William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

History of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) online

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and Edward Hayward, 2d, the second lieutenant. Ephraim Burr
•was first lieutenant in 1776. In 1777 Nathan Hack was first
lieutenant, and John Godfrey second lieutenant. Seth Pratt
became acting captain of this company in 1780, though after-
ward known only as lieutenant. Matthew Randall had mean-
time raised another company. The militia company of which
we are speaking continued in existence many years afterward,
constantly changing its officers, parading on training days, going
to musters, etc. Among its captains after the Revolution were
Jacob Leonard, Edward Hayward, 2d, Jedediah Willis, John
Tisdale, Eliphalet Leonard, Jr., David Wade, and Timothy

At the time of the breaking out of the War of 18 12, Noah
Reed was the captain of this company, and Simeon Drake was
lieutenant. As already noted, it did guard duty at New Bed-
ford. Captain Reed was succeeded by Capt. Elijah Smith, after
whom came David Manley, John Gilmore, Asa Bartlett, Gurdon
Stone, Henry French, Barzillai Dean, George Washington Hay-
ward, and Edward W. Dean, the latter being the last captain.


Its last annual training was in May, 1835. Captain Dean or-
dered another inspection in the following year, but by this time
the whole matter began to be considered useless ; the interest
had died out, and the organization fell to pieces.

It has been stated that the militia appeared in ordinary cloth-
ing without regular uniform. But the contrast presented be-
tween the two militia companies and the Light Infantry was too
unpleasant to the former, and the militia therefore adopted dark
(usually dark-blue) coats and white pantaloons. They also wore
the tall hats that were then in almost universal use, each hat
having in it a small cockade. This gave a decided military
appearance to these two companies of militia.


February 27, 18 10, Leonard Perry and others petitioned for
leave to raise a Light Infantry Company in Easton. A special
committee recommended that this petition be granted, "provided
it shall not reduce any of the established companies in said
town of Easton below the number prescribed by law." ^ It was
therefore ''Resolved, That his Excellency the Governor, with the
advice of his council, be and hereby is authorized to raise by
voluntary enlistment a company of Light Infantry in the town
of Easton, in the county of Bristol, in the Fourth Regiment of
the Second Brigade and Fifth Division of the Militia of this
Commonwealth." ^

This company was immediately raised, and it organized with
the choice of Isaac Lothrop as captain, Seth Williams lieuten-
ant, and Melvin Gilmore ensign. These three officers were
commissioned May 17, iSio.^ John Williams had in 1808
been lieutenant-colonel of the Fourth Regiment to which this
company was assigned, and he was succeeded August 9, i8og, by
Capt. Sheperd Leach, who was commissioned lieutenant-colonel
at this date, holding the position nine years. He was promoted
to be colonel and brigadier-general, and February 16, 1827, he

' Council Records, vol. xxxv. p. 405.

^ General Court Records, vol. xlvii. p. 235.

3 The dates of appointments have been gathered from official communications
from the United States War Department, the Regimental Rosters, and the Adjutant-
General's office in Boston, and from the books of the company, which were loaned
to the writer by L. S. Drake.


was elected to the office of major-general. Under Capt. Isaac
Lothrop, in the autumn of 1814, this company went to Boston on
guard-duty and remained there about two months. Captain
Lothrop was succeeded in his command by Oliver Pool, who was
commissioned May 22, 181 5, and held the place about three
years. George Alger was made captain, May 5, 1818. Other
captains serving were Lewis Williams, Lincoln Drake, Alanson
White, Welcome Lothrop, Jarvis Lothrop, Henry Day, and Tis-
dale Harlow. The latter was the last captain, and was commis-
sioned April 18, 1833. The Easton Light Infantry dissolved
March 28, 1834.

Before 1790 there was a squadron of cavalry belonging to the
Fifth Division, which was composed of men from Norton, Esston,
Mansfield, and perhaps a few other towns. Among the Easton
men belonging were Cyrus Alger, Simeon Leach, Bezer Keith,
James Guild, Josiah Copeland, Cyrus Williams, James Keith, and
James Dean. Thomas Williams was commissioned lieutenant,
December 16, 1793. Joshua Williams was appointed cornet in
1 80 1, lieutenant in 1806, and captain April 28, 1809. They
expected to be called out for service in the War of 18 12, and
had orders to the effect that if when summoned any one was
without a horse, he must impress one into the service. They
were not however called for.


After the dissolution of the companies whose history has
been given above, the interest in military matters had a lull for
a time in Easton ; a few residents, however, were members of
organizations in neighboring towns. The military spirit began
to revive again in 1852. A charter for an infantry company,
signed by Governor Boutwell, was secured December 3, 1852,
and the company organized on the 22d. The following officers
were chosen : William E. Bump, captain ; Francis Tilden, first
lieutenant; Oliver Ames, 3d, second lieutenant; John Carr,
third lieutenant ; Rufus Willis, fourth lieutenant. This com-
pany and one then recently formed at Canton were organized as
the second battalion of light infantry, second brigade and first
division, the Easton company being known as Company B. Of
this battalion Oliver Ames, 3d, was chosen adjutant. He was



afterward promoted to be major, and then lieutenant-colonel ;
and Frank M, Ames was made quartermaster and then major.
The State furnished this company with fifty guns, bayonets, and
other accoutrements, besides swords for the officers. The record
book states that the State also forwarded " i Brass Kittle drum
in good order, and i Fife, crooked and unfit for use." By the
end of 1853 about fifty men had joined the Easton Light Infantry.
The first parade of the company was on the 25th of May, 1853,
with music by the North Bridgewater Band. Inspections, train-
ings, musters, etc., were attended at various places from time to
time, the company gratefully acknowledging treats of lemonade
and other refreshments from persons here and elsewhere.

In 1856, beginning August 20, there was a notable muster on
the plain south of Lincoln Street. Companies were present
from various places, and encamped on the ground. The first
two days were rainy, and there was no parade until the third
day, when Governor Gardner and Brigadier-General Pierce were
present. This muster had the usual accompaniment of such
occasions, — rioting, gambling, and drunkenness. Company B
attended the famous encampment at Concord, the State Muster
of 1859. J^me 16, 1859, Milo M. Williams was elected captain,
and Linton Waldron first lieutenant. October 18, i860, the
company attended a reception in Boston given to the Prince
of Wales, before whom they passed in review. This company,
however, was destined to do something more than play at sol-
diering. The war clouds of rebellion were gathering, and soon
the thunders of cannon were sounding in Charleston Harbor.
The remaining history of this company will be found in the
chapter on Easton in the Rebellion.


The list below contains the names of those military ofificers
who have risen to and above the rank of captain. It has been
impossible to ascertain the exact date of the commissions of
some of the earlier officers; but the dates after 1781 are nearly
all official, as are a few of those before this time. The others
are based upon the town records, tax-lists, and other documents
where titles are given, and may be depended upon as approxi-
mately correct.





John Phillips . .
Edward Hayward
Eliphalet Leonard
Benjamin Williams
Nathaniel Perry .
Eliphalet Phillips
Matthew Hayward
Eliphalet Leonard, J
Zephaniah Keith .
Benjamin Williams,
Abiel Mitchell
Macey Williams .
James Keith .
James Perry . .
Matthew Randall
Josiah Keith . .
Ephraim Burr . .
Ebenezer Tisdale ^
Seth Pratt 2 . .
Abner Hayward ^
Elisha Harvey * .
Jacob Leonard
Jonathan Pratt
John Williams
Edward Hayward, 2d
Abijah Wetherell
Jedediah Willis .
John Tisdale . .
Eliphalet Leonard, Jr
Nathaniel Wetherby
David Wade . .
Sheperd Leach
Timothy Mitchell
Joshua WiUiams .
Edward Kingman
Noah Reed . .
Isaac Lothrop, 2d.






before 1779

. . 1780

about 1780

about 1 78 1

. . 1781

. . 1786

April 30, 1788

June 9, 1788

April 8, 17S9

June 12, 1789

Feb. 3, 1794

April 14, 1794

April I, 1802

March 28, 1803

Nov. 4, 1803

March 25, 1805

April 28, 1809

Oct. 9, 1809

April 9, 1810

May 17, 1 8 ID

Tisdale Godfrey
Oliver Pool
Elijah Smith .
George Alger .
David Manley .
Bartholomew Drake
Seba Howard .
John Gil more .
Lewis Williams
Jonathan Pratt
Lincoln Drake
Asa Bartlett .
Gurdon Stone
Alanson White
Archippus Buck
Henry French
Frederic Fuller
Welcome Lothrop
John Torrey .
Jarvis Lothrop
Barzillai Dean
Perez Marshall
Henry Day
Tisdale Godfrey, Jr.
Geo. W. Hayward
Tisdale Harlow .
Elbridge G. Reed
Edward W. Dean
John R. Drake .
William E. Bump
Milo M. Williams, Jr
Ward L. Foster .
John Fitzpatrick .
Robert Dollard .
Frank A. Mitchell
William E. Reed ^ .

May 2, 1815

„ 22, 1815

Sept. 27, 1816

May 5, 1818

„ 5, 1818

„ 19, 1818

Oct. 4, 1819

„ 7, 1819

June 5, 1820

„ 26, 1820

„ 20, 1821

May 7, 1822

June 10, 1823

May 23, 1825

Aug. 18, 1825

„ 23, T826

„ 24, 1826

Oct. 9, 1826

May 30, 1827

March 4, 1828

„ 4, 1828

4, 1828

I, 1830

I, 1830

3. 1831

April 18, 1S33

» 18, 1833

» 18, 1833

Jan. 25, 1834

Dec. 22, 1852

June 16, 1859

„ 15, i86r

Nov. 10, 1862

Dec. 14, 1863

Feb. 1865

April I, 1S65



1 Was captain before he moved to Easton from Stoughtonham (Sharon), in 1778.

2 Always known, however, as Lieut. Seth Pratt. He served as a captain, but was
perhaps not commissioned.

3 Moved to Easton from Bridgewater in 1793 or 1794.

* Served as lieutenant to the end of the war, getting his title of captain prob-
ably by brevet.

5 A native of Easton though not enlisting here. In his second enlistment his
effects were sent to his father's at Easton, and he considered this town his home.
He is son of William G. Reed.




Anselm Tupper
Charles Hayden

Jan. 6,


Cyrus Lothrop
Oliver Ames, 3d

July 15, 1816
March, 1853

Regimental Surgeons.

Samuel Deans
George B. Cogswell

Aug. 25, 1825
Aug. 7, 1862


Zephaniah Keith
Benjamin Tupper
Abiel Mitchell
James Keith
Anselm Tupper
John Williams
Noah Reed
John Gilmore .
Seba Howard .

Zephaniah Keith
John Williams
Sheperd Leach
David Manley
John Gilmore

Abiel Mitchell
Benjamin Tupper*

probably 1774
. (May) 1775

May 19, 1775
. March, 1780
. about 1789

Oct. 8, 1793

April 9, 1 8 10

,, 5, 1822

Oct. 20, 1824

George Wheaton
Alanson White
John Torrey
Oliver Ames, 3d.
Frank M. Ames .
Robert DoUard ^ .
Joseph W. Hayward
John Fitzpatrick .

Sept. 23, 1825
,, 9, 1828
Oct. 3, 1829
Dec. 25, 1854
July 10, 1857
Oct. 25, 1864
March 13, 1865
May 10, 1866

L ieiitenant- Colonels.

Nov. 4, 1775
March, 1776
Aug. I, 1803
„ 7, 1809
Sept. 17, 1819
Aug. 23, 1823

Alanson White . . Feb. 12, 1827
John Torrey . . . Sept. 22, 183 1
Oliver Ames, 3d. . . July 10, 1857
Henry L. Dickerman, March 30, 1883
George F. F. Wilde,^ Sept. 25, 1885


Feb., 1776 I Sheperd Leach
July I, 1777 I John Torrey .


June 20, 1816
Oct. 31, 1832

Benjamin Tupper
Sheperd Leach

. . . 1782
July 8, 1819

Major- General.
Sheperd Leach, Feb. 16, 1827, discharged March 10, 1830.

1 Captain Dollard was appointed major by General Butler on the battle-field in
front of Richmond, September 29, 1864. The above is the date of his commission.

2 He was then assistant-surgeon. He was appointed " major by brevet ... to
rank as such for faithful and meritorious service."

'^ Commander Wilde's name appears here because a commander in the United
States Navy ranks as lieutenant-colonel.

* This is not the exact date of Colonel Tupper's commission ; it is the date at
which he succeeded to the command of a regiment. It was the eleventh regiment in
the Continental Army, and at this time was at West Point.


It will be appropriate to close this chapter with a brief sketch
of the man who acquired the highest military title of any son of

Major-General Sheperd Leach was a descendant in the
fifth generation from Giles Leach, of Weymouth, He was son
of Abisha and Patience (Woods) Leach, and was born in Easton,
April 30, 1778. He was early instructed in the business fol-
lowed by his father, which was the iron-foundry business, in
which the son became quite celebrated. His ambition was to
have a monopoly of it in New England ; therefore he purchased
all the foundries of which he could get possession. In Cyrus
Alger he recognized a dangerous rival, and when he bought out
his interest in the business in Easton he stipulated that Mr.
Alger should not have a foundry within twenty miles of the
town. Mr. Alger obeyed the letter of this stipulation, but
started at South Boston the iron foundry that later became a
flourishing competitor of General Leach's business. This busi-
ness ambition of General Leach was the cause of his final
disaster. He acquired the ownership of more property than he
could profitably manage, and at his death his business affairs
were in a bad condition.

General Leach took much interest in military matters. "My
earliest recollection of him," writes the Rev. Luther H. Sheldon,
"was of his fine appearance on his dapple-gray parade horse on
the muster-field, — a horse which he kept solely for this purpose.
The General was large, fleshy, of a commanding appearance,
a fine officer on the field, and seemed to enjoy his position
as general." He was commissioned captain November 4, 1803,
lieutenant-colonel August 7, 1809, colonel June 20, 18 16, brig-
adier-general July 8, 1 819, and major-general February 16,

General Leach was sincerely attached to the new society
formed in the first years of the controversy during the Rev. Dr.
Sheldon's ministry ; but he was careful not to be drawn into
any angry disputes in those exciting times. He thoughtfully
matured any propositions he wished to make in any of the parish
meetings of that day, and submitted them in writing. The

1 The Rev. Luther H. Sheldon has kindly supplied most of the facts and incidents
here given, and the estimate of General Leach's character is also his



Evangelical Society had in him a stanch and liberal friend.
On stormy Sundays he would get out an immense covered
wagon that he owned, and drive from house to house until it was
filled with church-goers, and then drive to meeting. When doinof
business in Boston, he would drive out to Easton to attend the
Thursday evening meeting, changing horses on the way, and
then drive back the next morning. When the church-bell was
broken, he was asked to start a subscription for a new one, and
responded by at once subscribing enough to cover the cost of
exchanging the old bell for a new one. The Rev. L. H. Shel-
don gives this illustration of his generosity : " I remember start-
ing out one Monday morning with the Rev. Mr. Beckwith on a
tour round town to get a donation for the Peace Society. We
called first on the General, and he said, ' I was interested in
your discourse yesterday. How much do you expect to get in
town .'' ' 'I was in hopes to get about fifty dollars,' said Mr,
Beckwith. 'Well,' said General Leach, 'you ought to get that ;
but our people have been pretty well taxed lately, and as your
time is valuable to you, I might as well hand you the fifty dol-
lars and let you go back to Boston,' And he gave him the
money." Mr. Sheldon further writes, " He would frequently
come to my father and say, * I have been quite prosperous in
my business of late. Here is a little money for the poor and
sick in town. You know better than I who are the needy ones :
distribute it for me.' My father would take the package of bills,
one hundred dollars, or two hundred dollars, and send him the
names of those helped, and the amounts given each. This was
of frequent occurrence."

General Leach used to have men dig bog-iron ore in this
vicinity. He once gave a man a certain sum for the privilege of
digging over his pasture for the ore. More ore was found than
was anticipated, and the man came to General Leach with a
pitiful story. " I happened to be in the General's ofiice," Mr.
Sheldon states, " when the man came and said, *' My cow-pasture
is spoiled, and I ought to have a good deal more than you
agreed for the damage.' The General smiled and said, ' Did I
not give you all you asked .? ' ' Yes,' was the reply, ' but I did
not think you were going to get so much.' The General then
said, ' I guess we wont have any hard feelings about it ; how


much more do you want ?' The man brightened up and named
the sum, which was given him on the spot."

General Leach's generosity to his minister has been referred
to in another chapter, but something on that subject may be
added here. The Rev. Dr. Sheldon's sleigh broke down near
the General's house. The latter asked Mr. Sheldon to hitch his
horse into a new sleigh and leave the old one with him, saying
that he would send for the new one when he wanted it. When
he was spoken to about it afterward, he replied with a smile,
" I told you I would send for it when I wanted it." The reader
anticipates the result : it was never sent for. Few ministers
were ever more fortunate in a parishioner than Dr. Sheldon was
in this generous helper.

Though not much of a singer himself, General Leach was
very fond of singing, and would lead the choir, standing with his
back to the audience and beating time in the most approved
style. He hired a Boston teacher, Mr. Coburn, to come to Eas-
ton at ten dollars per evening to give singing lessons and drill
the choir. The Evangelical Society had the name of having
the best choir of any country church in this vicinity. One Sun-
day while singing during the noon intermission at church, one
of his men came galloping up, his horse white with foam, and
told the General that the flume of the great pond had broken
away and the flood was pouring through, sweeping away bridges
and doing immense damage. The General calmly said, " You
can't stop it, can you.-*" " Why, no !" said the excited horseman.
" Well, then, let it run," said General Leach ; " let us sing an-
other tune."

The General was fond of children, though he had none of his
own. He was accustomed to adopt young girls and keep them
until they were married. " He was a great friend to the chil-
dren," Mr. Sheldon writes, "and always had a pleasant word for
any little one who chanced to be near. I well remember his can-
tering by the guard on the muster-field up to where a squad
of Easton boys were watching the parade, and saying, * Here,
Luther, take this money and treat all the boys to cake and
lemonade.' "

General Leach married Phoebe Torrey, daughter of Joseph
Torrey, of Hanover. He was thrown out of his chaise in 1832,


and sustained, it was thought, some internal injuries, in conse-
quence of which he died. His death occurred September 19,
1832. He was reputed in his day to be the wealthiest man in
Easton; he was certainly a man of mark, with popular and
engaging qualities, and will long be honorably remembered in
town*" His widow, April 10, 1837, was married to Dea. Dwelly
Williams. She was born in 1784, and died December 22, 1851.




Opening of the War. — Departure of Company B, Fourth Regiment,
FOR Fortress Monroe ; its Return. — Enlistments in the
Second Regiment. — Company G, Seventh Regiment. — Other
Enlistments from Easton in i86i. — Town Action in i86i. —
Easton Volunteers in 1862. — Artillery Service. — Town Ac-
tion in 1862. — Enlistments and Service of Soldiers in 1863. —
The Drafts. — District Subscription Papers. — Town Action in
1863. — Volunteers in 1864. — Town Action in 1864. — The Sol-
diers Return in 1865. — Easton Soldiers in the Navy. — Town
Action in 1865. — Deserters and Shirkers. — Woman's Service
and Trials. — Summary of Enlistments. — Major Robert Dol-
lard. — Major John Fitzpatrick. — Complete Record of Easton
Soldiers in Alphabetical Order.

IT hardly needed a prophet's vision to foresee that the exist-
ence in our free country of a system of slavery, in which
human beings were bought and sold like cattle, must lead to an
irrepressible conflict. For many years preceding the Rebellion,
the antagonism between the North and South had increased and
intensified. Various measures, among others the infamous Fugi-
tive-Slave Law, which the Slave-power, aided by Northern allies
of both parties, forced upon the country, had roused a spirit of
opposition which refused to be quieted, and it soon became evi-
dent to the more clear-sighted that if the Union was to be pre-
served. Slavery must go. The election of Abraham Lincoln in
i860 was followed by the formal secession from the Union of
several of the Southern States. Andrew Jackson years before
had squelched a similar movement by one stamp of his foot.
But President Buchanan, unmanned by his divided sympathies,
faltered. The conspiracy gained rapid headway, and immediately
organized itself for action,- — the purpose of the Southern States
being to withdraw from the Union and form a separate and rival
nation, with Slavery as its corner-stone. The first open act of
war was the firing upon the United States national transport




the " Star of the West," in Charleston Harbor. This was Jan-
uary 9, 1861. The bombardment of Fort Sumter by the Rebels
began April 12, and they intended to follow up this blow by
seizing the national capital. April 15, President Lincoln called
for seventy-five thousand troops for three months' service. The
call met a swift response ; thousands of loyal men were soon
on the move, and Washington was saved. But the long and
bloody conflict had begun.


Among the first regiments called into the field was the Fourth
MassacJmsetts, composed in part of companies in the Old Colony.
Within twelve hours after being summoned, all the companies of
this regiment reported for duty at Faneuil Hall in Boston. This
was April 16, only three days after the surrender of Fort Sumter
and the next day after President Lincoln issued his call for
troops. The regiment was quartered for the night with other
troops in Faneuil Hall. On the next day they were fitted out
with overcoats, blankets, knapsacks, and haversacks, with three
days' rations, and the old guns were exchanged for new Spring-
field rifled muskets. Before starting, the regiment was addressed
in the following eloquent terms by Governor Andrew : —

"It gives me unspeakable pleasure to witness this array from the
good Old Colony. You have come from the shores of the sounding
sea, where lie the ashes of Pilgrims, and you are bound on a high
and noble pilgrimage for liberty, for the Union and Constitution of
your country. Soldiers of the Old Bay State ! sons of sires who never
disgraced their flag in civil life or on the tented field ! I thank you from
the bottom of my heart for this noble response to the call of your
State and your Country. You cannot wait for words. I bid you God
speed and an affectionate farewell ! "

The march to the Old Colony Station was made amid intense
excitement. At ten p. m. on the 17th the regiment had em-
barked on the steamer "State of Maine," at Fail River, reaching
New York at five o'clock on the afternoon of the i8th. While
waiting at the wharf they witnessed the landing of Major An-
derson, the hero and defender of Sumter, who was received with
indescribable enthusiasm. That evening a row-boat came along-

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 48 of 78)