Friday, January 18, 2019

Along the Rapidan - Another Musical Post

     I'm currently building pages for my website, Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, detailing the months of September and October, 1863.  The regiment was camped near the Rapidan river in Culpeper County Virginia at this time.   I've had to look beyond the regiment's own writings, to the Brigade and Division to fill out some of the interesting details relating to this time period.

     Raccoon Ford, photo by John Hennessy.

     The histories of the 16th Maine, 83rd New York, and 39th Mass., all proved useful in this respect.  The 39th MA provides the following most interesting account of picket duty along the Rapidan, from the vicinity of  Raccoon Ford to Morton's Ford.  I'm adding links when possible, to add interest to the text, making this, another musical post.

     The "Bonnie Blue Flag" link takes you to a goofy rendition from the movie "Gods & Generals" on youtube, but with the troops singing along it captures the feeling of the real thing.  The next link for "Star Spangled Banner" goes to the Library of Congress American Jukebox site, one of my favorites for sampling these old tunes.  Its a brass band rendition.  Although American Jukebox does have a rendition of "Maryland My Maryland" it is the "Yankee" version of the song, so I've linked instead to a great site called Digital History, for the true "secesh" version.  "Red White & Blue" & "Home Sweet Home" takes you back to the Library of Congress.

      Regarding the reference to "Pennyroyal" I came up empty handed, although I'll bet its a well-known tune under a different title.  I did discover it probably refers in some way to a feeling of loss, and that it may have been written by William Billings, an early American composer of hymns.  Anyone who might know more about this is free to leave a comment below.

      "Old Hundred" or "All People That on Earth Do Dwell" is the popular tune of the Protestant Doxology.  The link goes to a youtube rendition.

     I hope you enjoy this post.
     Somerville Ford, photo by John Hennessy.

     From the 39th MA regimental history:

     In the stillness of the Sunday evening (September 27th) the Confederates in their camp indulged in a prayer-meeting and their hymns, the same that Northern Christians were singing at that very moment in the far away churches, were plainly heard by the hostile soldiery on our side of the stream.  Need there be any wonder that some listeners moralized on the absurdity of men who read the same Bible and sang the same songs, spending several years of their lives, none too long at the longest in shooting at each other?  Here took place the famous exchange of song, so often told in campfires and wherever it is desirable to prove that one touch of Nature makes the whole world kin.  
One night the Rebs. started off on the “Bonnie Blue Flag,” and when their strains had ceased, the Yanks got back at them with the “Star Spangled Banner”; next the Boys in Gray tuned up with “Maryland, My Maryland” and those in Blue naturally retorted with “The Red White and Blue”;  breaking the lull that ensued, our men started John Howard Payne’s immortal and universal “Home Sweet Home”; scarcely had the first note been struck before the sympathetic enemy chimed in, and Virginia woods and hillsides echoed with the tender strains clearly showing how Saxon blood remembers.  On another occasion a musical exchange, beginning with “Pennyroyal,” ran through the list of then popular melodies, though all sang in unison, and very naturally, too, for ending “Old Hundred.”  Will not coming generations wonder that men who could together sing the old songs should ever fight each other?

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Tenth Anniversary

My website, Thirteenth Massachusetts Volunteers, or is Ten Years Old today!  I have a little notebook in which I marked it being uploaded at 12:10 A.M., June 3rd 2008.  Preparation for the planned site started much earlier. 

 I remember checking out a couple of "how to build a website" books from the Burbank Library when the idea germinated.  The books were already a bit out of date,-- for blogs were the new thing at that time.  But I planned the site to be viewed on a desktop with a full screen monitor.  It would feature pictures and text.  Graphics were a big part of the scheme. (It seems it was old fashioned even from the start and I haven't tried to keep pace with changes in tech.)

In mid May, 2008,  I was ready to build it.  My wife Susan helped me create the banners in photoshop, in which she was far more skilled than I.  I was impatient to get something done, but she persistently came up with additional effects to make the graphics more interesting.  Simultaneously, I was writing the text and testing my knowledge with KOMPOZER, the WYSIWYG web building program I learned about over at  SITEWIZARD.

After two weeks the core pages of the site were built.  I paid for the web account at FUTUREQUEST, my host server on May 29 and the site went live midnight June 3rd.  But the site had existed before my incarnation and it is important to acknowledge the drive and enthusiasm of Greg Dowden in this project.

Greg’s ancestor is Sergeant James Augustus Smith of Company I.  Greg was way ahead of me in research skills when we met around 1999.  Our first contact was via email, and it was amusing to discover we lived in neighboring towns and both worked in the entertainment industry.  We arranged a meeting and immediately formed a strong friendship.  

I was amazed at Greg’s skill in tracking down historical documents.  He owned an original volume of one of the Circulars, #27 I think, and told me there were 34 more issues waiting to be found.  He found the document for sale on-line and purchased it.  In the pre-digital camera age,  he traveled to the Army Research Center in Carlisle, PA and plugged quarters into the photocopy machine to get images of Charles Rowndy’s Manuscript.  He discovered Colonel Leonard’s papers at the Gilder Lehman Institute in New York.  He traveled to Mattapoisett to see where his ancestor lived, and with his brother partially re-traced Sgt. Smith’s trip to Maryland from NY city.  He visited Harper’s Ferry and collected information from the park library about the John Brown bell. He found a digital copy of one of Lauriman Russell’s early maps.  I was curious how he generated so many leads.  He told me it was part intuition and hunches.  

We decided to share everything we found, and started by tracking down the most obvious resource available, the 13th Mass. Regt. Assoc. Circulars.  

I've posted about the Circulars before, here and here.

Following his lead I went to Westboro, Mass in May 2001 to see what I could turn up.  I traveled up to Marlboro, Mass to see the John Brown Bell, and I found the library had several of the original circulars in a rare bound volume.  The librarian there assisted me in searching the internet for a list of other libraries in the country that had original circulars in their collections.  From that point, the two of us made a determined effort to collect all of them.  I remember having to argue with a local university librarian, not a 1/2 hour from where I lived in CA, into making me copies of the several issues  in their collection.  Access to the rare book was limited to university students belonging to their consortium and it was off limits to me unless I shelled out a huge fee.  I belabored the clerk with the fact that probably no-one in 100 years was interested in seeing them, and here I was a few miles away, a descendant of a soldier in the regiment, and I couldn’t get access.  After about 40 minutes I convinced him to make copies for me.  And in this way, after 2 years we had copies of all of them, the last 3 came from the Library of Congress.  It was Greg’s idea to start a website to share what we had found. He registered the name because he wanted it to be an educational site, possibly a non-profit organization in the future.  His site was begun with one of those ‘proprietary’ internet website building kits, remember those?  Sign up for internet and get a free webspace !  But you used the host sites tools to do it and if you moved your account you lost your site…

Life intervened for Greg and although his passion for the regiment never died, the time to devote to it evaporated.  By then my research skills had caught up to his, and he handed the reins over to me.  And today’s site is the result.

I have lost touch with Greg.  I miss him.

The website has never strayed from its original format, which was to present an outline history of the regiment’s service with corresponding links to more detailed pages. 

My original purpose for the website was to generate interest in a book -  an anthology of stories I edited together in 2003, with the best materials from the circulars enhanced with soldiers’ letters and memoirs. The question was how much content to share?

I decided not to hold too much back and see what happens.  I believed these stories do not belong to me.   They belong to the veterans who lived them, and they would want as many people as possible to know what they did.

A quote from one of the last circulars:

Who will tell the world the story,When the “Boys in Blue” are gone?

And, what were the results of this policy?  My anthology was never published.  It garnered interest, but as one publisher put it, “We think that you have already found a wonderful way to make your work available to a wide audience at low cost.”  But there was a bigger reward unforeseen at the time.  

At the outset I created a list of photographs of soldiers and artifacts I hoped to find to accompany my proposed book.  I now have all of them and more.  I’ve met many helpful and devoted collectors who have gone out of their way to share materials with me.  Scott Hann was the first, he shared 80 images of company B men from his collection, and later gave me a notebook full of 8 x 10 b&w images of the same.  Joseph Maghe shared materials and information and even tipped me off when one of my own ancestor’s letters came up for sale on ebay.  If that wasn’t enough, I connected with descendants of the soldiers.  Many, like the family of John S. Fay, shared unpublished manuscripts and told me how John’s shattered rifle and other artifacts were still treasured and preserved among his many descendants.  A descendant of color bearer David Sloss, told me he still had a piece of the State Flag that Davy carried through many battles. There were many others, including the family of the author of the regimental history, Charles E. Davis, Jr.

 Then came the greatest rewards, and that was connecting with families of the soldiers and restoring their true historical legacy which had been lost or confused with the passage of time.  In one instance  a strong family bond between long lost cousins was re-established, both my contacts were descended from the same proud veteran James H. Lowell.  In return, these families shared what materials they had with me, and this makes the web history better.

Building the detail pages was fun at first, especially for the early war years when the regiment was posted in Western Maryland.   Their regimental history is virtually silent on that period  and I had so much material, that I had to edit what was posted to keep the pages from getting too long.  It was simply a matter of arranging and posting.   When the real campaigns began, more study was necessary, and the new pages required more work.  I spent a year and a half on 2nd Bull Run; three years on Gettysburg.  I learned to divide the pages into sections to include more material.  Its been a constant chore to keep moving forward with the chronology.  Ten years into it and I am only 2/3 done, and a little bit tired.

My original outline called for about 24 planned detail pages, to cover the entire 3 year history.  They were going to contain material from the circulars, but that is not the case now.  There are over 50 detail pages.  And my source material has grown so much that I could spend a long time updating older pages.  I have done this occasionally, but for the most part, I’ve decided the pages are still pretty good the way they stand.  There are two exceptions, I hope to add the story of George Bigelow’s tragic death to the Fredericksburg page and Bourne Spooner’s memoirs to both Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville pages - one day.

I’ll end this post now, and mention that 3 new pages were just added.  Naturally I think they are very good.  Its a Special Section, that doesn’t neatly fit into the chronology of the regiment’s history.  The theme of the section is “Around Washington” and it features the stories of 5 specific soldiers, Albert Liscom &  James Ramsey at Harewood Hospital,  George S. Cheney at Camp Convalescent, John B. Noyes travels through Washington in January and May, 1863 and William Rideout’s developing romance with a hometown girl while clerking for the Quartermaster Department in the city.  Incidentally, Mr. Rideout’s descendant has been a huge supporter of this project since its inception.

Here is the link.  I’m going to order a cake.  I’ll post a picture here later.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Gettysburg: The Last Moments of Frank Gould; Part 4, Martha Ehler's Memoir

This is the concluding part of 4 parts.  If you haven't read the other parts you can find them at the links provided.

Read Part 1 Here.

Read Part 2 Here.

Read Part 3 Here.


My immediate concern after deciding to use Capt. E. D. Roath’s letter of September 9, 1863, on my website, was to find appropriate pictures to accompany his long text. Searching for information on the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster County brought me to Vince Slaugh’s blog; “Lancaster At War.”

Vince collects primary source material on the 79th PA Vols. of Lancaster County and secondary subjects that support that topic. A post of July, 2013, titled “Donations Collected From Drumore For Patriot Daughters” provided me what I wanted; pictures and biographies of some real members of the Patriot Daughters, and a short description of their work.

Another link on Vince’s site led to a digitized edition of the 1863 memoir titled “Hospital Scenes After The Battle of Gettysburg.” The short booklet was authored by Patriot Daughter Martha Ehler. It was published in August, 1863, as a fund-raiser for the Daughters. In the book, Martha relates some of her experiences as volunteer nurse for 5 weeks, at a Gettysburg Field Hospital.

I was in no hurry to read the booklet, as Captain Roath’s letter caused me to believe the Patriot Daughters serviced several of the many hospital complexes around Gettysburg. Chaplain F. D. Ward, 104th NY, was posted at White Church Hospital in Mount Joy Township. And, it was Ward’s hospital that received supplies from the Patriot Daughters, as mentioned in Capt. Roath’s letter. But I was mistaken. It turned out that the Daughters shared their supplies with all who applied for assistance, but Martha did her 5 week stint as a nurse at Christ Church hospital on Chambersburg Street, where several wounded soldiers of the 13th Mass were sheltered.

In her memoirs Martha wrote:

“We had until now, 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’ men) designated by the white lozenge on a red flag.”

“…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.

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 butter toast making 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.”

I have in my library a booklet published by Christ Lutheran Church titled “A Sanctuary For The Wounded.” The church is very active in remembering its history. On weekends the church presents a program titled “Songs and Stories of a Civil War Hospital, Candlelight at Christ Church”

Nurse Martha Ehler is quoted heavily in both the booklet of remembrance and the musical program. Reading Martha’s memoirs of August, 1863, I suddenly made the connection, between the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster County, and the nurses narrative I had read about in the Church booklet.  I also have a recording of the Candlelight at Christ program.  But I had never been able to place a name to any “specific” soldiers in these accounts. The stories were usually generalized. But in her memoirs, Martha does get around to mentioning a few specific cases. Something struck me in particular in one of these passages.

Martha mentions the date July 16. That is the muster in date of the 13th Mass. Vols. at Fort Independence, in 1861.

Keep in mind, when reading the following narrative, that Frank A. Gould, Co. K, 13th Mass. was wounded in the hip and back. His mother lived in Southboro, Mass. and family lore claims it was she who brought her son’s body home to be buried there.

Also, that George E. Sprague, of the same regiment and company, was wounded in the chest, or lungs. Sprague had a wife and son back home.

And, that the two comrades died one day after the other, Frank going first.

Martha wrote:

“I recollect particularly being called about this time to minister to the wants of a young New England soldier; 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 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.

Around him, bathed in tears, stood the companions of many long marches, and hard fought battles, and by his side his nearest friend, who had shared his test 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 home. The relentless grave has closed over them, and the grass waves silently over their resting place; and when in after days we visited the spot, we placed on each a few summer flowers.” *

Francis A. Gould is reported to have died, July 14. George E. Sprague, is reported to have died on July 15. Both are listed as having been buried, in the Presbyterian Church Graveyard on their records of death.

Although the recorded dates of death are off a bit, I believe Martha was describing the last moments of these two comrades, (both mustered into service July 16, 1861),  who died a day apart.  In checking a list of known soldiers who died at Christ Church, provided to me by one of the participants in the Candlelight service, I find only Frank, and George, who belong to the same Regiment and Company, who died a day apart, during the time nurse Ehler was working at the church.

The significance of July 16, to the story, re-enforces this idea, but it is by no means conclusive. This list of soldier who died at the church is incomplete at best. But the coincidental evidence is strong. And, so far, I have not found another unit known to have been at the hospital with a July 16, 1861 muster in date.

For the record, here is a list of other 13th Mass soldiers known to have died at the Church Hospital. Records are from the 13th Mass roster, with notes from Christ Church.

Edward Church; age, 28; born, Derby, Conn.; carpenter; mustered in as private, Company E, July 16, 1861; killed July 3, 1863. Wounded in the left shoulder and chest. Died at Christ Church, (roster says July 3rd) 28 years old.

Horatio A. Cutting; age 44; born, Attleboro, Mass.; bootmaker; muster in as private, Company K, August 1, 1862; died of wounds received at Gettysburg, July 22, 1863. Shot in head, Died at Fort Schuyler, NY July 22d.

Prince A. Dunton; age 20, born, Hope, Maine; farmer; mustered in as private, Company H, July 16, 1861; died of wounds received July 1, 1863. Shot in the right hip and foot. Died July 1st or July 8.

Edwin Field; age, 20; born, Chelsea, Mass. clerk; mustered in as private, Company B, July 16, 1861; killed, July 1, 1863. Shot in left lung on July 1st Died at Christ Church July 2nd or 3.

John Flye; age, 29; born, New Portland, Maine; blacksmith; mustered in as private, Company K, July 16, 1861; died of wounds received at Gettysburg, July 26, 1863. Wounded severely in the leg and captured. The Confederate who captured him exchanged his own worn out gray pants for Flye’s blue pair.

Frank A. Gould; age, 20; born, Clinton, Mass; mechanic; mustered in as private, Company K, July 16, 1861; died of wounds received at Gettysburg, July 1, 1863. Wounded in hip. Died at Christ Church July 14th.

Michael O’laughlin; age, 21; born, Ireland; shoemaker; mustered in as private, Company K, July 16, 1861; died of wounds received at Gettysburg, October 8, 1863. Left leg fractured. Pleaded not to have the leg amputated because of his aged mother who was dependent upon him. The leg was removed but he died Nov. 8, at camp Letterman. Single, shoemaker.

George E. Sprague; age 27; born, Grafton, Mass.; shoemaker; mustered in as private, Company K, July 16, 1861; died of wounds received at Gettysburg, July 15, 1863. Shot in the right lung and forearm.

Martha Ehler recorded the dying moments of several brave soldiers in her memoirs. I believe this particular case is that of 13th Mass soldier Francis A. Gould, and his comrade in arms, George E. Sprague.

*This passage begins on page 20 of Martha's book.

Friday, November 24, 2017

Gettysburg, The Last Moments of Frank Gould - Part 3

This post is part 3 of 4 parts.  If you have not read the other parts you can access them at the links below.

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 2 here.

Read Part 4, the conclusion, here.

Part 3.

Company K of the 13th Mass was hit pretty hard at Gettysburg on Oak Ridge July 1, 1863.

Sgt. Austin Stearns of Company K wrote:

“The skirmishers in our front commenced a brisk fire when we were ordered to advance into a piece of woods; this we did, and the firing became general in our front.

"In advancing up, being near the turn in the line, the farther we advanced the greater would be the gap between the two regiments until there was quite a space, the other regiment partially facing the other way. On our left but a little ways off was a little hill, or knoll; this was occupied by the rebels, [who] seeing our exposed position fired directly down our line. This was a most fatal fire for us. Many of our brave boys fell at this time; we being so briskly engaged with those in front we had not noticed them till we received their fire. My place being near the right of the company, I turned to see what had been the effect on old K. The first thing I saw was Sergeant Wheeler laying on the ground but a short distance away. There being so much noise and din, I could not tell by looking at him how bad he was hurt, for I could hear no sound. I went up and spoke to him, but received no answer. I saw that he was shot through the head, the bullet striking him in the left temple, and the blood and brains were oozeing out.”

William R. Warner of Company K, was promoted 2nd Lieutenant the night before the engagement, and attached to Company G. Regarding the battle July 1, he recorded the following in his journal:

“Passing through the woods, we attempted to form a line at a stone wall – possibly we were halted there a few moments to allow stragglers to get up – then across an open field to another piece of woods, and hardly before we could realize it we were in the midst of a battle.

"I had thought very little about it, I mean in the matter of dwelling upon it, & dreading it, and when once engaged, had no time to think. My first impulse, was to pick up gun & some cartridges, and I loaded & fired several times. Sergeant Wheeler of Co. K. was almost the first man I saw struck. - He fell over backwards, a ball having ploughed his forehead – About the same moment, six or seven of the tallest men of Co. K, on the right were wounded, Harvey Ross, H. Cutter, John Flye, M. O. Laughlin, Melville Walker.”

Melvin Walker wrote:

“My position in the ranks was on the right of my Company K, which was on the left of the regiment.  Of the first eight men four were mortally and three severely wounded.  I was so fortunate as to be carried off the field by two comrades of the Twelfth Massachusetts, which regiment had just been relieved and was moving to the rear.”

Melvin Walker, Pictured right.

Doubtless, Frank Gould, was one of these wounded men and he was probably carried to the Christ Church Hospital, on Chambersburg Street where Austin Stearns found him the next morning.

It is stated that Frank was wounded in the back and hip, which is important to this story, and that he died July 14; the date also being important to this story.

I duly noted the ambiguity of Frank’s final resting place, when I built the ‘Gettysburg Casualties’ page of my website. The tale would have ended there if I had not stumbled upon a reference to the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster County.

To continue with my research of the 13th Mass Vols after the battle, I had to consider that their division and brigade were nearly destroyed in the first day’s fight at Gettysburg.

The 13th Massachusetts Volunteers took 260 men into the conflict on July 1st 1863, and reported only 79 men and 15 officers present the next morning. Primary source material in the regiment was getting scarce. So, going forward with my web history, following the battle, I decided to look to other regiments of their brigade, to fill out the story. For instance, Chaplain F. D. Ward of the 104th NY wrote home to a New York Newspaper, in a letter dated August 12:

“The 950 who passed through Washington sixteen months ago, are reduced to less than 90 !  And where are the absent ones ?  At Gettysburg 25 officers and privates were killed;  86 wounded;  94 prisoners and missing.  Total, 205.  At Bull Run, Antietam and Fredericksburg this “cruel war” found victims from among us.  A letter just in from Capt. Geo. Starr, of your city, now a prisoner at Libby Prison, Richmond, informs us that nine of the 104th are confined there — the prospect of an exchange at present not being favorable.

“The regiment is at present in command of Col. Prey, Captain and Acting Adjutant Van Dresser, Lieuts. McConnell, Trembley and Richardson, who, with Quartermaster Colt and Dr. Rugg and the Chaplain, constitute the entire field, staff and line force.  Nor is this an isolate case.  The 16th Maine and 13th Massachusetts, in our brigade, are in no better condition.“

Another source I took for a reference was a letter written by Captain E. D. Roath of the 107th PA Vols.

Roath’s long letter to the “Weekly Mariettian” newspaper, touched on a variety of subjects, but of particular significance to this story, is this passage regarding the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster county.

“The 104th N.Y. Volunteers is attached to our brigade; they received their initiative with us at Cedar Mountain ; they have participated with us at Rappahannock, Thoroughfare Gap, Bull Run, Chantilly, South Mountain, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville and Gettysburg; as soon as they crossed the Pennsylvania line, up went cheer after cheer for the Old Keystone, with a determination that the rebels must be driven from its soil;  and their conduct on the 1st, 2d, 3d and 4th days of July, in battle, confirmed their determination; the regiment suffered;  their wounded were placed in a hospital about four miles from the town ;  they were in want of the necessaries of life and comfort; fortunately that hospital and the wants of the suffering was suppled by the Patriot Daughters.  When the wounded and sick were informed that these comforts had been furnished by the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster county, tears of gratitude could be seen standing in the eyes of these bronzed veterans. Three cheers were given of God bless the Patriot Daughters of Lancaster county, for their act of kindness and help.  Dr. Ward, their Chaplain, then offered up a prayer, in which he kindly remembered the Daughters;  asking God’s blessing for them, and for Him to crown their efforts in the good work they have undertaken for the comforts of the soldier, and as a reward for their services in the righteous cause of humanity, they might enjoy a blessed immortality hereafter.  I felt that I was from Lancaster county, and such heart-felt expressions from strangers in praise of the ladies of my county, made me feel doubly proud.  The daughters’ work is developing itself; many suffering soldiers are made comfortable and buoyant with the oil and food of kindness sent by those ministering angels among them.  It is the soldier that can duly appreciate their works — and may they never be found wanting.”

This passage was just one short part of Capt. Roath’s letter. My immediate concern in positing the lengthy letter on my website, was to find pictures to go with it. The Patriot Daughters seemed like an interesting subject to learn more about, — and hopefully I could find a picture or two related to them to accompany the letter.

My interest was only very general at this point. I had no idea that looking into the Patriot Daughters would lead me back to Christ Church Hospital, and what I think is a detailed description of the last moments of Frank Gould and George Sprague, both of Company K; 13th Massachusetts Volunteers.

To be concluded tomorrow.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gettysburg: The Last Moments of Frank Gould, Part 2

This story is divided into 4 parts.   This is part 2 of 4.  You can access the rest of the story at the links below.

Read Part 1 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Read Part 4, the conclusion, here.

PART 2 - A Letter from Frank is Discovered

Seven years after my initial contact with Frank Gould's descendant "Nate," a letter written by Frank surfaced.  A collector friend of mine came upon it while corresponding with a colleague, who previously owned the item, then sold his collection to a Gettysburg Civil War artifacts dealer.  The former owner,  Mr. McHugh, really did his research and wrote up a profile of all the principal people mentioned in the letter, including Frank.

Here are Mr. McHugh’s notes followed by Frank’s letter:

Francis A. Gould, private, Company K, 13th Massachusetts Infantry, enlisted 7/16/61 and mustered 7/19/61, residence Southborough, age 20, mechanic, wounded in hip, 7/1/63 Gettysburg, PA and died of wounds 7/14/63 in hospital at Gettysburg, PA, born Clinton, MA, buried A-36 Massachusetts Plot, Gettysburg National Cemetery. (note: This is disputed and Frank is said to be interred at Southboro, MA —B.F.).

Joseph H. Hapgood, private, Company A, 15th Massachusetts Infantry, enlisted and mustered 7/24/61, residence Sterling, age 22, farmer, wounded 10/21/61, Ball’s Bluff, VA, transferred out 10/9/63 into 28th Company, Veteran Reserve Corps, 2nd Battalion, mustered out 7/19/64.

Luther M. Hapgood (this is the Uncle Luther who is the “replacement” for Joseph), private, Company A, 15th Massachusetts Infantry, enlisted and mustered 12/15/61, residence Leominster, age 42, farmer, discharged for disability 11/10/62.

Luther S. Hapgood (my guess is that the “S” stands for Sawyer as mentioned in the letter), private, Company A, 15th Massachusetts Infantry, enlisted and mustered 7/12/61, residence, Sterling, MA, age 24, farmer, POW 10/21/61 Ball’s Bluff, VA (gained), discharged for disability 10/30/62.

Luther S. Hapgood, private, Company K, 4th Massachusetts Heavy Artillery, mustered out 6/17/65 Washington, DC, born Sterling, MA, member GAR Post #53 in Leominster, MA, died 11/17/1923.

The letter was written in December, 1861, after six months service in the field picketing the Potomac River from Harper’s Ferry to Sharpsburg.  Company K had seen a little action by then, and Frank sums up his six months with the regiment pretty accurately.

Head Quarters 13th regt Mass Vol
Williamsport Md

Camp Jackson, Dec.29 1861

Dear Uncle and Aunt
As I have an optunity to wright a few lines I will improve it by writing to you. I have been thinking of righting to you for a long time but have not seen eny good chance before now. I left West Boylston the first of last April and went down home to Southboro. I staid at home Just a week. When I enlisted into the Company at Westboro, We drilled every day for 7 or 8 weeks when we was attached to the 13 regt. Col. Leonard at Fort - Independence The 29 of June we went to the Fort in Boston Harbor. We staid their first one month when we started for the seat of war. We [went] to Worcester by rail from their to New York from their to Philadelphia from their to Haggerstown Md Where we put up our tents and staid over night We started from their and went to Sharpsburg the distance being 15 miles we walked. it was our first march and we thought that we had a pretty hard time of it We staid at Sharpsburg a bout four weeks guarding the Potomac river to keep the Rebels from crossing the river. We left Sharpsburg and went to Middletown We staid their over night when we started for Harpers Ferry We staid their 10 weeks guarding the river as before H-Ferry is situated on the banks of the Potomac, but it is almost entirely distroyed by fire by Gen, Johnson it was government property so the rebels destroyed most of it when we left their we came to Williamsport where we still remain it is 27 miles from here to harpers Ferry to Williamsport We have been here nine weeks We are still quartered in our tents We have been in four or five skirmishes We have lost 7 or 8 men from our regt We had a brisk skirmish at the Ferry with a lot of rebel Cavalry We had six riffled cannons with us We drove the rebels of and come of Victorious We had four of our men killed in that battle.*

Williamsport is a large and beautiful town situated on the banks of the river the town is a secesh town and it is under a martial law our Col. is actin a Brigadere General now We have here in this camp at the present time the Maryland first regt the Indiana 12 the Ilinois Second the Mass, 13 regt eight Hundred Cavalry the Philadelphia batery of riffled cannons Bess's batery of Regulars is here. We are all in one camp and all are under our Col. his name is S.H. Leonard, We all like him very much. I have a letter from home quite often the folks are all well now but the two youngest have had the whooping Cough Hattie is still in Northboro running a Stiching machien in the same place where She has been for onne year and a half She is doing pretty well their  Addie is in Southboro doing house work She is well last Tuesday I received a letter from Charlotte Hapgood She said the folks wer all well at home except Joseph You have of course herd of his case. he was wounded at Balls Bluff uncle Luther Hapgood has gone to take his place I should not of thought he would of gone. Sawyer was taken prisoner and is at richmond Va I am sorry for him.

The fleet ther has gone down South does not seem to be doing much at the present time but it has been a terrible blow for the South. our forces have done a good thing in Missouri it is the greatest Victory we have had What do you think of the Mason and Slidell affair - Uncle. We do not think that England will interfear with the case What do you think a bout I do not think that the government will let them go. I hope that they will not for I think that they had better hang them then to let them go dont you think so. I think if England keeps still we will give these rebels all they want next Summer if not before I think by the way things look now that next Summer will tell the story Well as it is getting late I shall have to close

Please Except this from your Nephew
Francis A. Gould

I should be very much pleased to have you
answer This for I would like to hear
from you
Direct To
Frank A. Gould
Co. K 13th Mass Vol
Williamsport Md
Camp Jackson

*Battle of Bolivar Heights, October 16, 1861.  The killed were men from the 3rd Wisconsin.

The letter above gave a little insight into Frank Gould the person.  He wasn’t just a name any more.  I passed the letter on to Nate, Frank’s descendant, who told me it informed him of several other ‘relatives,’ the Hapgoods, he hadn’t  known about.  It was a bit more family history to look into.

I figure if there is one letter out there, there are surely more, and hope someday more of Frank Gould’s letters come to light.

To be continued.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Gettysburg: The Last Moments of Frank Gould; Part 1

The following story is serialized, in 4 parts, to better represent events as they unfolded.  This is Part 1.   The rest will follow daily, over the holiday.  It is a sad story but one I am grateful to be able to tell.

Happy Thanksgiving !

You can read part 2 here.

Read Part 3 here.

Read Part 4, the conclusion, here.


Nate contacted me shortly after I volunteered to be a helpful resource for people interested in the 13th Mass regiment.   This was long before my friend and fellow 13th Mass. researcher, Greg Dowden, conceived our regimental website,   I had signed onto a reference/database site now defunct, called "Civil War Units," which I believe, was maintained by LSU, and Nate was one of my earliest contacts.

He was himself a Civil War re-enactor, with the 1st New Hampshire Cavalry, and was skilled at riding and shooting.  Connections to other ancestors who fought and died in the Civil War had planted the ‘bug’ early in his life.

His ancestor Francis A. Gould of Company K, was killed at Gettysburg.    Family lore held that Frank was wounded July 1, 1863, at Gettysburg.   The official record according to Nate, is that “he was wounded in the hip, lay in the field into the night, was removed to a field hospital and there died the next day.     …He is buried in Southboro, Massachusetts.”  Some other reports were contradictory and said Gould died July 1st.   Nate was looking for clarification of the family history.

The roster in the Regimental history only states that Frank Gould, “died of wounds received July 1, 1863.”

He was extremely happy to learn from me,  about Austin Stearns's published memoirs, “Three Years with Company K,”  and immediately purchased a copy.   In his memoirs, Sergeant  Stearns writes that he found Frank Gould, one of the wounded of Company K, interred at the Church Hospital on Chambersburg Street.   On the morning of July 2nd, after sharing a meagre breakfast with a friend,  Stearns’s wrote:

“I then went into the church to see the boys.  I found there in addition to 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.”

This at least confirms Frank lived a short while beyond his wounding July 1st.

Nate was naturally very excited to get this bit of information, as he had no idea of being so successful in his query.   At the time we were both well pleased.   Information on soldiers, from primary sources,  is not always that readily available!   This all happened  in April, 2001.

Where is Frank really buried? That is the 2nd part of the mystery.

There is a stone marker with his name in the Massachusetts section of the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, [pictured, below]  but family lore says he is buried in Southboro, Massachusetts.    Nate told me he had been there and seen the grave.   I confirmed this report many years later when I was working on the "Gettysburg Casualties" page of my website,

 On October 12, 2016, I called the Southborough Rural Cemetery, in Worcester County, Mass.  They have in their records Frank A. Gould, who was interred at the cemetery July 14, 1863; Section 3, Lot 20.

I included this information on the “Gettysburg Casualties” page of my website, and figured I had done a pretty good job with the story but there was surprisingly, more to come.  Some of it truly remarkable.

To be continued...

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Thoughts on 2nd Bull Run and the mystery of William H. Baker's death

155th Anniversary

On Saturday, August 26, I travelled up to Manassas to tour Chinn Ridge with a park historian for the 155th Anniversary of the battle of 2nd Bull Run.  The walk was to cover the Union armies defense of the ridge, as well as the progress of Longstreet’s massive flank attack that drove the Federals off of it on August 30, 1862.  During the fight, the Federals on the ridge were surrounded on three sides, and outnumbered by at least 3 to 1. The 13th Regiment lost 48 killed, of about 500 soldiers present at this action, -- the first active fighting in a major battle during their service.  It had been a long time to wait considering they had mustered in more than a year earlier.  As Austin Stearns described it,

"...we went through a field and up  a slight elevation and there was a sight to behold.  Longstreets corps was advancing in line of battle or in lines, for there was three or four, and to our eyes the field was full of men.  Firing immediately commenced, not only with us but all along the line by both sides; men commenced to fall;  ...On, still on, came the heavy lines of Longstreet's Command; no single line could stop them long, and gradually our line was being forced back, although we gave them a brave resistance and contested every inch of ground..."
After this fiasco the men were less anxious than before to see action than they had been prior to this "scrap,"— as some called it.

I was joined at the battlefield walk by a fellow researcher; renowned in the field of photographic jewelry and other topics, and on both of our minds that day was the story of 13th Mass soldier William Henry Baker, of Weymouth.

My colleague's interest in Baker began with the purchase of a 19th century sewing box, exquisitely built, with a note inside proclaiming it the handy work of William Henry Baker.

Baker, born March 23, 1842,  delayed a Harvard education to enlist as a recruit in the 13th Mass. Vols. the summer of ’62.  He was a talented young man, 5’8” tall, blond hair and blue eyes,  already accomplished for his skill in woodworking and other crafts. Unfortunately I don't have his photograph.

Remarkably, Baker’s 1860 diary exists in the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, and it documents his progress on the box.

"February 16, 1861.  “Worked on boxes for ambrotype taken.  Am going to have photographs taken.”
February 21, 1861. “Got my pictures this eve.”
My friend has done extensive research on the box and Baker.  William Henry as he liked to be called, was close to his sister Mary Ellen, who liked to sew, and it is supposed the box was intended to be used for her sewing kit.

  His other activities included school, reading, studying, attending temperance meetings, debate clubs, patriotic recruitment meetings, and woodworking.

He was accepted to the Freshman Class at Harvard University, slated to begin his studies on August 5, 1862, for which  he had prepped for months.  Harvard University Faculty records of a Special Meeting held, July 15, 1862 list the names of new students, and includes a  later update that lists at least 5 out of 55 total, including Baker, who did not show up. William Henry Baker chose to enlist instead!

Mary Ellen Baker, his younger sister was engaged to marry Captain Elliot C. Pierce; a conspicuous member of the Field & Staff of the 13th Mass.  Elliot joined the regiment at Fort Independence, Boston, rather too late to gain an officer’s commission.  But he was a friend of Colonel Leonard, and quickly advanced from Sergeant-Major to 1st Lieutenant, Company H, in early 1862, and Captain of that company very soon after.  Favoritism was suspected among the 10 Second-Lieutenants in line of promotion, that Eliot ‘jumped’ over.  Yet, it was agreed he was a good man, and he made an enviable military service record with the regiment. You can read more about him here.

Did William Henry’s relationship to Elliot influence his decision to enlist, or was it simply the patriotic fervor of the time that motivated him, or was it both?  Patriotic speeches and rallies were prevalent in the summer of '62.  The biography of Samuel S. Gould, another remarkable young man from Harvard, who joined the 13th Mass concurrently with Baker, states he [Gould] was very active at war rallies, encouraging his peers to enlist.  You can read about Gould here.  
 The recruits arrived in two groups.  Baker was in the first group of about 70 men that unfortunately arrived at the regiments' campground on Monday, August 18, 1862;  for this was the day that commanding General John Pope, learned the enemy across the Rapidan River had been heavily re-enforced and was planning an attack.  His army was in a trap and he had better make tracks or risk annihilation. Just as the recruits were meeting their new comrades in arms, orders came to march.  Fellow recruit, Clarence Bell gives an inside look at the passing scenes in his post-war memoir.

“As we marched into camp the Thirteenth boys came out from their tents to greet and welcome us to the field. All seemed heartily glad to see us, nearly every one of us finding acquaintances, school-mates or former "chums" in the ranks. The Regimental Band gave us a harmonious reception and Chaplain Gaylord welcomed us on behalf of the Colonel. Among other words of advice he cautioned us to beware of the wiley veterans and not allow them to "play points" on us; that our bright new dippers were very attractive to their eyes and might tempt them to make invidious suggestions of barter.
The recruits were, generally, permitted to select the companies to which they wished to be assigned, and the squad having been thus distributed, all began to adjust themselves to the new conditions.
"We were just beginning to be rested and fairly comfortable when orders came to strike camp and make ready for marching. It took but a few minutes to level the tents, or ponchoes, and, while waiting for further orders we cooked suppers and "turned in" near the camp fire and slept till about eleven o'clock. We left camp and after marching a few miles, halted on a muddy road, where we remained till morning, getting no sleep, for we expected the word "forward" every moment. The boys built fires, made coffee and with the ever ready pipe, stories, jokes and witty sayings the night was passed. Next morning we began the famous "masterly retreat” of Major-General John Pope. We passed through Culpeper and continued our march, with occasional rests, till nine o'clock P.M., when we arrived at Rappahannock Station; crossed the railroad bridge and after some maneuvering  went into camp. It was a hard march, especially for those who were so unaccustomed to it, the most tiring part of which occurred after dark, when obstacles in the road were invisible, causing us to stumble over stumps or stones, compelling frequent and somewhat strong expletives.
"At noon the regiment crossed the river and formed in line of battle, while the recruits were ordered to remain in the rear, where beneath the trees we passed the night somewhat anxiously. We were not to be engaged in battle (if one took place) except in case of need. Our number was insignificantly small, we were totally inexperienced and none had received arms, equipments or ammunition, yet many were anxious to take part, while several volunteered to assist in supporting and working the batteries.”
The recruits continued to suffer along with the veterans through General Pope’s bungling helter-skelter marches of the next two weeks, always in fits and starts, and with little to no food or rest, until the climatic battle of Second Manassas signaled the end of the campaign.  Baker was killed in the battle.  How and why Baker was caught in the action is unknown, as Clarence Bell wrote, the unarmed recruits were not yet required to fight.

“With an early start next morning we continued march till eight P.M., when we camped near the old battlefield of Bull Run. August 30th in column we moved forward a short distance, when we entered a grove and deposited our knapsacks for safe (?) keeping.  In the afternoon the Brigade advanced and ascended the hill on our left. The recruits (who had not as yet been supplied with arms or accoutrements) kept up with the regiment until reaching the brow of the hill, when the attack of the enemy became so hot that all were obliged to drop for safety. As the shot and shell came thicker and faster the recruits returned down the hill, when we were challenged several times by mounted rear guards and ordered to return to our regiment, but our explanation that we were "raw recruits" without arms or equipments, and our new appearance confirming our statement, we were permitted to pass; furthermore, in the intense excitement prevalent at the moment, orders could not be, or were not strictly enforced. We "retired in good order," getting out of the range of the messengers of death that whizzed and buzzed over our heads and about us."

Neither my colleague nor I, have found any details on Baker’s death.  The only ominous hint of it occurs in a letter written by her brother's friend, William Clark to Mary Ellen Baker, regarding her fiancĂ©’s wound.  Elliot Clark Pierce was wounded August 30, just above the left hip bone and was left untreated until the 31st.  He was sent to Burrows (Metropolitan)  Hotel in Washington and attended by Surgeon Clymer of the 13th Mass. Volunteers.  William Clark wrote:

Browns Hotel, Washington

Noon.  Thursday Sept 4th 1862
Miss Mary E. Baker,
I arrived here this morning at 8 o’clock.  Eliot is quite comfortable, being without fever since last evening – and having good quarters and attendance.  His wound is in an uncomfortable place on the left side where every motion of his body hurts him.  On my entrance to his room this morning I found him sitting upon the edge of the bed..  He is in excellent spirits and I shall use my best efforts to obtain a pass from the Provost Marshall to enable him to get home.  I learn with much regret that among the missing is the name of your brother, he is not wounded or killed, as all of both are accounted for.  He will probably come in either as a straggler or paroled prisoner.  Every hour brings them to light.

If I am able, it will be my plan to get to South Braintree by Sunday Morning train.  With regards to your mother + sister, to Mr. and Mrs. Pierce, your friend and servant,
William L. Clark

 Pierce returned home to recuperate, and married Mary Ellen on October 29, 1862.  Baker, of course, never came in. He is buried in Weymouth at Village Cemetery, the same place where Elliot was laid to rest many years later.  Baker was one casualty among many.