Year's End, 1863

Part 3; Loose Ends

Carolyn Prince's Letter to Thomas Drew

Pictured is a letter written by Carolyn Wiley Prince.    It is just one of many letters and documents filed away in the care-worn volume of correspondence concerning the 13th Massachusetts Regiment in the Massachusetts State Archives; Executive Correspondence Collection.

Table of Contents

 Introduction - 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 regiment, 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, is 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 volumes 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 little.  Another noteworthy entry on this page is the story of Private Francis A. Gould.

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 she 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 Ehler's story.  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 relent.

I've ended the page with transcribed documents from Michael's Pension File.

Loose Ends seemed an appropriate page title considering the eclectic nature of the stories presented here.

PICTURE CREDITS:   Mayor William Gaston 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 Town of Shrewsbury from the website; 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.

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On Getting Promoted to New Regiments

Solicitations to Massachusetts Governor John Andrew, from influential and prominent citizens of 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 wrote,

“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, Company E

William Welman to Adjt. Genl. Schouler

Boston, Oct. 24, 1861.

    Adj. Genl. Schouler,

Dear Sir:

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.

Yours truly,                  
  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.  His conservative policies drew the support of many Republicans.

[LETTERHEAD]  City of Roxbury, CITY HALL.

William Gaston, Mayor of Boston

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

Wm  Gaston     

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, Company A

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. Andrew
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 cheerfullyPrivate Henry A. Harris endorse the petition of his superior Officers.

N S Kimball      Selectmen
        Levi Taylor          of
        A. A. Sargent    Haverhill

Wm Taggart
        A.A. Appleton,
        Calvin Buttrick
        Gilman Corning
        A.B. Jaques Town Clerk
        James F. Duncan
        E.P. Hill
        C. Tompkins
        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.

Executive Dept.
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
Messenger &c.

Hd Qtrs. 13th Mass Vols
   March 20 1863

Respectfully returned.

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 March, 1863, Harris was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in one of the new regiments of Colored Troops then forming.   His record:  Promoted in 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, Fredericksburg.)

George Maynard, Company D, October 23, 1862

Perhaps the boldest letter in the collection is this one, sent directly to Major-General N.P. Banks from 13th MA 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.  And, General Banks made no hesitation to reply.

Oct 23rd               

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 ––

George Maynard, Company D

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 Obedient         

Geo. H. Maynard
                Co. D, 13th Regt
                                    Mass. Vols
                        of Waltham

[General Banks Endorsement Written on Reverse]

Head Quarters
  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.

Sergeant Sigourney Wales, Company C

The followng Officer endorsement and follow-up 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 Original ––

Camp Jackson, Williamsport   
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               
Comd’g Comp’y C.      
13th R.M.V.     

Head-Quarters 13th Reg’t. Mass. Vol’s.
                                                        Williamsport  Feb’y 28th 1862.

I endorse the recommendations of the above named party.

S. H. Leonard     

N. Walter Batchelder                              
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

Dear Sir:

Sigourney Wales

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 of years––

––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?  so that 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 Vols.  
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 following officers, viz:

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 Tower, promoted.

I have the honor to be Sir                         
Your out. Serv’t                   
S.H. Leonard          
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 MA.  He would rise to Lieutenant-Colonel of the regiment.  His journal was used to write the regiment's history.

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Carolyn Wiley Prince Lobbies for her Son, Charles N. W. Cunningham

Charles N. Cunningham, Company A

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 knew 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 lobby 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

Melrose Mass            
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 always 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 you to 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.

With the highest respect,
                        Caroline Willey Prince.

Carolyn followed up her colorful January letter to Governor Andrew in February, 1862, when she wrote to one of his secretaries. 

Carolyn Wiley Prince to Thomas Drew, Gov. Andrew's former Military Secretary.

Thomas Drew, Esq


                            Since I have the honor to receive acknowledgement, under your 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 I know 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 goal 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 companies were being formed or recruited for Garison duty at Fort Independence, and it occurred to me that smart, athletic, young, experienced men would be 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 promotion.

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 to board.  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 Regiment now 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 officers, 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 office, and it was on a list of names of other men from the regiment who had received similar endorsements from their respective officers in the 13th, and the list was consulted when opportunities arose.  But 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.  Obviously feeling more help couldn't hurt her cause, she enlisted some from her friend.


Governor Anderson,
                        My dear Sir: ––

With Mr. Spear I left a copy of Capt Fox’s certificate concerning young 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 attached

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 that Carolyn was so skeptical of, were actually granted commissions in these new units.

In March 1863, after  a year of waiting, Carolyn again appealed directly to Governor John Andrew. Only a single sheet of this letter 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

His Excellency
            Gov. Andrew, of Mass.


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 Excellency...

About the first of last August I noticed some correspondence in the newspapers...[page 1 ends.]

[Reverse side] 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 ––

Very respectfully
            Caroline Willey Prince.

Bowdoinham Maine
        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.”
Massachusetts Governor John A. Andrew

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 three 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 an officer's commission.

Order for Cunningham to report to Newburn

Navy Department.  A. G. O.      
Washington October 5th 1863

Special Orders
No 445

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 Carolina.

Corporal Charles N. W. Cunningham, A, 13th Mass. V.

The Quartermaster’s Dept. will furnish the necessary transportation.

By Order of the Secretary of War      
Signed E. D. Townsend   
Asst. Adjt. Gen’l

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 was famous 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 gallant conduct.”

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. 5.
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 Contents

Problems Problems

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 are being 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 chronicled in 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 A. Andrew,
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.              Clarinda Maria Jordan

We whose names are underwrtitten, are formally acquainted with the petitioner and her situation and join in the prayer– –

Wm. H. Husulton[?]             
Wm K Long                        
Paul Gleason                       
George Shephard[?]          
B. E. W. Davis                   
H. A. Davis                        
J. H. Johnson                      
O. G. Davis                        
E. W. Knowlton                  

John Edson Needs a Furlough

“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 you know 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        

 To G

            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   
Rock bottom       

  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.

Rappahannock Station      
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  Mass Voll
                                Washington DC

    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 1st.  Other recruits were held over, and transferred into the 39th MA,  like 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 39th.  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 discharge.  In September 1864 he found his man, and was honorably discharged from the 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, Cambridge, 1871.

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.


New York, April 9th 1863

His Excellency
                Gov. Andrew

                                    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.

Very Respectfully
                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

Dear sir

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 Capt
                     yours with respect
                                        Olive S. Fellows

the neglect is at his Regt
        not sending his discriptlist

[note on facing page of letter]

N.B. Fellows
at Fort Schuyler
New York

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 " 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."

  According to 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 gripped 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 surviving 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 records.   Olive S. Fellows' death certificate is digitized.  She died at age 41, May 17, 1875.  She is listed as the widowed wife of Napoleon B. 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 story.     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 record?

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Medical Cases

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, Company D

Case.  ––Corporal 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 different termination.

Dr. Thomson concludes after examining some other like cases:

“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 excision...

...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 details 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.

Philon Whidden, Company B

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 the 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.

The 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 in Boston.

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 edge of 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.

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The Last 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 others 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 among the soldiers.”#1

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.  Their records follow Martha's narrative.

HOSPITAL SCENES AFTER THE BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG. 2nd Division 1st Corps, by Martha Ehler.

Contemporary view of Christ Church We had until now, formed no systematic plan of action.  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 the 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 narrow 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;  the 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.

Tom Laser, lower floor of the church

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 made, and the buttered toast smoking on the stove, and with some nice jelly, kindly sent by those at home, the supper was complete;  we took it over and gave it to each.  Many having lost their right arm, had to be fed;  while some, tempting though the meal was, were too sick to partake of it;  all however, even those suffering worst, thanked us over and over 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 a beginning;  we had only cared for those in the basement of the Church, (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 ready, 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 services were rendered to all, and by the time they were made comfortable, dinner 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 made 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 or mutton soup; (the chicken and mutton were given to the convalescent, and the soup to those who were very sick,)  always two vegetables, and sometimes a simple pudding;  for  supper, tea, with stewed fruit, and buns.  It was very simple;  but when you think that it was always nicely prepared, and enough provided for a hundred and fifty men;  that our cooking apparatus was very imperfect and inconvenient;  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 engaged at the hospital, (that being our first duty,) we tried to do the best we 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.

Dr. Henry L. Baugher, President of the Pennsylvania College

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 reign.”

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 knew he was a great sinner, he said, but he trusted, that, for Christ’s sake, he might be forgiven.   He had an old mother;  would I write 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 for his 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 him 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 was his 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 would save our country, and look with pity on the many sorrowing hearts.

Hear, what a Northern mother said.
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 last sleep;
The second rots in a dungeon deep;
The youngest, wounded, writhes in pain,––
Ah! he will never walk again.

“What recks it,” said the mother grey;
“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 were superior in refinement to many others.  The majority of them were from New England;  all of them had enjoyed the benefits of a good plain 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 for 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,”  “paid 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 though 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 centered, who made life precious and desirable to him,” and much more of a similar import, too sacred to relate.

Winslow Homer illustration of nurse writing a letter for a hospitalized soldier

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 was 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 hand;  I 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 longer be his;  to which was added the fear that the loss of his limb might 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 friends, she 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 days, when 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 applied.

…We labored faithfully among our patients, but many were daily dying;  dying with longing thoughts of home and friends — friends whom they would never see again.  Calmness and resignation distinguished them in their intense sufferings;  for, to their honor be it said,  with severe, and oftentimes fatal wounds, they restrained their complaints, and patiently awaited the attentions of the nurse;  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 over 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 heroes.

Frank Gould Company K

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 Gould, 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?”

I told 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 was no new thing to him;  he had a good, praying mother, and though the 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 it is 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 all.”

The light fled from his eye, the color from his cheeks, and then his parched lips only uttered confused sounds.

Harpers Weekly illustration of graves

Around him, 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 been able 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.  On 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 not divided.

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 homes.  The relentless grave has closed over them, and the grass now waves silently over their resting place;  and when in after days we visited the spot, 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;  Chancellorsville May 3d, 4th and 5th;  at Gettysburg Pa., July 1st, he was wounded and 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

Biographical Information on George E. Sprague

Record from the Roster:
        GEORGE E. SPRAGUE; age, 27; born, Grafton, Mass.;  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.  George had married 18 year old Mary L. Wheeler, of Grafton, MA on January 30th, 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 the young 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 passed a bill granting  pensions to soldiers’ widows and orphans under the age of 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 per month, retroactive to date,  July 9, 1864.  He would receive the monthly 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. 55-56;  2009.
            #2. A Record of the Soldiers of Southborough During The Rebellion,  Marlboro, p. 31; 1867.

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The Town of Shrewsbury, Michael Laughlin, & The National Cemetery


After Michael Laughlin died October 8, 1863* from wounds 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 November 8.

Shrewsbury's Contribution of Men to the War Effort

The town of Shrewsbury did not raise a rifle company of its own for the war effort like most of the towns that surrounded it.  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 eager 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 1862.  Of these 17 men, 8 died in the service,** of which Michael Laughlin was one.

**Two of them died while serving in units they joined after being discharged from the 13th MA.

The Town of Shrewsbury post war

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 town trying to get back to 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 grounds.  Here is how the story unfolded.

Christ Lutheran Church

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 horses.

An description of the pervading atmosphere is given by Lt. 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 wounded);  it 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 11.   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 idea.

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 the new burying ground, where the new burials would be arranged by regiment and State.  It was proposed this action should be done with the joint cooperation of the various Northern states involved.

Gettysburg Attorney David Wills

Gettysburg Attorney David Wills, age 32, (pictured) was the Pennsylvania State agent responsible for collecting Union dead from their 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 running.#6

A logical place for the new National Soldiers' cemetery to be 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 of Evergreen Cemetery.  His 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 making verbal agreements to purchase from his land-owning neighbors,  the grounds surrounding the cemetery.

In Boston, Mayor Fred Lincoln was urging the city council 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 Agent 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 pressure from 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 State.#8

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 the  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 agents hired by David Wills for that purpose.  A strict protocol was established for the whole process.

On October 13, 1863,  David Wills published an announcement in the newspapers.

“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 removals.”#9

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 be brought home to Shrewsbury for burial in a local cemetery.

Shrewsbury, Jan 19th 1864

His Excellency
        John A. Andrew
        Governor of Mass.

Dear Sir

                                                                Michael Laughlin of this town a member of Co. K, 13th 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.

Very Respectfully
        Your Obt Servant
                                                Chas. O. Green
                                                    Chairman of Selectmen
                                                    of Shrewsbury.

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 David Wills announcement in October, that those who wanted the remains of friends or relatives shipped home, should contact him immediately.  It 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 dedicated November 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 Shrewsbury.

Henry Edwards to Colonel H. G. Brown, Governor John Andrew's Military Secretary

14 Kilby St                
Boston, January 20th 1864  

Col H. G. Brown
            Military Secretary
                            Dr Sir,
                                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 arrangements to recover the remains of Laughlin and are more worthy of consideration, than those who defer making application until after the removal to the Cemetery ––

Respectfully Yours      
Henry Edwards        

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 Shrewsbury.  A 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


                                                                                                                The bearer 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.

Very Respectfully
Your Obt Servant

Chas. C. Green
Chairman of Selectmen of Shrewsbury


Shrewsbury Civil War Monument

Here the story ends, as far as documentation in the State Archives goes.  In his book, Gregory Coco has a note that sources, The 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 there.

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,  accompany 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 (1838-1924),  son 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   Accessed on March 12, 2023.

A Strange and Blighted Land, Gettysburg:  The Aftermath of a Battle, Gregory A. Coco. Thomas Publications, Gettysburg, 1995.

Michael Laughlins marker, St. Johns Catholic Cemetery, Worcester, MA

Three Years With Company K, by Sergeant Austin C. Stearns (Deceased) Edited by Arthur Kent, Associated University Presses, 1976.

Three Years in the Army, Charles E. Davis, Jr., Boston, 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 From 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

Margaret 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 Margaret's brief 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.  More Ctr
                                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 Culpeper 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
        County of Worcester                      &c;

On this twenty sixth day of December, A.D. 1863, personally appeared 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 Mitchell

            John X Quinn

Sworn to and subscribed before me this twenty sixth day of December, 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 the Peace.

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
        County of Worcester            To wit;

On 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 widow of 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.

She also 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

Also 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;  and 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

Sworn 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 indirect, in the prosecution of this claim.

Joseph Mason Clerk

Applicant’s Post Office address, Shrewsbury, Mass.

Michael Laughlin's Grave at Gettysburg

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

No. 12093

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.

Pension Office,
                        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 Adjutant

requiring dependency

Mar 8/64.  Admitted.

Adjutant General's Statement, Washington, D.C. January 25th, 1864

The above request was answered January 25th.

Adjutant General’s Office,
                                        Washington, D.C.,
                                                                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,
                                Washington, D.C.

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] it.”

No. 42,093

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
County of Worcester                        To wit.

On this twenty third day of February A.D. one thousand eight hundred, 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 was never married, and left no child;  that said Margaret Laughlin, to their 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, from age and infirmity, been unable to earn anything for her support;  that she had three sons; John Laughlin, Patrick Laughlin and Michael Laughlin, and two daughters, Margaret Laughlin and Mary Laughlin;  that John Laughlin is a person of feeble mind, and required care and attention himself;  that Patrick Laughlin has been married for about a year, has a wife and child, and cannot possibly do more than support his own family;  that Margaret Laughlin and Mary Laughlin are now out of 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
John Lodge

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

George Leonard
                            Justice of the Peace.

The Testimony of Michael's Sisters, February 23d 1864

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
        County of Worcester                    To wit.

On this twenty third day of February, A.D. one thousand eight hundred 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 applicant;  that their mother is very poor and infirm;  that they have not the means or power to render her any material assistance; that they have now two brothers, John Laughlin and Patrick Laughlin;  that John is weak-minded, and can possibly, at present, earn his living, but certainly no more;  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 who died 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 about that time, she has depended on him entirely for support, and has nothing now to look for to support her but a pension;  that Michael did frequently send home small sums of money from the army for his mother;  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 have 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 also say that Michael was never married, and let no child, and that they have no interest in the prosecution of this claim.

Margaret + Laughlin   
her     mark            
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.

George Leonard                  
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 was creditable.

WAR OF 1861.

Brief in the case of Margaret Laughlin Mother of
                                Michael Laughlin priv. Co. K,
                                    13 Mass Vols
                Worcester, County and State of Mass.

        Act of July 14, 1862.
Post Office Address of Applicant, Shrewsbury Mass.
                            Claim for Mothers Pension.

Declaration and Identification in due Form.


The dependence of the Mother upon her son for support and their 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, 1863 at 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 correct.––B.F.]

The deceased soldier left no Widow nor Miinor children.
Power of Attorney to[?]

Admitted March 8, 1864, to a Pension of $8 Dollars, per month, commencing October 8, 1863.

Mrs. Margaret Laughlin

                          Daniel Welch   
                    Examining Clerk.

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 month.

No. 17478



Margaret Laughlin
        Mother of Michael Laughlen
        Rank         Private
        Company         “K”
        Regiment 13” Mass. Vols.

Boston Fitch Agency
        Rate per month,     $ 8.00
        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 chronicle of the history of the 13th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, for the year 1863! ––Bradley M. Forbush.

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Page Updated March 14, 2023.

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I am assured “it is placed on file––”  Now I know what this means and to what it is Equivalent.