Friday, April 23, 2010

Who Are These Guys ?

      My friend Eileen, who runs a great site on the  26th Pa. Vols. just sent me a picture of Walter E. Swan 13th Mass, Co. A.    On back of the image it says, Walter S. Swan,  40th  N.J. Cavalry.  Walter S. Swan was a soldier in that unit.  Is this Walter E. or Walter S ?  The name faintly written in light pencil at the top looks to me like Walter E. Swan.  Also the frock coat uniform is probably more typical of an infantryman than a cavalryman; the color of the trim, blue for infantry, yellow for cavalry,  is hard to discern.  The photo was take in Boston.  I think someone erred when they added the N.J. Cavalry designation, and this is Walter E. Swan of the 13th Mass.

     Here is Swan's record from the roster:
WALTER E. SWAN ; age, 18; born, Charlestown, Mass.; clerk; mustered in as priv., Co. A, Aug. 4, '62; mustered out, Nov. 24, '62; residence, Boston, Mass.

     Walter E. Swan was Secretary of the 13th Massachusetts Regiment Association in its later years, 1918 - 1922.  In Circular #32, Sept. 1919, Swan wrote an account of George H. Maynard, the only member of the 13th Mass. who received a Medal of Honor.  Swan wrote the following personal experience in Circular 33; Sept., 1920:

     "It was my lot after being wounded, to be sent with hundreds of others from the Bull Run battle field, first to Washington, where I spent a couple of days at the Carver hospital, and then to Philadelphia.  When we arrived at the latter city we were conveyed to the different hospitals in ambulances belonging to the Fire department which in those days were very handsome being painted in an elaborate manner.  I happened to be taken to a hospital at the corner of Fifth and Buttonwood Streets a large six-story building formerly Dunlap’s carriage factory.  This hospital accommodated some four hundred patients and was filled to the maximum.  Each ward had from sixty to seventy single cots so near together that one could reach out on either side and touch his neighbor’s cot.  The nurses were all men and while they were not always over careful in handling wounded patients, still they took fairly good care of them.  As I had the use of my legs and was in good health I spent very little time in the hospital excepting nights.  I would get a pass each day after having my wound dressed, which allowed me to be out until 8 o’clock p.m.  As I was only a kid of eighteen years (?) and very boyish looking, with my right arm in a sling, I seemed to attract a great deal of attention from the many kind ladies whom I would meet on the streets and I was flooded with invitations every day to visit their homes.  I therefore made many delightful acquaintances and spent many happy hours with some of the best families in that city.  My Yankee manner of talking always seemed to please them, and likewise some of their peculiar accents and expressions in conversation were very pleasing to me.  I received my discharge on the 24th of November, 1862, and reached my home in Dorchester, Mass., on a Thanksgiving morning.  In March, 1864, I again enlisted as a recruit in the Eleventh Mass. Battery, but was rejected at the Long Island rendezvous in Boston Harbor on account of my former wound.  Perhaps it was all for the best as I might have got it worse a second time, though I was mightily disappointed when rejected."
Walter E. Swan

Another Photo
      Here is a well known image of the regiment, that I have seen reproduced many times in periodicals.  It appeared in Francis Trevelyan Miller’s 10 Volume “Photographic History of the Civil War,” in 1911. I have never seen the men identified.  “Soldiers of the 13th Mass in Camp” is usually the caption to this photo, sometimes Williamsport is added.  Second Lieutenant Charles B. Fox of Company K, is identified, seated at right,  but who are the others pictured?  The subject index attached to this image at the on-line Carlisle Massachusetts MOLLUS database, lists the following names: Charles B. Fox, John G. Hovey, and I. Hall Stimpson.   Fox, (company K) and Hovey (company B) were officers, Stimpson was a corporal in Co. C.  Here is Fox’s record from the roster:

CHARLES BARNARD FOX; age, 28; born, Newburyport, Mass.; freight agent; mustered in as 2d lieut., Co. K, July 16, '61; mustered out as 1st lieut., Dec., '62; promoted to 1st lieut., Aug. 16, '62; appointed 1st lieut., 2d Mass. Cavalry, Dec. 1, '62; maj., 55th Mass., June 1, '63; lieut.-col., Dec. I, '63; brev. col., U.S. Vols., March 13, '65; residence, Boston.

John G. Hovey
 As I said, the name John G. Hovey is attached to the index for this page of photos at the Carlisle website.  First Lieutenant John G. Hovey of Company B, was promoted captain of Co. E in January of 1862, around the time this photo was taken.  (The photographer was active in the regiment from November, '61 - Feb. '62.)   The man seated, left, in the photo could be Hovey but I'm not sure.  The fellow in the Carlisle photo seems to have more of an upturned nose, while Hovey's is down-turned.   There is a hint of a shoulder strap on his uniform and I don’t see any corporal stripes on his sleeve (which would be Stimpson) but its hard to say all around. There are other photos attached to this record at Carlisle, so the reference to Hovey could mean something else.   His record from the roster:

JOHN G. HOVEY ; age, 33; mustered in as 1st lieut., Co. B, July 16, '61; resigned as capt., Jan. 7, '64; promoted to capt., Jan. 31, '62; residence, Philadelphia, Pa.

Here are a couple of photographs of Hovey with which to compare to the seated man at left.

   First Lieutenant John G. Hovey, of Company ‘B’, switched companies and replaced Charles R. M. Pratt as Captain of Company ‘E’.  John Noyes wrote of Hovey:  “He is a very gentlemanly officer and I am afraid is to be appointed Captain of Co. E.”  Noyes was sorry to lose a good officer to another company.

     Hovey’s appointment did not go over well with the Roxbury boys in Company E.  Joseph Colburn, the 1st Lieutenant of Company E, tendered his letter of resignation to Col. Leonard when Hovey's promotion was announced.  Col. Leonard must have made Colburn reconsider because Colburn did not resign, and continued to serve as 1st Lieutenant of Company ‘E’ under Captain John G. Hovey.

     I don’t have any images of Isaac Hall Stimpson. But he may be the gentleman in the tent -barely visible (behind the seated gentleman on the left).  Here is Stimpson's record:

ISAAC HALL STIMPSON; age, 22; born, Hillsboro', Ill.; clerk; mustered in as corp., Co. C, July 16, '61; died of wounds, Oct. 8, '62.

 Chandler Robbins
   Who might that bushy haired man holding the plate be?  I just happen to have a similar image from the archives of the Westborough Historical Society.  All the images at the Historical Society are labeled.  This image is from the book “On the Beaten Path” by Kristine Nilson Allen; published by the Westborough Civic Club and Westborough Historical Society  in 1984.

     That’s private Chandler Robbins of company K, center,  holding the plates & standing next to - Lt. Fox (again!) and First Lt. William B. Bacon.(both of Co. K).  The pose and the clothes match, and so does that bushy beard!  I think its a pretty good bet that Robbins is the man standing on the left in that photo from Carlisle.  His record from the roster:

CHANDLER ROBBINS ; age, 41; born, Plymouth, Mass.; wheelwright; mustered in as priv., Co. K, July 16, '61; mustered out, Aug. 1, '64; detailed as hospital steward; taken prisoner at Fitzhugh Hospital, opposite Fredericksburg; died, April 11, 80.

     I have two other images of Robbins, an interesting fellow, but the two images couldn’t be more diverse  In one, he is a clean-shaven civilian, in the other, a dapper soldier, with bushy beard, posing in his Scottish cap with his rifle by his side.

     I happen to have part of Robbin's lengthy obituary, which is interesting because he was an original "forty-niner" in California's gold rush!

WESTBORO CHRONOTYPE, (date unknown -Robbins died April 11, 1880.)

      Another of Westboro’s well-known and beloved citizens has been removed by death.  Chandler Robbins, the veteran undertaker, died on Sunday evening last, from cancer of the liver, after an illness of several weeks.  Mr. R. was born in Plymouth in 1819, where he learned the trade of a wheelwright, and removed to Westboro about forty years ago. He was one of the “forty-niners,” going out to California via the Straits of Magellan, on the first ship fitted at Boston for the then new gold regions.  He was connected with Fremont surveying party there, which was led by the famous path-finder Kit Carson. In the two years of his absence he had a varied experience, which included surveying, mining and exploring, and a few hours captivity among the Indians.  On his return trip, via the Isthmus, the train which carried the proceeds of his labors was robbed, leaving Mr. R. little but his experience.  His descriptions of what he saw in South America and California furnished many interesting stories for friends at home.

At the breaking out of the rebellion in 1861 Mr. Robbins was among the first who responded to the call of country.  He enlisted in Co. K, 13th Mass. Vols., and was detailed at once for hospital service. The skill and care he devoted to his labors among ht sick and wounded, both on the field, amid shot and shell, and in the hospital and camp, preserved valuable lives that otherwise would have been lost to country and friends.  Three times he was taken prisoner, being twice paroled on the field and once after a short confinement in Libby Prison.  His work brought him in contact with high officials, many whom owe much to the careful nursing he gave them, and they will learn with regret of the death of their old comrade, to whose efficiency and zeal they have testified in flattering terms.

     During Mr. R.’s early years in Westboro he worked at sleigh-making, and was afterward auctioneer and commission merchant for a short period.  After the war closed he established a furniture store here, and engaged in the business to some extent to the time of his last sickness, in connection with upholstering and repairing. 

(Some of the article is missing).

     Mr. R. was of a pleasant, genial nature, and a man of strict integrity of character who was always ready to give what assistance he could to his fellow men and do a neighborly act.  Consequently he had many friends and few, if any, enemies.

     In 1842 he married Miss Frances M. Mellen of Westboro, who survives him.  Five children were the fruits of their union, only two of whom are now living - Arthur W., of this village, and John B., of Stonington, Conn..

The article continues describing the funeral service followed by several resolutions passed by his comrades in Co. K, 13th regiment that attended his funeral.

     To conclude this lengthy photographic discussion, I think the men in the camp photo from Carlisle are, Chandler Robbins, priv. Co. K;  John G. Hovey, (?), 1st-lieut. Co. B, (later Capt. Co. E); possibly Isaac Hall Stimpson, Co. C,  behind him, and 2nd-lieut. Charles B. Fox, Co. K.

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