American Tract Society.

The color-bearer: Francis A. Clary online

. (page 1 of 5)
Online LibraryAmerican Tract SocietyThe color-bearer: Francis A. Clary → online text (page 1 of 5)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


CCfarj, h
CoAr- bearer






| % L



Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by the
American Tract Society, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court
of the United States for the Southern District of Ne-v York.



Earliest Years - 5


Plans for Enlistment - 10

Leaving Home- - - 22

In Camp 28


Sailing Southward 37


rH At New Orleans 43


igfo At Fort Jackson 54

Days of Usefulness - 70



The Colors Kesigned . 79

Tributes to the Soldier and the Christian 91

Conclusion - 101




Francis Amsden Clary, son of Deacon John
Clary, was born at Conway, Mass., Aug. 19,

His mother died when he was but two
weeks old, leaving the request that her babe
should be "trained up for God," that he
should become " a preacher and a mission-
ary to China." Truth-loving and conscien-
tious, he grew up under the influence of a
quiet country life, beautiful scenery, and a
religious home; and so situated, it does not
seem strange that he early understood and
accepted the responsibilities of a Christian.

At the age of twelve, it seemed to himself
and to others that he had yielded heart and
life to the control of the Holy Spirit, and he


became at tliat time a member of the church
in his native village.

When the disclosure of his mother's con-
secration was made to him, the fervor of re-
ligions impulse seemed deepened within him,
and his earnestness increased, te> become wor-
thy of such a mother and such a consecration.

He adopted that wish as the settled pur-
pose of his heart, a purpose that never wa-
vered until his country's call grew more im-
perative than that of China : then the same
heroic determination which had given him
his first strong and clearly defined motive
took a new form ; the same martyr spirit that
impelled him to lay down his life for the
needs of a distant nation, led him to sacrifice
it for the maintenance of his own.

Until the age of nineteen he remained at
home, working upon his father's farm.

He then went through a course of study
at the Westfield Normal school, and after a
brief interval of teaching, studied two years
at Meriden, N. H., in preparation for entering
college. He was enthusiastic in the pursuit
of knowledge, as bearing on the deeper pur-
pose of his life. He writes home from Meri-


clen thus: "My studies' dry? No, indeed, a
stream of pleasure from Monday morning till
Saturday night. The toil is incessant, but
very sweet. Thus I am preparing to go
about my Master's business."

At Amherst, where he began his college
course in September, 1859, the same ardor,
combined with system and steady resolution,
characterized him. Towards the close of the
first year his health failed, and physicians
and friends advising rest and change of air,
he made an excursion to Labrador with some
acquaintances who were about establishing a
Mission house at Caribou Island. He assist-
ed in the work, and the voyage proved bene-
ficial to him, so that he soon returned to his
studies with spirits refreshed and health re-

In so hasty an outline of his early years >
we can pause but a moment to notice the
prominence of disinterestedness arid active
benevolence as traits in his character. While
at Meriden and at Amherst, he was in the
habit of visiting district schools in his imme-
diate vicinity, and exhibiting to the children
curious and remarkable objects which he had


collected, for their amusement and instruc-
tion. He took a deep personal interest in
the sick, the afflicted, and the dying, and
spent much time in visiting them, both dur-
ing intervals of school duty, and in his va-
cations at home, ministering to the wants of
body and soul. To such a man the appeal of
a stricken nation could not be made in vain;
and he was one of those early accounted wor-
thy to suffer and to die in so noble a cause
as that of a nation's deliverance.

The time of his return to, college was April,
1861, the month memorable in our country's
annals as the date of the outbreak of the
great rebellion. The Union found itself, with-
out warning or preparation, plunged at once
into the abyss of war. The shock which
stunned the nation aroused also its latent
energies. Young and old, the first-born and
the darling Benjamin, offered themselves at
once and freely to defend the nation's honor
and maintain its existence. In schools and
colleges the excitement was especially felt,
and Amherst college was one of the first to
offer the aid of its young men as volunteers ;
an example of patriotism which has been well


sustained by the number and value of the
sacrifices it has constantly made.

From the first, young Clary's whole being-
was stirred by the summons. His prompt
response, his patient waiting for acceptance,
his enlistment, and his whole soldier history
are best told in his own words ; and from this
period, his correspondence will, so far as pos-
sible, continue the narrative of his life a life
too brief in its noble purposes and endeavors,
ever to be spoken of as "concluded" on




"Amherst College, April 22, 1861.

" Dear Friends As you may well suppose,
there is but little talked of or thought of but
war aud its attendant excitements. Even
now, between ten and eleven o'clock, I hear
the beating of the drum in the distance. We
have been marching to music, listening to
Union speeches, and assisting at flag raisings.

"Our President made a stirring speech to
us at prayers on Sunday morning. He said
he was in Boston the day before, and wit-
nessed the fearful excitement there, and added
that he was willing to go forth to defend our
country's cause, should he be needed. Prof.

C has gone to see the governor to-day,

about providing arms for the college. A
pledge was circulated last night, soliciting
the names of the members who will respond
to the call of the governor, if he make one.
It is the general impulse to take the field at
any place or at any time during the war. I


think seventy have enrolled their names with
this intention, and my purpose, in writing this,
is to give speedy information to my friends
at home that my name is on the roll.

"I suppose Prof. C has taken the list

to the governor. I think I will detain this
letter, however, until I hear of his success.
If we are not needed, the drill will do us no
harm ; and if there is need of our services,
and the duty is made plain, surely our par-
ents will not hold us back.

"We expect, or at least hope to get our
muskets this week, and with them the services
of a staff-officer. You may be surprised at
this step, but I believe that on second thought
you will be glad of it. We have the news
twice a day now.

"It is nearly eleven o'clock. The students
in considerable numbers, and some of the
inhabitants, have just ended their marching.
There was a spirited Union meeting this
evening, and measures were taken to organ-
ize a company forthwith, expecting a sum-
mons from government."

" April 23. Prof. C has just returned

from Boston.


" The governor and other military men were
delighted with our proposal. The faculty will
have a meeting to decide the matter to-mor-
row night.

"Tours affectionately,

"F. A. CLAEY."

"April 28, 1861.

"Dear Friends This Sabbath opens more
quietly than the last. The intense excite-
ment has in some measure subsided, and the
military movement so much talked of by col-
lege students is becoming a failure.

"It seems that we are not needed just now;
and the faculty have decided it is best not
to drill with arms upon the college grounds,
and that too after one of the number had
been to Springfield to procure muskets.

" It is a disappointment ill brooked by some
of our martial spirits; but we are trying to
meet our duties as usual, quietly waiting to
see when we may be needed.

"Should it be necessary for our students
to take the field, God forbid that I should
hesitate a moment to obey the call of duty."


"June 3.

"Dear Friends The time is passing swift-
ly and pleasantly. I am now established in
a work on the Sabbath that snits me well.

Mr. S , my intimate friend in the Senior

class, having left college, has bequeathed to
me his little Sabbath-school, held in the brick
school-house at Fort River, a neighborhood
in Old Hadley, about three miles distant.
There are two classes; six blacks and four
or five whites constitute the number.

"I have the negroes to teach. Their ages
vary from five or six to thirteen years of age.
I enjoy talking to them, teaching them hymns,
etc. I hope God will accept my labors, which
I shall be likely to continue for a long time,
if permitted. I am sure you will be glad with
me that this opening for usefulness has pre-
sented itself.

"We shall soon be reviewing our studies in
college. I can look back upon this term as
a real success. My health is quite good.
Life seems to me more earnest. I enjoy
more the blessings of each day, and espec-
ially the hope of doing something for my
heavenly Father, so that I am still willing


you should take that enthusiastic letter I
wrote at the commencement of the term as a
fair index of my present feeling."

But now the time arrived when men were
trembling with fear for the safety of their
country. Frequent reverses and defeats
taught the people to look for news with deep
solicitude. Kentucky and Missouri were fear-
fully threatened. Numbers of the best col-
lege students were leaving to annex their
names to the "roll of honor." Others were
well-nigh ready to say, "We '11 go."

Clary perceived the nation's peril, and his
wavering convictions of duty sometimes troub-
led him. Whether he should join the army,
or remain at college to prepare for mission-
ary life, was the question for him to decide.

He loved his country with more than ordi-
nary devotion, and had long borne her inter-
ests on his heart before the throne of God ;
and now he felt more strongly than ever,
that his first impulse to leave his studies for
the national defence was right. The elo-
quence of his patriotic teachers kindled with-
in him new zeal for the cause.

With reference to a soul-stirring sermon


delivered by Dr. Stearns, he writes, "It was
almost enough to make one resolve at once
to enter the army; and perhaps I shall go,
as it is. I do not mean to be hasty or
thoughtless. I begin to regard the summons
as more and more urgent. Some of our best
young men are leaving. I want to be will-
ing to answer the call, the moment the way
is made clear. I think I will say nothing
to my parents about it until I feel more de-

His decision, which was not made without
prayer, is thus communicated to his father.

"Amherst College, Oct. 1, 1861.

"My dear Father Perhaps you will be
surprised to read this letter ; but upon a sec-
ond perusal, and upon careful consideration
of the motives prompting me to take the step
proposed, I think you cannot object to my
leaving college at once to join my brave
brothers and classmates here who are hast-
ening on to the conflict, especially if you
have thought earnestly of the pressing need
of men for the army.

" The gloom of to-day is deeper here than


I have seen it at any time before. A feeling
of determined patriotism is prevailing among
the young men, and it is said that the facul-
ty do not seek to hinder them as they seemed
to do at first.

" On this question I feel quite decided ; but
you know, dear father, how much I think
of your advice, and how glad I am to se-
cure your acquiescence in all the important
changes and plans of mj life.

"Hitherto you have most kindly fallen in
with my projects; such as going to sea, to
Labrador, etc. Now I come to you with a
proposal far different from any previous one,
and more important than all.

"I am hopeful that you will second my
proposition, and send me away with your
blessing. I have the feeling that you will
certainly grant my request.

"Please to think how supporting it will be, 7
as I make the necessary preparations and
take my leave of friends. Think how hard
it will be to go away without your ready ac-
quiescence. But this I do not fear. Looking
upon the country as you do, especially upon
Kentucky and Missouri; upon the reverses


and disasters which are multiplying on our
side, and upon the fact that men, men are
called for with such heart-stirring appeals;
looking in the face of all this, dear father,
and remembering that, though you cannot gc
yourself, you have a son, strong and able-
bodied, who is yearning to be in the conflict,
to whom it is the greatest self-denial to stay
at home a single day, surely you will say,
* Go, and the God of battles be with you.'

"You spoke about my not joining the army
till obliged to by drafting. I think I am
obliged to go now. My conscience, my con-
victions of duty, every thing about me sug-
gests the course proposed. I am well, and
thankful too for my health. Let it be of
avail for the country's service.

"Perhaps I have said enough; I will add,
that these words are not the hasty expres-
sions of only a few days' rash impulse. 1
have been struggling with myself have been
praying; feel quite clear that it is my duty,
and am happy in the thought that I can and
must go.

"I want to receive your reply certainly by
Friday. Meanwhile I will try to find the

Color-bearer. A


best method of enlistment. That I trust will
not take long; and then the sooner off, the
better for my conscience, my health, and
every thing. If I have said enough, I will
close with the prayer that you may give just
the right reply to

"Your affectionate


The margin of this patriotic letter was
filled with these lines, which .illustrate the
eagerness and resolution with which he had
already entered upon his chosen work: "I
presume I shall go to Worcester or Spring-
field in a few days, if it seems best. T want
to hear from you, so as to be making plans
with more definiteness and rapidity. For the
present I go on with my regular lessons. It
is pretty hard work, however. Father, if all
I have said is not enough, I have the prom-
ise of Dr. Stearns' sermon of Fast-day for

In writing thus, he was not impetuous,
but simply earnest.

During the interim, ho labored as well as
the circumstances would allow. But study-


ing was up-hill work, for Iris heart was in
the war, and he was looking with hope for
the forthcoming letter of reply. The mes-
sage soon reached Conway, Mass. His fa-
ther immediately sent back this honest, heart-
felt rep]y :

"Conway, Oct. 3, 1861.

"My deae Francis I was greatly surprised
at the contents of your letter, received this
afternoon. I shall not undertake to dictate,
but as a father you will allow me to advise.

"I am not afraid to have you go to the
war, nor even to engage in battle, nor to fall
in your country's service, if it is the Divine

"But your circumstances are peculiar; you
have been consecrated as an ambassador for
Christ to China. This I have supposed was
the land of your adopted work. I had fondly
hoped to live to see you enter that great and
glorious missionary field, where you would
have abundant opportunity to exhaust all
your energies in wielding spiritual weapons
to restore millions of rebels to allegiance to
the King of kings. But you propose to turn
aside, for a season, from a preparation for


the work of your life, to serve your country ;
yet there are thousands and tens of thousands
ready to sacrifice themselves on this altar,
where there is one to go to China. You
know you were twenty-three years of age
when you commenced your college course.
You have already lost one year; and can
you think of losing one, two, or three years
more ? Indeed, should you leave now, I should
hardly expect to see you a graduate of Am-
herst college.

"But you go to 'help save the country.'
It is true it is now in a critical, but not in a
desperate condition. These temporary re-
verses lead multitudes to enlist with alacrity
for the war; and the probability is, that ere
long there will be a full supply of federal
forces. It is the superiority of your plans
and future work over those of most young
men, and even most who are pursuing a col-
lege course, and not the danger of war, that
makes me think it inexpedient.

"Should you change again so soon, many
of your friends might give you credit for in-
stability of character, which would operate
against your future usefulness. But I must


bring this letter to a close, as it is time to
go to the office, that you may receive it to-
morrow. Should you decide after all to go,
you will continue to have our best wishes
and tenderest concern. Love from all.

"Your affectionate Father."




The young student thoughtfully perused
his father's letter, finding in it no sufficient
reason for changing his determination to enter
the army at once. He writes soon after,

" I allowed but a few minutes to pass before
enlisting, after I read father's letter, for I was
sure that I could answer all his questions from
the heart." He joined what was called the
"Western Bay State regiment, afterwards
numbered the Thirty-first. Immediately on
leaving home, he occupied himself in enlisting
recruits, having been employed to do so by
the proper authorities. He undertook this
work with his usual zeal, and many instances
of his perseverance and success might be

We mention but one. A young man in a
neighboring town had made a deep impres-
sion on the mind of Clary, as a brave, able
man, and an active Christian. " I deter-


mined," lie writes, " not to leave his home till
I should do so with his name on the enlist-
ment-roll. I found him expecting to be mar-
ried in a short time, with a prospect of build-
ing and occupying a house of his own in
Michigan. ' Shall we not pray together ?'
I asked. ' We will,' was the ready response."
The young man showed the way to the parlor.
They knelt, both their souls struggling foi
inward enlightenment, for divine guidance.
Would not God deign to point out the way r
Again and again they bowed in importunate
prayer. Nearly an hour had passed before
they left the room.

Then they retired to rest, the young recruit-
ing officer saying, " Hope it will be all right
in the morning." Simultaneously with theii
prayers, a mother's pleadings were ascending
in an adjoining room, that she might be ready
to give up her son, if it should seem best;
When morning came the decision was ready
another name was added to the list of Chris-
tian patriots.

While stopping at the village of Ware,
where the greater part of his company had
enlisted, he writes, " Three of my companions


and myself occupy one room in the hotel here.
"We have devotions every night and morning.
This is exceedingly gratifying to me, especial-
ly as it might not have been expected, since
neither of them make any pretensions to re-
ligion. Will you not pray earnestly that my
influence may be salutary over these my com-
panions ?

" I am obliged to hear a great deal of pro-
fane swearing, and to associate with those
who indulge in it. I feel sad to think I shall
be under the necessity of hearing oaths, per-
haps many times a day. Any hints that you
can give me as to the best way of urging men
to discontinue the practice, will be most grate-
fully received.

" Saturday night I repaired to the minis-
ter's, and obtained some good books for my
companions to read. I was glad soon aftel
to see one of them reading very diligenth
the Pilgrim's Progress. He calls it 'first

" Waee, Nov. 4. "We have had pretty good
drilling to-day. I enjoyed it. I find many
opportunities to watch the develojmient of
character day by day, and am amused to ob-


serve tlie great clamor for office. Disappoint-
ment and ill-feeling are constantly arising from
disheartened office-seekers, who threaten to
leave the ranks unless they can be gratified.
I find that only a small number of those now
here are professors of religion."

At Conway we hear of young Clary, with
several others, addressing one of those pa-
triotic meetings then so common all over the
loyal portion of the country. His words were
few and well chosen. They glowed with the
fire of a patriot, a soldier, and a Christian.
All felt their power ; and upon his audience
he left the abiding impression that our coun-
try was worthy of the sacrifice for which it
called that the lives of her young men were
not to be offered up in vain.

He afterwards writes of this gathering,
" Our meeting was inspiring. Our friends
gave us good advice and good cheer ; and
through the noble efforts of the ladies, we are
the recipients of such comforts as the soldier
can appreciate needle-books, handkerchiefs,
stockings, and blankets."

This visit to the home he so much loved
was long remembered. Every thing in and


around the " good old brick house" as he
affectionately called it was as dear fco him as
" the apple of his eye."

The faithful old horse which had carried
him so many times to the distant church and
railroad station ; the wild, rural walks which
his feet had so many times traced and re-
traced ; the beautiful hills, whose openings
revealed sister villages ; and the maple or-
chard where in childhood he had loved to watch
the process of sugar-making all these brought
to mind most pleasant remembrances and
associations from which it was hard to break

But how insignificant were they, in com-
parison with his estimate of the treasures of
the household ! We find Clary in his own
room on the day he was to leave, sad and
thoughtful. He folds neat packages, arranges
files of papers, puts away all his effects with
scrupulous care, the choicest relics being giv-
en into the faithful keeping of his youngest

Thus he closes up his affairs at home. The
remaining time, so precious yet so sad to him,
he spent in writing to his absent sister, and


in calling on a few of his neighbors, all of
whom had some kind wish to express.

Returning home, he found his sister unable
to attend to her duties for grief. His youn-
ger brother could scarcely control his emotions
in parting from him before he went to school.
In the midst of these painful and agitating
feelings his father called, "It is time to be
going." That word "going" never before
broke so strangely, so sadly on his ear. He
says, " My heart murmured, not quite ready
to go from this home of homes, perhaps never
to return."

He hastened down. Little comforts unask-
ed which a mother alone knows how to pre-
pare he found in his valise.

An affectionate good-by to all, and he was
on his way to join his comrades at Ware, just
previous to their removal to Camp Seward,
located at Pittsfield, Mass.




Clary's first appearance on camp-ground
was under trying circumstances. Sickness
prevented his marching with the soldiers, ana
he was compelled to ride in the baggage-
wagon quite a trial to his pride. He was so
ill, that on his arrival his captain insisted
upon his riding back to take quarters at the
hotel, in company with a fellow-soldier.

Soon, however, he recovered his health, and
set himself earnestly at work. It was not an
infrequent remark of his, "I mean to make a
good soldier;" and from this time until the
close of his life, he literally carried this into

He held it to be the duty of a good soldier
to "endure hardness" without complaining.
Privations he expected, and they were cheer-
fully met. What troubled him most was the
indifference of his comrades to sacred things.
He could bear patiently every hardship of
the camp, but the profanity which he was

1 3 4 5

Online LibraryAmerican Tract SocietyThe color-bearer: Francis A. Clary → online text (page 1 of 5)