all died in a few
days. All the boys were in as good spirits as could be expected,
and were all pleased to know that the old flag was still in
sight. With the exception of Ross they were all in the same room,
the vestibule of the church.”#1
“…In the afternoon while in the church with the boys,
the surgeons came around to make an examination of Mike O’Laughlin’s
wound; he was shot through the knee, and the bone was badly
smashed. They gave it a pretty thorough looking over, and
concluded it must be taken off. Mike cried like a baby when the
surgeon made their decision, and plead his poverty and an aged Mother
that was dependent on him as a reason why he could not part [with]
it. I pittied him, as did all the surgeons, and they promised to
wait a few days before taking it off, but poor Mike, he lost his limb
and his life as well.”#2
Laughlin died October 8th, (some records say November
8th, 1863), and his mother
Margaret, represented by
the town of Shrewsbury Selectmen, tried to bring the body home for
burial. But there was a problem. By the time Margaret
applied to retrieve the body, rules established out of practical
necessity prevented its removal from the new National Cemetery
Here is how the story unfolded.
Christ Lutheran Church
Gettysburg Immediately After the Battle
As soon as the armies departed Gettysburg, outsiders
flocked to the
town in great numbers. Most seemed to be curiosity seekers, who
wanted to view the scenes of a momentous battle. Others came to
scavenge for souvenirs, or something discarded that might be of
practical use. Others came seeking friends or relatives hurt or
killed in the fight. Some came to help like the Patriot Daughters
of Lancaster. The atmosphere in town was abominable. The air was
putrid, and the battleground
hideous; it still being littered with debris, unburied
Confederate soldiers, and rotting carcasses of dead
An description of the pervading atmosphere is given by
Colonel Alfred Brunson McCalmont of the 142nd PA Vols, who marched his
men down the Emmitsburg road, on July 6th.
“the ground was still marked with newly made graves,
with the bloated and disgusting bodies of horses with their mouths open
and eye-balls protruding. Many human bodies were still unburied and the
faces were black and the teeth grinning horribly. The trees were
shattered by shot and shell. Wheat fields were trodden
down. War had done its work; and the air was terribly offensive
with the odor of thousands of rotting bodies. It was a relief to
reach the outside of the terrible scene, to come again among the
beautiful farms, and through fields of ripe grain.”#3
A thorough description of the aftermath of the battle,
complete with numerous eye witness accounts, is detailed in Gregory
Coco’s work, Strange
and Blighted Land, Thomas Publications, 1995. It is one
of my favorite books about the war, because it deals with the ugly and
tragic realities of war, rather than stories of
pageantry, heroism, and glory, which so easily capture our
attention. (Both viewpoints are necessary for a balanced
appreciation of events.)
As the July days passed, more serious visitors came to
Gettysburg, intent on finding their loved ones, and if killed, to
arrange for a proper burial or, to make arrangements for the bodies to
be shipped home for a proper burial. But with so many dead, (3,
155 Union dead
officially recorded and another 14,529 wounded or mortally
was evident something needed to be done to accomodate the thousands of
dead bodies scattered about the various farms in hastily made graves.#4
By mid July the people of Gettysburg were petitioning PA
Governor Andrew G. Curtin to create a central cemetery for Pennsylvania
soldiers killed in action, or who died of wounds. An 1862
law required the State to tend to the war wounded and dead.
“By then the removals of soldier remains had steadily
progressed for two weeks as family members of the slain sought to bring
the men home to be reinterred in regional plots and cemeteries.”
There were worries “over the chance of various health related
problems arising…” #5
Governor Curtin toured the battlefield on July
Besides the petitions he received, which called for a central burying
ground, other local citizens and State
agents, who were dealing with the dead and wounded, arrived at the same
Proposals for a New National Cemetery
New York State Relief agent Theodore Dimone, an ex-army
surgeon, proposed the idea of a “central national cemetery” on the
battlefield, to other interested State Agents, at a meeting held at
the office of Gettysburg Attorney David Wills. The plan called
for the remains of the Union dead, to
be carefully removed from their battle-field graves, and be brought to
burying ground, where the new burials would be arranged by regiment and
State. It was proposed this action should be done with the joint
the various Northern states involved.
Gettysburg Attorney David Wills, age 32, (pictured) was
Pennsylvania State agent responsible for collecting Union dead from
battle-field graves, and having the bodies sent home for burial if
representatives of the family
requested it. Wills
liked the idea of a central burying ground arranged by states, and
wrote to Governor Curtin about it on July
24. Curtin also liked and supported the idea. Letters were
written to the different State authorities that would be involved, and
the plan was off and
A logical place for the new National Soldiers' cemetery
located, was at Evergreen
Cemetery, which already existed in a sutiable location, on a key part
of the Union lines during
the battle. And so
thought, attorney David McConaughy, President of the Board of Directors
caretaker, who occupied the battle scarred Cemetery Gate House, a
familiar and well recognized landmark of the battle, had already
arranged for the burial of 104 bodies by July 25. On that date,
McConaughy wrote Governor Curtin about expanding Evergreen to
accomodate the burial of the Union dead killed at Gettysburg.
Part of his
idea was for the
Commonwealth to pay for the burials. McConaughy was already
agreements to purchase from his land-owning neighbors, the
grounds surrounding the cemetery.
In Boston, Mayor Fred Lincoln was urging the city
to buy up lots at Evergreen for the exclusive burial of Boston
casualties. It would seem, McConnaughy’s plan for the burial of
Union dead would
be ascendant. But it was Will's proposal, via New York State
Dimone, that gained the greater momentum.#7
Wills and McConaughy were soon at odds bidding on the
same land already promised to McConaughy. “Finally, after much
squabbling, and with letters flying back and forth to the governor,
Wills had to accept defeat, so in August he began to search for an
alternate site.” He decided upon adjacent land, on cemetery ridge
to the north of Evergreen, on Judge David Zieglar’s property. But
community leaders finally made McConaughy relent in mid August, and the
Board of Directors at Evergreen Cemetery agreed to sell the necessary
land back to the
Acting quickly to move the project forward, a designer
was hired to create a plan for
the layout of the new cemetery, and preparations were made for its
dedication in the coming Fall.
A Halt to the Removal of Bodies
Meanwhile on August 10, an order from Major General
Darious N. Couch, Department of the Susquehanna, was printed in
newspapers and posted about Gettysburg, forbidding any more
disinterments of bodies, unless authorized by that office, through
hot summer months of August and September.
When the weather cooled in Autumn, the removal of bodies
to the new cemetery grounds began, under the careful supervision of
hired by David Wills for that purpose. A strict protocol was
established for the whole process.
On October 13, 1863, David Wills published an
“All the dead will be disinterred and the remains
placed in coffins and buried …in the Soldiers’ Cemetery.
“If it is the intention of the friends of any deceased
soldier to take his remains home for burial, they will confer a favor
by immediately making known to me that intention.
“After the bodies are removed to this Cemetery, it
will be very desirable not to disarrange the order of the graves by any
The statement printed by David Wills in the newspaper,
is exactly the same answer he gave to the agents of Governor John
Andrew when they wrote him and inquired if the body of Michael Laughlin
might not be sent home for burial.
Chairman of Selectmen Charles O. Green to Governor John Andrew, January 19th 1864
The mother of Michael Laughlin would
have known nothing of the on-going plans for the creation of the new
National Cemetery at Gettysburg. Her son happened to die on
October 8, just as Mr. Wills was arranging for the collection of bodies
at the new soldiers' cemetery.
The following correspondence was found
in the Executive Correspondence Collection for the 13th MA Regiment, at
the Massachusetts State Archives.
Shrewsbury Selectman, Charles O.
Green cites the date
of Laughlin's death as November 8th. It was equally reported to
be October 8th on official douments. (I believe the earlier date is
correct, although the attending surgeon stated the later date in his
correspondence a month or so after the fact.)
In this letter,
Selectman Green writes Governor Andrew to see if Laughlin's body could
brought home to Shrewsbury for burial in a local cemetery.
Shrewsbury, Jan 19th 1864
John A. Andrew
Governor of Mass.
Michael Laughlin of this town a member of Co. K,
Mass. Reg. Vol. was wounded at the battle of Gettysburg, and died in
consequence of his wounds Nov. 8th 1863, in one of the Hospitals of
that place. As soon as intelligence of his death reached his
home, the Selectmen of this town applied to Adams Express Company to
have his body brought home. At that time the Express Co. was not
allowed to bring bodies over the road, but when the weather became
cooler they made application for the body and was told by the Agent
(David Wills Esq) of the State of Pa. that the regulations forbid the
removal of bodies once interred in the Soldiers Cemetery. I have
since had correspondence with Henry Edwards Esq of Boston in relation
to this case, and he wrote to Mr. Wills to Know, if this body could be
obtained and has received the following answer. “Gov. Curtin requested
me to permit no removals to be made from the Cemetery grounds unless
upon request or recommendation of the Governor of the State in whose
lot the Soldier was burried.”
By the earnest Solisitation of Margaret Laughlin the
aged and widowed Mother of Michael Laughlin I write to ask if you will
give a writing that will enable her to obtain the remains of her son.
There seems to be nothing she desires so much in
her affliction as the removal of her sons body to her home. If
her request is granted the favour will be received with much gratitude
by herself and family.
Your Obt Servant
Chas. O. Green
Chairman of Selectmen
It is evident from the above letter how sincere were the
pleadings of Margaret to retrieve her son's remains for burial in
Shrewsbury. Michael died at a critical time in the planning of
the National Cemetery at Gettysburg. His death occurred after
Wills announcement in October, that those who wanted the remains of
friends or relatives shipped home, should contact him
was not until January when the request on behalf of
Margaret Laughlin reached Gettysburg. By then Michael was already
buried at the new Soldiers' cemetery. The cemetery was famously
19, 1863 when President Lincoln gave his renowned address.
Governor Andrew's Referral to Henry
Edwards, January 20, 1864
Governor Andrew apparently took this
petition from the town of Shrewsbury seriously and tried to see if the
Shrewsbury Selectmen could recover the body.
BOSTON, January 20, 1864.
Case of desired removal of the body of Michael
Laughlin 13th Mass Vols
from the Gettysburg Cemetery.
Respectfully referred to
Henry Edwards Esq. Please
report if any
objection exists to complying with the request of the Selectmen of
Henry Edwards to Colonel H. G. Brown,
Governor John Andrew's Military Secretary
14 Kilby St
Boston, January 20th 1864
Col H. G. Brown
On the application of the
Selectmen of the town of Shrewsbury,
for leave to remove the body of Michael Laughlin from the “National
Cemetery” at Gettysburg Pa., I know of no objection that will apply to
this particular case, but a desire that no changes shall be made,
except in that of a peculiar character, after the transfer to the
Cemetery has taken place, has been expressed by the Authorities having
the whole matter in charge hithertoo–– The vacancy it
would cause in the general arrangement of the Mass Lot and the
numbering of the grave, as published in the various public
documents connected with this Subject, also renders it undesirable to
have changes made, if to be avoided. ––
The friends, in this case, appear to have made early
recover the remains of Laughlin and are more worthy of consideration,
than those who defer making application until after the removal to the
Selectman Green's Letter of Introduction
for Mrs. Margarate Laughlin, Feb. 3, 1864
Laughlin's name is on the rolls of the
13th MA as Michael O. Laughlin. The Selectmen of Shrewsbury write
the same. Austin Stearns called him O'Laughlin, which seems
likely. The family may have decided to drop the prefix.
Apparently Michael's mother made a direct appeal, in person to Governor
Andrew, concerning the return of her son's body for burial in
proper death and a proper burial were very important cultural
rituals in the Victorian
era. It adds another dimension to the tragedy of the Civil War,
because so many
perished in unknown
graves and often in unknown locations all alone.
Shrewsbury, Feb. 3d 1864
To his Excellency
John A. Andrew Gov. of Mass
Mrs. Margaret Laughlin, is the Mother of Michael Laughlin a
member of Co K, 13th Reg. Mass. Vols. who was wounded at the battle of
Gettysburg and afterwards died in one of the Hospitals of that place,
and was buried in the Soldiers National Cemetery. She has made an
effort to remove the body of her son to her home but was told by David
Wills Esq of Gettysburg that the Rules forbid the removal of
bodies without the recommendation of the Governor of the State where
the Soldier belonged. It is to get a writing from you, that Mrs.
Laughlin calls on you at this time.
Your Obt Servant
Chas. C. Green
Chairman of Selectmen
Here the story ends, as far as documentation in the
Archives goes. In his book, Gregory Coco has a note that sources,
Last Full Measure, by John W. Busey, in which it is stated that at
least 7 bodies were removed from the National Cemetery after burial
As far as I know, Michael remains buried at the National
Cemetery. He is memorialized however, with his name engraved on
the Shrewsbury Civil
War Monument which stands erect on the Town Common. The names of
28 others from Shrewsbury, who served and died in the war,
his. The monument was created in 1869. Its dedication date is
unknown but it was during that year, probably on Decoration Day in May.
To follow up on this story I contacted Justin Dobson,
Cemetery Program Manager for the Town of Shrewsbury, MA. Justin
wrote to me and said, “I've searched our records and did not find
a record of the Laughlin/O'Laughlin (I also checked
Loughlin/O'Loughlin) family being interred at Mountain View Cemetery.
“I also checked with our Town Clerk who maintains
records of all persons dying within Town limits, even if they are
ultimately interred in a cemetery outside of Shrewsbury. There was no
reference to the Laughlin/O'Laughlin family members that you are
looking for. This would suggest that they moved from Shrewsbury at some
point after Michael's passing and before Margaret's death circa 1890.”
Justin found the Laughlin family buried at the
neighboring city of Worcester. The date of birth stated for
mother Margaret would add 4 years to her age, above what she stated on
her Pension Application. Records show that Margaret (1795-1890),
her son Patrick
John (1834 -1886), and daughter Margaret (1832-1884) are buried at St.
Johns Cemetery in Worcester, MA, a Catholic
burying ground. There is a marker for Michael (1840-1863)
included in the Laughlin cemetery plot.
To follow up, I will contact them to see if it is a
memorial stone, or if Michael's remains are in Worcester.
His aged mother Margaret, was dependent upon her son's
support to make ends meet, and she immediately filed for a Mother's
pension, after learning of his
death. The pension file contains more information about the
Laughlin family and is discussed in the next section below.
The History of Shrewsbury, by William T. Harlow, [D.
Hamilton Hurd, (ed.), History of Worcester County Massachusetts with
Historical Sketches of many of its Pioneers and Prominent
Men (Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1889), vol. I, pp. 780-810.
with corrections to the text added by Hiram Harlow; computer
transcription by Robert J. Cormier.] Accessed at
www.shrewsburyhistoricalsociety.org/ Accessed on March 12,
A Strange and
Blighted Land, Gettysburg: The
Aftermath of a Battle, Gregory A. Coco. Thomas Publications,
Three Years With Company K, by
Sergeant Austin C.
Stearns (Deceased) Edited by Arthur Kent, Associated University
Three Years in the Army, Charles E. Davis, Jr.,
Estes & Lauriat, 1894.
Executive Correspondence Collection, Massachusetts State
Archives, 13th Regiment.
The photograph and Information about the Shrewsbury
Soldiers’ Monument comes from Patrick T. J. Browne, at the
Massachusetts Civil War Monument Project.
Email Correspondence with Justin Dobson, Cemetery
Program Manager, Shrewsbury Dept. of Parks & Cemetery Maintenance,
March 14-15, 2023.
Pictured is Michael Laughlin's marker at
St. John's Cemetery, Worcester, MA. The photo was taken by
late Findagrave contributor, Family Researcher [His brother James
Ahaesy manages the account.]
1. Stearns, Three Years in the Army., page 188.
2. Stearns, pages 190-191.
3. Coco, Strange and Blighted
Land, p. 39. Coco cites: McCalmont, Alfred B. Extracts
Letters …Franklin Pa: Robert McCalmont (1908): p. 47.
4. Coco, page 2. Stats.
5. Coco, page 110.
6. Coco, page 96. Coco
cites: Wert, J. Howard, Monument Handbook, pp. 200-01.
7. Coco, p. 110. Coco
cites: Busey, John W., The Last Full Measure… p. xxxix. Coco
adds: For an excellent overview of the National Cemetery history, …see
John S. Patterson’s “Preface,” in this fine
book. The Boston committee which
undertook the aforementioned task was led by Alderman Hiram A. Stevens,
and consisted of eight delegates. They hired Solomon Powers who,
with these men, eventually visited the entire field. Finding only
rude headboards on the ground, they attempted to identify as many of
the Massachusetts men as possible. In a weeks’ time they
re-marked over 135 sites, with Powers adding 20 or 30 more later
on. Powers, as we know, was contracted to rebury all
Massachusetts soldiers in the National Cemetery, his work being
accomplished in accordance with David Wills’ specifications, but he
kept a separate contract with Massachusetts alone.
8. Coco, page 112.
9. Coco, page 116.
Return to Top of Page
Laughlin files for a Pension
When Michael Laughlin died his widowed mother Margaret,
aged about 65 in 1864, applied for a mother’s pension according to law
passed by Congress in July 14, 1862. To receive payment from the
Government, she had to
prove her son was in the military, that he served honorably, and that
he did send money home from his pay
towards her support. The pension file documents include
Application, Michaels’ Proof of Service, (from his Company K Captain),
and Proof of Death from the Surgeon who handled his case at Camp
Letterman General Hospital, Gettysburg. Friends and family
stepped up to testify that Michael sent
money home for Margaret’s support. She was successful in
obtaining the Government pension and collected it until her death about
February 1890. She would have been about age 91 then.
Statement of Assistant Surgeon, H. C. May,
December 6, 1863
Before Margaret's pension claim could go
forth, she needed testimony
that her son was in the service and that he had died while in the
service. Assistant Surgeon
H.C. May, provided his statement on December 6th, regarding Michael
Laughlin's death. It is interesting to note that Surgeon May
gives the date of
death as November 8, 1863. This is what is reported in the letter
to Massachusetts Governor John Andrew from the Shrewsbury Selectmen,
when they requested Laughlin's body be shipped home for burial.
Other records, including those in the 13th MA Regimental books say
Laughlin died October 8th. Other pension documents also give the
date of death as October 8th. How could the surgeon have made
such a mistake? Were there simply too many cases for him to recall the
proper date of death, or, are all the other records incorrect?
State of Pennsylvania
County of Montgomery To Wit:
I, H. C. May, Assistant Surgeon 145th Regiment New York
Volunteers, late of Camp Letterman General Hospital at Gettysburg Pa.
under oath do depose and say that Michael Laughlin, a Private in
Company K 13th Regt. Massachusetts Volunteers, was received into the
said General Hospital suffering from a dangerous gunshot wound near the
left knee, received at the battle of Gettysburg on or about the Second
day of July A. D. 1863; that he was placed under my
care; that he
died on the eighth day of November A.D. 1863 in consequence of said
wound. And that I saw and handled his body after death.
H C. May
Sworn and Subscribed before me
this 7th day of December A.D. 1863
Wm H. Holstein J. P.
Montgomery Co. Pa.
Captain William B. Kimball's Statement,
December 16, 1863
Captain William B. Kimball gave
testimony at Culpeper Court-House, Va, on December 16, 1863.
Lieutenant William R. Warner witnessed the statement. This is all
very interesting because the regiment did not move camp near to
Court-House until they marched there from the area of Kelly's Ford on
Christmas Eve. That means Kimball and Warner had to travel to
Culpeper from Camp, about 14 miles to take care of business.
State of Virginia
County of Culpepper To wit;
Lt. William B. Kimball
commanding Company K of the 13th
Regt. Massachusetts Volunteers, under oath, do depose and say, that
Michael Laughlin, a private in said Company, received a dangerous
gunshot wound near the left knee, on or about the second day of July,
A.D. 1863, at the battle of Gettysburg, while in the line of his duty,
and that he was placed in a Hospital, after which time my personal
knowledge of him has ceased.
William B. Kimball
Captain Commanding Co K, 13th Regt. Mass. Vols.
Sworn to and subscribed before me this Sixteenth day of
December A.D. 1863
William R. Warner
Lieut 13th Regt Mas. Vols
Statement of Marriage, December 26, 1863
Apparently Margaret had to prove to the
authorities that she was indeed Michael's mother with proof of her
marriage. As he was married in far off Ireland, where obtaining a
proper marriage certificate would take much time and effort, she
instead relied on the testimony of some Irish friends who knew her and
her husband both in Ireland, and in Massachusetts.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
On this twenty sixth day of December, A.D. 1863,
before me, George Leonard, a Justice of the Peace, in and for said
County, John Mitchell and John Quinn, both of the City of Worcester in
said Co., persons whom I certify to be respectable and entitled to
credit, and who being by me duly sworn, say that they were well
acquainted with Patrick Laughlin, and with Margaret Laughlin, the
applicant, for more than twenty years, in the Town of Gort, County of
Galway, Ireland, that the said Patrick and Margaret lived together as
man and wife, that neither they nor any other person, to their
knowledge, entertained a doubt of the fact of said persons’ being
married, and that it would have been impossible for them to have so
lived, and been communicants of the Catholic Church at that place,
which they were, if the fact had been otherwise.
John X Quinn
Sworn to and subscribed before me this twenty sixth day
A.D. 1863; and I hereby certify that I have no interest, direct or
indirect, in the prosecution of this claim.
George Leonard, Justice of
Margaret's Declaration, December 29, 1863
None of the family were literate so
Margaret used an
X to sign this document, duly witnessed by two well known acquaintances
and a clerk of the Massachusetts Superior Court.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
this twenty ninth day of December A.D. 1863 personally appeared before
the Clerk of the Superior Court for the County of Worcester, Margaret
Laughlin, a resident of Shrewsbury in the County of Worcester and
Commonwealth of Massachusetts, aged sixty five years, who, being first
duly sworn according to law, doth on her oath make the following
declaration in order to obtain the benefits of the provision made by
the act of Congress approved July 14th, 1862; That she is the
Patrick Laughlin, and mother of Michael Laughlin, who was a private in
Company K, commanded by William B. Kimball, in the 13th Regt of
Massachusetts Volunteers, in the war of 1861, who died on the eighth
day of November, A.D. 1863, at Camp Letterman General Hospital,
Gettysburg in consequence of a gunshot wound near the left knee,
received at the battle of Gettysburg, on or about the second day of
July, A.D. 1863, while in the line of duty.
She further declares
that her said son, upon whom she was wholly or in part dependent for
support, having left no widow or minor child under sixteen years of age
surviving, declarant makes this application for a pension under the
above mentioned act, and refers to the evidense filed herewith, and
that in the proper department, to establish her claim; she also states
that she has no certificate of her marriage, and never had one, it not
being the custom to give any in the parish in Gort, the place of her
marriage; that the clergyman who married her, has been dead for more
than twenty years, and though a record of her marriage, no doubt,
exists in the parish, it would be extremely difficult to obtain a
certificate copy, and in proper season, wherefore she asks that the
secondary testimony herewith filed may be allowed.
declares, that she has not, in any way, been ingaged in, or aided or
abetted, the rebellion in the United States; that she is not in the
receipt of a pension under the 2nd section of the act above mentioned,
or under any other act, nor has she again married since the death of
her son, the said Michael Laughlin.
Margaret X Laughlin
personally appeared John Mitchell and John Quinn, residents of the City
of Worcester, persons whom I certify to be respectable and entitled to
credit, and who being by me duly sworn, say that they were present and
saw Margaret Laughlin make her mark to the foregoing declaration;
they further swear that they have every reason to believe, from the
appearance of the applicant, and their acquaintance with her, that she
is the identical person she represents herself to be.
John X Quin
[signed] John Mitchell
to and subscribed before me this twenty ninth day of December A.D.
1863; and I hereby certify that I have no interest, direct or
in the prosecution of this claim.
Joseph Mason Clerk
Applicant’s Post Office address, Shrewsbury, Mass.
The Grave of Michael Laughlin at the
Gettysburg National Cemetery
Pension Office to Adjt. General,
Washington D.C., January 2, 1864
The Pension Office required an official
record of Michael's service and statement of death from the Adjutant
General's Office in Washington, D.C.
[in pencil] 17478
ACT OF JULY 14, 1862.
Margaret Laughlin Worcester Co. Mass, Mother of Michael
Laughlin, Priv. Co. K. 13 Mass. Vols. died at Gettysburg Pa. Nov. 8,
1863, of wound.
January 5, 1864
Respectfully referred to the
Adjutant General, for official evidence of service and death.
Joseph H. Barrett
Received, January 2, 1864
Feb 11/66 Letter to
Mar 8/64. Admitted.
Adjutant General's Statement, Washington,
D.C. January 25th, 1864
The above request was answered January
Adjutant General’s Office,
Jan 25th 1864
I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt from your
Office of application for Pension No. 42,093, and to return it herewith
with such information as is furnished by the files of this Office.
It appears from the Rolls on file in this Office, that
Michael O. Laughlin was enrolled on the 11th day of July, 1861, at
Boston in Co. K 13th Regiment of Mass Volunteers, to serve 3 years, or
during the war, and mustered into service as a Private on the 16th day
of July, 1861, at Fort Independence, B. H., in Co. K, 13th Regiment of
Mass Volunteers to serve 3 years or during the war. On the Muster Roll
of Co. K of that Regiment, for the months of Nov & Dec 1863, he is
reported “Died at Gen’l Hosp. Gettysburg Pa Oct. 8th 1863, of wounds
received July 1st 1863”
I am Sir very respectfully,
Your obedient servant
Sam N. Peck
Assistant Adjutant General.
The Commissioner of Pensions,
Name of applicant, Margaret Laughlin
Address, Shrewsbury, Worcester Co. Mass.
February 23rd, 1864, Testimony Michael
Sent Money Home
The following two letters I find most
interesting, for they give a little more insight into the make up of
Michael's family situation, and background.
There is the fact that when pension
applicant's were trying to get a claim from the Government, it helped
to paint a picture of dire circumstances and play the sympathy card
with the then tight-fisted government officials. But it seems in
this case, they didn't need to exaggerate very much.
These accounts are backed up by Sergeant
Austin Stearns' witness to Michael Laughlin's response to the military
surgeons who recommended amputating his leg: “Mike cried like a
baby when the
surgeon made their decision, and plead his poverty and an aged Mother
that was dependent on him as a reason why he could not part [with]
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
County of Worcester
On this twenty third day of February A.D. one thousand
and sixty four, personally appeared before me, George Leonard, a
Justice of the Peace within and for the County and Commonwealth
aforesaid, Edmund J. Moreton and John Cody, both of Shrewsbury in said
County, who being by me duly sworn according to law, do depose and say,
that they are well acquainted with Margaret Laughlin, the applicant,
and with her family, and that they were well acquainted with Michael
Laughlin her son, the deceased soldier who was a member of Company K of
the 13th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, who was wounded at the
battle of Gettysburg, and who died soon after; that said soldier
never married, and left no child; that said Margaret Laughlin, to
certain knowledge, has no property, lives on very small means, in a
ruinous cottage which is barely a shelter from the weather, has been
for three or four years dependent on her said son, Michael Laughlin,
for her support, and for about one year, has been entirely dependent on
him for support; that said Margaret Laughlin has for some years,
age and infirmity, been unable to earn anything for her support;
she had three sons; John Laughlin, Patrick Laughlin and Michael
Laughlin, and two daughters, Margaret Laughlin and Mary Laughlin;
John Laughlin is a person of feeble mind, and required care and
attention himself; that Patrick Laughlin has been married for
year, has a wife and child, and cannot possibly do more than support
his own family; that Margaret Laughlin and Mary Laughlin are now
employment, and that as Mary Laughlin has not good health, they can do
no more, at a time than support themselves, and cannot possibly
contribute any of their scanty earnings to the support of their mother;
that the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, by law, gives one dollar a week
to a mother who is entirely dependent on a son who is in the army of
the United States during this war, that said Margaret Laughlin, the
mother, has received one dollar a week state aid, for the last year, or
about that time, on account of said Michael Laughlin, that before the
last year she received half a dollar a week, on the supposition that
Patrick Laughlin, then unmarried, but for about a year married, and now
with a wife and child, could contribute one half to her support and
said Michael Laughlin the other half; they also say they have no
interest whatever in the prosecution of this claim.
Edmund J Moreton
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 23d day of
February, A. D. 1864,
and I hereby certify that I have no interest direct of indirect, in the
prosecution of this claim
Justice of the Peace.
The Testimony of Michael's Sisters,
Michael's sisters Mary and Margaret had
to testify to back up the claim that their Mother was dependent upon
Michael's support, and that he regularly sent money home from his
military pay, for that purpose.
Commonwealth of Massachusetts
On this twenty third day of February, A.D. one thousand
and sixty four, personally appeared before me, George Leonard, a
Justice of the Peace within and for the County, and Commonwealth
aforesaid, Margaret Laughlin and Mary Laughlin, both of Shrewsbury in
said County, and being by me duly sworn according to law, do depose and
say, that they are the daughters of Margaret Laughlin, the
that their mother is very poor and infirm; that they have not the
or power to render her any material assistance; that they have now two
brothers, John Laughlin and Patrick Laughlin; that John is
and can possibly, at present, earn his living, but certainly no
that Patrick has been married for about a year, and has now a wife and
child who require all his earnings; that their brother Michael
in the service of the United States, did for many years assist their
mother very much, mostly in money; that for the last year, or
that time, she has depended on him entirely for support, and has
nothing now to look for to support her but a pension; that
frequently send home small sums of money from the army for his
that as none of the family can read or write, they kept no account of
the times when he sent the money, or most of the sums, but they do well
remember that within a year or a little more than a year, he sent home
at one time, fifteen dollars, at another twenty dollars, and at another
thirty five dollars, for her support; that their mother could not
lived without his assistance, and the state aid of one dollar a week,
which she has been paid by the Commonwealth for about one year past,
because she was entirely dependant on Michael for support; they
say that Michael was never married, and let no child, and that they
have no interest in the prosecution of this claim.
Margaret + Laughlin
Mary + Laughlin
Sworn to and subscribed before me this 23d day of
February A.D. 1864,
and I hereby certify that I have no interest, direct or indirect in the
prosecution of this claim.
Justice of the Peace.
Pension Office Case Summary, March 8, 1864
David Welch a clerk in the Pension
Office summarized the case history of Margaret's Claim, including many
factual errors, but verified that her dependence on Michael for support
WAR OF 1861.
Brief in the case of Margaret Laughlin Mother of
Laughlin priv. Co. K,
13 Mass Vols
Worcester, County and State of Mass.
Act of July 14,
Post Office Address of Applicant, Shrewsbury Mass.
Claim for Mothers Pension.
Identification in due Form.
The dependence of the Mother upon her son for support
relationship is established by credible witnesses.
Michael O Laughlin was mustered in July 16, 1861 and
died at Genl.
Hospital Gettysburg Pa October 8, 1863 of wounds received July 1, 1863.
Surgeon certificate states that the soldier died July 8,
General Hospital at Gettysburg of wounds received in the battle of
Gettysburg July 2, 1863. [Surgeon actually said Nov. 8, 1863. ––B.F.]
Capt Certifies that the soldier received a severe wound
at the battle
of Gettysburg July 2, 1863 and was sent to the hospital. [July 1 is
The deceased soldier left no Widow nor Miinor children.
Power of Attorney to[?]
Admitted March 8, 1864, to a Pension of $8 Dollars, per
commencing October 8, 1863.
Mrs. Margaret Laughlin
Name and Residence of Agent.
Eld Lullc. D.
Pension Certificate, March 30, 1864
Margaret was successful in obtaining her
pension. Below is a copy of the certificate issued March 30,
1864. She collected $8.00 a month. Her pension was dropped
in March 1890, when she failed to make her monthly claims. By
then the amount she received had been increased to $12.00 per
Mother of Michael Laughlen
Regiment 13” Mass. Vols.
Rate per month,
Commencing 8th October 1863
Certificate dated 30th March 1864
and sent to Claimant
Act 4th July, 1862.
Book A Vol. 3 Page 4?
[on back a slip of paper
glued to the certificate]
1874. February 25––Transferred from BOSTON to
FITCHBURG, Mass. by general transfer from the 4th day of December 1873.
This brings to a close, my 10 year
the history of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, for the year
1863! ––Bradley M. Forbush.
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