About Us

Welcome to the website dedicated to preserving the Civil War history & record of the men of the 13th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer infantry. The site was launched June 2, 2008.  Since that time over 60 pages of detailed history have been added.  These pages include newspaper stories, soldiers letters, diaries, memoirs, photos, and post-war reminiscences. The site continues to grow.

It all started when, Greg Dowden, Brad Forbush, & Art Rideout met in the late 1990's. We all had two things in common. We had ancestors who served in the '13th Mass' and we wanted to learn more about what they did.  At that time there was very little information on-line regarding this regiment. "Three Years in the Army," the regimental history written in 1893 by Charles E. Davis, Jr., was our primary resource until Greg's significant discovery of the 13th Regiment Association Circulars.

Between 1888 - 1922 veterans of the regiment mailed a circular to association members announcing the time & place of annual re-union dinners held in Boston. Each circular briefly summarized attendance & activities at the previous year's event.  Soon letters articles & poems appeared - reminiscences of the soldiers, that detailed their war time adventures. We determined to collect all 35 issues of this rare publication. It took two years.

Brad indexed the 1000 pages of the circulars & Art made them available to interested parties on computer disc.  Our knowledge base grew exponentially from that time forward. New source materials scrounged from libraries, donated by other descendants of soldiers & shared with us by collectors brought more history  to light.  This website is the culmination of all these efforts.  It is dedicated to the memory of those who served in the 13th Mass;  revealing their lives and accomplishments to share with all those interested.

Our Predecessors

William Henry Forbush

Photo of William Henry Forbush      William Henry Forbush joined the Westboro Rifles 2 months before his 18th birthday. At Fort Independence, July 16, 1861 he mustered into the 13th Mass as a private in Company K. Records show he was sick with a fever in the regimental hospital, Sharpsburg, August 14 - 19 two weeks after the regiment arrived in western Maryland. He was with his company at the engagements of Bolivar Heights, October, 1861; Cedar Mountain, Thoroughfare Gap, and 2nd Bull Run, Aug. 1862. A gunshot wound to the left hand received at the latter battle sent him to a hospital in Philadelphia. While recovering there he transferred into Battery C, 3rd U.S. Horse Artillery in December, 1862. Perhaps he thought he had a better chance of survival in that branch of the service. He completed his 3 year term of enlistment with this unit in July, 1864.  He listed the following artillery engagements on the back of his muster out papers: Chancellorsville, Kelly's Ford, Aldie, Middleburg, Upperville, Smithburg & Williamsport (pursuit of Lee's Army following Gettysburg) Culpepper, Raccoon Ford, Robertson River, and Kilpatrick's Raid to Richmond, Feb.28th - March 4th 1864. Mustered out at City Point, Va. on July 7th 1864 he returned to his home town of Westboro, MA too sick to continue in his old occupation - sleigh-maker. He had poor health for the rest of his life, which he attributed to a cold he caught while in the service.

Eventually he entered into a successful business partnership with his uncle, Gilmon Morse; running a dry-goods store (Morse & Company). He died of consumption at age 37 in January, 1881. He left a widow and a 7 year old son. His widow Alice re-married another veteran, Dexter Brigham in 1883. Alice Brigham died in 1927. William's son Clifton Eugene Forbush 1873 -1954, eventually moved & settled in Peekskill, NY. William Henry Forbush's diary of 1863 and several photographs survive. Some of these can be viewed at this web site.

William H. H. Rideout

Photo of W. H. H. Rideout     An original member of Company B, (considered the 'B'est company by its members) William H. H. Rideout served the whole 3 year term of enlistment with the regiment. The regimental roster states he was taken prisoner Aug. 30, 1862, which means he would have been one of the many soldiers overrun by Confederate troops on Chinn Ridge at the battle of 2nd Bull Run. He is described as a ladies man by some of his comrades. Indeed he was married 3 times. When his first wife died at age 38, he at the age of 46 married a gal age 28. She died at age 38 and he then remarried a gal age 23 when he was 58. He lived another 20 years until 1920. His 3rd wife collected a pension until her death at age 82 in 1958. For many years after the war he was employed at the Boston Custom House as inspector of cigars. A position he retained until the time of his death. William had 3 sons, Henry 1865-1924, William 1872-1920 and Carl 1876-1927. All three made several of the re-unions with their dad. At one re-union Carl's daughter Ethel, 1906-2004 spoke to the veterans. In later years Art Rideout, Carl's grandson, asked Ethel what she had to say to the soldiers, but she could only remember speaking, not what she said. William belonged to the E.W. Kinsley Post No. 113 of the Grand Army of the Republic in Boston, Mass. He & his 3 wives are buried at the Mt. Wollaston Cemetery, Quincy, Norfolk County, Massachusetts.

James Augustus Smith

Photo of James Augustus Smith, Co. I     James Augustus Smith already had deep Yankee roots when President Lincoln called for volunteers in 1861. Born in 1838, the son of a shipwright in Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, Smith promptly signed on to preserve the Union. In July 1861 Smith marched through Boston as Corporal in Company I of the 13th Mass. In Harpers Ferry, Virginia during the fall of 1861, his company stole away with the "John Brown bell" as a souvenir. At 2nd Bull Run, Smith suffered a severe strain while carrying a wounded comrade from the field. Hospitalized for the strain & dysentery, he was discharged in April 1863. He re-enlisted in the spring of 1864, participating in Grant's Overland Campaign as 1st Sergeant of Company H, 58th Massachusetts Veteran Regiment; Burnside's IX Corps. The 58th fought at Wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna River and Cold Harbor, where the "Regt. was all laying down on our Belleys...." and a bullet sliced across Smith's head. After recovering he re-joined his comrades in the Siege of Petersburg. As the 58th hunkered down, Smith wrote to his wife Georgie, and mentions "listening to every sound to distinguish the blowing of the bushes from the rustle of the enemy."

On September 30th, 1864 Smith was shot in the chest at Peeble's Farm and taken to a POW hospital in Richmond. Almost everyone else from his regiment, who wasn't killed or wounded, went to deadly Salisbury Prison in North Carolina. After being paroled, he spent the remainder of the war hospitalized.

Smith returned home in the summer of 1865 and raised a family with Georgie. As a machinist he invented two devices, earning patents for each. He had four daughters and lived to the age of 73 before dying of a stroke in 1911.

James Augustus Smith copyright 2002 Greg Dowden. All rights reserved.

Addendum, March 15, 2023

Its been many years since I wrote the above introduction to this website.  I wanted to include the efforts of Greg Dowden, who founded the idea for a website, and built the first prototype, and Art Rideout, who did so much to promote and spread the information we uncovered about the Regiment.   I envisioned us as a contemporary "13th Regiment Association."   For many years I had a descendant group at Yahoo Groups, and information was shared, until Yahoo discontinued the service.  Sadly, I believe Art, a Veteran of the Korean War, recently passed away.  He was a great supporter of this site.  When I had a genealogical question about a particular soldier, Art always responded quickly with documentation.  He did this right up until a couple of years ago.  He was an enthusiastic family historian.  You can see the work he did at findagrave.  ––I haven't been able to keep in touch with Greg as much as I would have liked.  He has been busy with his own life.  We still try to touch base every couple of years.  The website is pretty much, and has always been, my project alone, for those who inquire and write to me.   ––Bradley M. Forbush.

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A Note About How To Navigate This Website

Greetings.  This site was designed to tell the story of the 13th Mass in chronological order. One way to navigate through the site is to follow the 'outline' history pages for the years, 1861, 1862, 1863, 1864, & After. This will give a general overview of the campaigns in which the regiment participated.  The material on these pages is mostly obtained from the official history of the regiment, "Three Years in the Army," by Charles E. Davis, Jr., Boston, Estes & Lariat, 1894. They have been updated with more accurate summaries of the regiment's service. This is the best way to get perspective of the regiment's history.

A second way to navigate is to visit the 'detail' pages that are linked to the 'outline' pages. The detail pages examine a particular period of the regiment's history in-depth, with photographs, soldiers' letters, newspaper articles and other source materials relevant to a  particular point in time. These pages are long, and can be divided into sections of more than one page. It was intended the reader might treat the detail pages like magazine articles, taking time to leisurely read through them for a contemporary feel of what the soldiers were experiencing.

It was my intent, visitors would navigate through the detailed history in chronological order. This enables a visitor to experience the progression of the war as the volunteers experienced it.  One can see the evolution of the optomistic volunteer of 1861, who thinks the war will be short, turn into the hardened veteran, who suffered extreme hardship and loss through each Union defeat as the war dragged on.  The soldiers only wished for a commander who would bring them victories, or most of all, for the time when they could return home.

Another way to navigate the website is to use the outline history to find a period of interest, then click on a 'detail' page to read more about it.

It is also usefull to navigate through the site from the 'Site Map' page.  This is the index to The 13th Massachusetts Volunteers.  A visitor can follow the fortunes of a particular soldier, or follow events, by clicking through the links provided on that page.

I hope you enjoy the site, and feedback is always welcome via the 'contact us' page. I'm always interested to know who my readers are. –– Brad Forbush, webmaster.

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