Friday, April 29, 2011

Blog in Real Time - April 29, 1861 - Post #8

April 29, 1861
 From the Regimental History:
     While this work was going on(organizing companies A, B, and D ) John Kurtz and others were engaged in recruiting a third company, which was subsequently known as Company C, with an election of officers which occurred on the 29th of April, 1861 as follows:
Captain .....John Kurtz. (pictured)
First Lieutenant .....William H. Jackson.
Second Lieutenant .....William M. Chase.
Third Lieutenant .....Joseph S. Cook.
Fourth Lieutenant .....Walter H. Judson.

Natick, Mass. raised a company of rifles which became Company H, of the 13th Mass. Vol. Inf.  The town officially opposed the expansion of slavery into the new territories since the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
The following is from "The History of Middlesex County" by Duane Hamilton Hurd.

     Beginning Of The Great Rebellion Movement.— April 3, 1854, the town had adopted the following resolutions, reported by its committee, John W. Bacon, chairman :

“Whereas, the bill now before Congress for the organization of the Territories of Kansas and Nebraska proposes to repeal so much of the Act of March 6, 1820, as forever prohibiting slavery north of 36° 30' In the Louisiana purchase — Be It therefore

" Resolved, That the inhabitants of Natick in town-meeting assembled do solemnly protest against the passage of said bill because

"1st. It will violate the plighted faith of the nation.

"2d. Because it will allow African Slavery to enter into 480,000 square miles of territory, from which it has been excluded for thirty years.

"3d. Because It will tend to keep out of these territories the farmers, mechanics and workingmen of the free States and the poor men of the stave States now oppressed and degraded by African Slavery who would rear in these territories free Institutions for all.

"4th. Because it will tend to increase the influence of Slavery over the policy of the national government.

     Thus early did this town commit itself to the cause of human liberty against the encroachments of slavery, in the fearful contest which the wisest and most patriotic all over the North and West foresaw was impending.
April 29, 1861, the town appropriated $5000 to be expended under the direction of the selectmen, for the benefit of the families of such citizens of the town as may serve in the impending war.

     The selectmen at that time were Willard Drury, William Edwards and C. B. Travis.

     Leonard Winch, Deacon John Travis and John Cleland, Jr., were chosen a committee to consider "the wants of those citizens who may volunteer their services for the impending war." May 7, 1861, the town authorized the selectmen to pay for the uniforms of the Mechanic Rifle Company, of Natick, to the amount of $1000. It was also voted that each volunteer soldier should be furnished with one rubber camp blanket, and one pair of woolen stockings and each commissioned officer and musician with a revolver. Also the town appropriated $500 to furnish arms, equipments and clothing to volunteers, if called into actual service. July 17, 1861, the town voted to raise the sum of $10,000, in aid of the families of volunteers, and at the same time appropriated $1400 to meet expenses already incurred and to carry out contracts already made with volunteers.

     Westboro's Rifle Company Mustered into the federal service as Company K, 13th Mass. Vol. Inf.
From the History of Westborough, Massachusetts:

     A company was organized, known as the Westborough Rifle Company, and was chartered on April 29 as Massachusetts Volunteer Militia.  It numbered seventy-nine men.  But before the time came of going into camp, the announcement came that the Government could accept no more volunteers for three months' service.  The company was accordingly re-organized, with a view to enlisting for three years. It lost, in consequence, nearly half its members ; but recruits kept joining from day to day, and before its departure (June 29) the company contained one hundred and one men.  Of the total number, Westborough furnished fifty-six men ; Southborough, eighteen ; Upton, nine ; Shrewsbury, nine ; Hopkinton, eight ; and Northborough, one.

     Several weeks were spent in drilling and equipping the company, during which it made marches to several of the surrounding towns.  "Sumptuous dinners, patriotic speeches by town magnates, and the blessings of the fathers and mothers," in the words of one of their number, "were everywhere showered upon the volunteers."

     Calvin Chamberlain, a resident of California, but a native of Westborough, showed his interest in their welfare by presenting each man with a dagger ; and on the company's visit to Upton, each member was presented with a drinking-tube by the Hon. William Knowlton.

The following is from Sgt. Austin C. Stearns Memoirs, "Three Years with Company K." Edited by Arthur Kent, 1976,  Fairleigh Dickinson Univ. Press.

     The Spring of '61 found the South arrayed against the North.  A Confederacy was formed with Jefferson Davis for it's President. Richmond, Va. was it's capital.

     Fort Sumter had fallen and the little army of the United States was treacherously surrendered, leaving President Lincoln no other alternative than to call on the loyal people to maintain the supremacy of the laws and the integrity of the Union.

     A proclamation was issued calling for seventy five thousand men, and the loyal, regardless of party, quickly responded.   A living stream then commenced to flow from the North, which abated not, but increased in volume for four long years, till secession was conquered and peace was declared in our land.

     My native town failing to raise a company and hearing that Westboro wanted a few more men to make her company full, six of us Bear Hill boys came over and offered ourselves.  We were voted in and commenced to drill immediately. The company was already formed, with the following named officers:  for Captain, William P. Blackmer  (Methodist Minister), First Lieut., Charles P. Winslow (Expressman). 2nd Lieut., Ethan Bullard (Carpenter), 3rd Lieut., John Sanderson (Carpenter),  4th Lieut., Abner Greenwood.  The Company was known as the "Westboro Company,"  but men from Shrewsbury, Southboro, Hopkinton, and Upton were in its ranks.

Memoirs of George Kimball (12th Mass) 
     Kimball joined the Tigers, but eventually enlisted in 12th Mass., but other members of the "Tigers" including Surgeon Allston Whitney and James F. Ramsey, joined the 13th Mass.

In the early part of April, there being indications that Uncle Sam was about to awaken from his lethargy, I joined the Second Battalion of Infantry, familiarly known to Bostonians as the “Tigers.”  Our armory was in old Boylston Hall, and here, night and day, was heard the tramp of feet and the clatter of arms as the embryo soldiers learned their lessons. My captain was the late proprietor and publisher of The Boston Journal. Col. Charles O. Rogers, and a more generous, patriotic man it was never my good fortune to meet. He was a super  soldier, too, and had he found it possible to forsake the engrossing cares of his great newspaper for the tented field, he would doubt less have won a place among the foremost heroes of the age.
     The Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Regiments went to the front, and orders came for the Fourth Battalion (New England Guards), commanded by Major Thomas G. Stevenson, afterward Colonel of the Twenty-fourth and a Brigadier General, and who fell at Spottsylvania at the head of a division, to garrison Fort Independence, and for the Second Battalion ("Tigers"), commanded by Major Ralph W. Newton, to proceed to Fort Warren.  Both organizations had been stationed at Boylston Hall.
     Some delay occurred, out on the 29th of April the "Tigers" were let loose, 250 strong, and, headed by Gilmore's Band, we marched to the wharf, where we took a steamer for the fort .  All along the route we were cheered to the echo, and we were very proud to be looked upon as defenders of Old Glory.
     In time of peace garrison duty is doubtless very dull music, but with a great war opening and events daily transpiring which excited their enthusiasm to the highest pitch, the 250 men of the Second Battalion of Infantry found life at Fort Warren exceedingly pleasant. The fort was comparatively new and had never before been occupied by troops. Piles of rubbish of every kind incumbered not only the spacious parade ground, but every casemate and every nook and corner was filled with it.  So we set to work with a will to put our house in order and had manual labor galore.  Twas interesting to see professional men, merchants, clerks and others as busy as bees with shovel and wheelbarrow and broom, while song and jest and heartiest laughter rose continually as an accompaniment.

Letter of James Ramsey
James Ramsey eventually enlisted in the 13th Mass. Co. E.  But at this time he was with Private Kimball, at Fort Warren, with the 'Tigers," or 2nd Battalion.  Ramsey's letters were shared with me by his family descendants. 

Fort Warren April 29, 1861

Dear Mother  I am safe and like my quarters well    I am pressed for time and cannot write much    If it is convenient I should  like to have fathers valice with my rubber coat   I should like to have a revolver case father can buy one and send it down to morrow in the valice and any other thing you would like to send  give my love to all kiss Hugh for me      father can carry  the valice to the armory and it will get to me     I will want  my name put on it or a card glued on   from your son

                                               J.F. Ramsey,

Good by don’t worry

P.S. send my suspenders and a small blank book to keep an account, send me at towel and comb and a  lead Pensil quick.

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