William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

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

. (page 50 of 78)
Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 50 of 78)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

is incorrectly reported as Battery Eighth.) Their names were
as follows : —

Job Randall, Corporal. Luther A. Phillips.

Warner Alden. Uriah Houghton Reed.

Charles E. Elison. Silas K. Ripley.

Henry A. Phillips. Asahel Smith.

John Phillips. Frederic A. Smith.

They were mustered into service on the 14th of October.
The battery to which they belonged was stationed at Washing-
ton much of the time during its service, but it saw some active
campaigning in Virginia. Though these men did not enlist for
the town of Easton, an attempt was made to have them credited
to the town as part of its quota. On this account they claimed
a bounty from Easton in addition to the bounties they had re-
ceived from Providence. Similar claims were made by other
Easton men who enlisted elsewhere, but were reported as part
of Easton's quota ; but as their claims were not valid they were
not allowed. Residents of Easton who enlisted to the credit of
other towns could not of course rightly be claimed as a part of
the quota of Easton. To report them as such would be to credit
two towns with the same men, and this would make the actual
number of soldiers enlisted throughout the State to be much
smaller than the aggregate number reported from the several
towns of the State.


During the year 1862 Easton took active and generous meas-
ures to encourage enlistments. July 19 the town voted to pay


each volunteer who should enlist for three years' service, and be
credited to the quota of the town, a bounty of one hundred dol-
lars, "in addition to the pay and bounty of the Government."
The selectmen were authorized to act as recruiting officers.
Oliver Ames, Jr., Charles L. Swan, and H. J. Fuller were
appointed a committee to draft a series of resolutions ; they
reported the following, which were adopted in town-meeting
with enthusiasm: —

Resolved, That the brilliant success that has attended our efforts in
crushing this wicked rebellion inspire our hearts with gratitude and
nerve our hands to strike heavier blows for the triumph of Freedom.

Resolved, That we heartily respond to the call of the President for
Volunteers, believing that an overwhelming force now put into the
field will make short work with the Rebellion, cover our army with
glory, and make our glorious Republic the strongest as well as the
freest government of the world.

Resolved, That we the inhabitants of Easton, deeply sensible of the
importance of a speedy compliance with the President's late call, al-
though we have already made heavy contributions to the army, yet we
will spare no efforts to place our quota promptly in the field.

Resolved, That the preservation of the Union and the Constitution,
and the crisis of the hour call upon us to sacrifice with a military
heart our lives and our fortunes upon the altar of our Country.

August II, the town voted to give seventy-five dollars to each
volunteer in addition to the one hundred dollars already voted.
On the 19th it was voted to pay a bounty of one hundred and
fifty dollars to each volunteer for nine months' service, who en-
listed and was credited to the quota of the town. December 6,
to fill the quota of the town, the bounty was raised to two hun-
dred dollars to each volunteer, "whether he is an inhabitant of
the town of Easton or otherwise."

Meantime the ladies of the town were very active in organ-
izing circles to prepare and forward lint, bandages, garments,
and many other things needed for the comfort of the sick and
wounded in camp and hospital.


At the beginning of the year 1863 eleven Easton men were
still serving in the Second Regiment of three years' men. This


regiment took part in the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettys-
burg, and was on duty at New York City from August 22 to Sep-
tember 5 for the suppression of riots ; September 27 it left the
Army of the Potomac to reinforce the army of General Rosecrans,
and when the year closed was stationed at Elk River Railroad
Bridge in Tennessee on guard duty. The changes among the
Easton men in this regiment were as follows : Patrick Reynolds
was discharged for disability March 4, and Silas K. Ripley July 7 ;
Richard Seavers was killed at the battle of Gettysburg, July 3 ;
John S. Smith was transferred to another arm of service, Octo-
ber I ; December 3 1 Ezra G. Whittemore re-enlisted.

The names of the Easton men in the Fourth Regiment have
already been given. It arrived in Louisiana early in 1863, and
was actively engaged in the campaign there. It took part in
the siege and assault of Port Hudson. Company K, in which
were fourteen Easton men, was one of the five companies de-
tailed to carry hand-grenades in the advance of the storming
column ; and Captain Bartlett, who led these companies, fell
mortally wounded on the very breastworks of the enem3^ In
the attack on Port Hudson of June 14, 1863, this regiment lost
in killed and wounded sixty-eight men. There was later con-
siderable difficulty with some members of this regiment, who
demanded to be released from service when their term of enlist-
ment expired ; but as this was a critical time and their services
were much needed, they were required to remain. Incensed at
this, many of them refused to obey orders, and a part of the
regiment was put under arrest ; but no Easton man was included
in this number.

Of the Easton men in this regiment, John Duffy was killed in
the attack on Port Hudson, June 14, 1863 ; Michael E. Roach
was wounded in the foot on the same date, and died July 5 at
New Orleans ; Michael Milrick died June 21 at Brashear City ;
William M. Packard died July 12 at Baton Rouge; and George
A. Tilden died at Port Hudson July 30. The others were mus-
tered out of service August 28, 1863, having served over eleven
months though enlisting as a nine months' regiment. Its entire
loss was upwards of one hundred and twenty-five men.

The Seventh Regiment had thirty-three Easton men when
the year opened, all but three being in Company G, commanded


by Capt. Ward L. Foster. It served in 1863 in several engage-
ments, — the most important being at Marye's Hill May 3, at
Gettysburg July 3, and at Rappahannock Station November 7.
It saw hard fighting at the first named battle near Fredericks-
burg, where out of about five hundred men its losses in killed and
wounded were one hundred and thirty-seven, of whom twenty-
three were killed. The following changes among Easton men in
this regiment occurred this year : Munroe F.Williams, first lieuten-
ant, was severely wounded in the shoulder at the battle of Marye's
Hill; he resigned, and August 14 was discharged, George W.
Andrews was promoted to be first lieutenant February 2, and re-
signed June 17. James Wells was discharged for disability Janu-
ary 3, Norman L. Dunbar November 14, Henry Peck January 3,
and Francis Drake February 19. Charles O'Brien was trans-
ferred November 16 to the gunboat " Benton," and James Murphy
was transferred to the Veteran Reserve Corps September i.

In the Twelfth Regiment nine Easton men were serving, and
they were at the battles of Chancellorsville and Gettysburg.
Thomas Flood, who enlisted October 10, was transferred to
the Thirty-ninth. George B. Randall re-enlisted October 13.
Three men were discharged for disability, — Webster Howard,
April 29 ; Hiram F. French, February 10; and Peleg F. Randall
February 3. Tyler F, Clapp enlisted August 13, and was
discharged for disability December 6.

The EigJiteenth Regiment saw about the same service as the
last named. It had three Easton men, one of whom, John Mul-
len, died at Camp Parole, Maryland, February 5.

From the Twentieth Regiment George H. Howard disappeared
in August.

Charles L. Britton, Jr., enlisted in the Twenty-second Regi-
ment July 16.

The Twenty-fo7irth Regiment had four Easton men. It was
in service in North and South Carolina and Florida, with very
interesting experiences in the harbor of Charleston, South Caro-
lina. Henry T. Drew died November 15, at Port Royal. William
S. Mitchell, April 23, and Ellis R. Holbrook, August 28, were
discharged, the former for disability.

The Twenty-sixth Regiment had fourteen Easton men in
January of this year. It was on provost duty at New Orleans



until June 20. Its active service in Louisiana during the rest
of the year was inconsiderable. Corporal Elijah G. Howard
died May 27 at New Orleans. The following were discharged
for disability : Major Crockett November 16; David Middleton
July 24; and William E. Cole May 18. December 31 Sergeant
William Crockett, Corporal George H. Davis, and Timothy
Murphy were discharged to re-enlist, which they did at once.
This Timothy is not to be confounded with Timothy W. Murphy,
who distinguished himself only by conspicuous absence.

In the Twenty-eigJith Regiment the enlistment of Daniel E.
Sanderson, a temporary resident in town, is credited to Easton
for November 11. Nicholas Murphy was discharged for disa-
bility January 9. Timothy W. Murphy's record has just been
alluded to.

The Twenty-ninth Regiment served in 1863 in Kentucky, Mis-
sissippi, and Tennessee. It was in the siege of Vicksburg from
June 17 to July 4, the siege of Jackson from July 11 to the i6th,
the battle of Blue Springs October 10, the battle of Campbell's
Station November 16, and the siege of Knoxville from Novem-
ber 17 to December 5. Solomon R. Foster was discharged for
disability, February 10, and Nelson M. Randall, March 19.

Edward E. Randall was serving in the Thirty-seventJi Regi-

Thomas Bean and George J. Boodry were serving in the
Th iriy-n in th R egim ent.

Frank A. Mitchell was discharged from the Forty-fourth Regi-
metit in June.

John D. Haney re-enlisted in the Third Battery, Light Artil-
lery, December 28.

Peter Fisher enlisted in the Ninth Battery December 26.

James T. Morley, who enlisted in the Fotirih Regiment in
1 86 1, re-enlisted December 26, 1863, in the Fonrth Regiment of

George H. Drake was discharged June 3 from the Sixth Regi-
ment of Cavalry, this being the limit of his term of enlistment.

From the Rhode Island Battery H, which had ten Easton men,
Uriah H. (best known as Houghton) Reed was discharged in
February. When Mr. Reed was about to enlist, he was remon-
strated with by Oliver Ames, Jr., for he then had a lame knee,


for which, in fact, he was subsequently discharged. But Mr.
Reed, who had once been a circus performer, turned three
somersaults in quick succession as a sufficient answer to Mr.
Ames's doubt of his physical ability. When later he applied for
a discharge for disability, the sceptical surgeon gave him severe
tests of cupping, etc., that made him almost repent of his appli-
cation ; he was, however, discharged. John Phillips died in
camp near Fairfax Station, Virginia, March i, and his body was
sent home for burial. Henry A. Phillips was transferred to the
Veteran Reserve Corps September 12, and did not again go into
service. Asahel Smith was transferred to the Veteran Reserve
Corps and sent to the hospital at Portsmouth Grove, Rhode
Island, and discharged March 13, 1863.

At the battle of Chancellorsville, which occurred May 2 and 3,
Patrick McCourt of Easton, who was in the Sixty-sixth Nezv York
Infantry was killed. The evidence of this seems to be conclu-
sive, although an application to the Adjutant-General of New
York brought back the statement to the writer that he was
reported as a deserter on the rolls of the New York Sixty-sixth
Regiment. But the writer has carefully questioned several
persons who conversed with one of McCourt's comrades who
saw him shot through the body, and who endeavored, though in
vain, to get him off the field. The evidence of his death was con-
clusive enough to secure a pension for his mother ; and though
this was subsequently withdrawn, the withdrawal was owing to
the discovery that she had a husband, and had not been depen-
dent upon her son for support. This particular statement is
due to the memory of a man who died fighting for his country.
These facts have been communicated to the Adjutant-General of
New York State, who has acknowledged their receipt ; and the
record of McCourt will probably be changed, so that this stain
upon his memory may be wiped out. It was not uncommon for
missing men to be reported as deserters, and gross injustice was
sometimes unintentionally done in this way.


In July, 1863, occurred the draft for soldiers, — the volunteer
enlistments failing to furnish a sufficient number of troops.
The first draft that included Easton was made at Taunton, under


charge of Capt. J. W. D. Hall, then provost-marshal. It was a
time of intense anxiety to men liable to military service, and
many held their breath ; for the drafted must either enter the
army, provide substitutes at considerable cost, suddenly become
invalids, or emigrate to Canada. Seventy-seven men were drawn
at this time as the quota for Easton.

It has long been understood that health was endangered by
getting in a draught. This opinion was confirmed by the result
of the draft of July, 1863. One third of our Easton drafted men
suddenly found themselves invalids. Like Saint Paul, they could
say, " I take pleasure in my infirmities." Hitherto unsuspected
disabilities were now immediately developed. The medical ex-
aminers were now able to discover radical physical defects of
which their possessors were before unconscious. These dis-
coveries were sometimes said to be stimulated by substantial
considerations secretly given to the examiners ; but of course
this is the envious slander of those who could not afford, or were
not mean enough, to give a bribe. Undoubtedly, however, many
persons — say, one third of those drafted — were not strong
enough for hard military service, and were properly enough ex-
empted. Of the remaining two thirds, a few suddenly found that
they had important engagements elsewhere, though most of them
either provided substitutes or went into the army themselves.

There was a second draft in May and June, 1864. But it was
found that the town of Easton was at that time only six men
short of its full quota. This deficiency was at once made up,
so that it was not necessary to draft any more Easton men.
Great exertions had been made by collecting money in town to
fill the quotas ordered in 1863 and 1864; and the liberal sums
subscribed enabled Easton to send into the field more than her
needed proportion of soldiers.

The writer has seen a curious document which was prepared
about the beginning of 1864. It is a printed copy of the
" Easton Subscription List," and contains the names of all persons
in Easton who subscribed toward filling the town's share of the
quotas under the call of October 17, 1863, and that of February
I, 1864. The town was canvassed by districts. Four hundred
and forty-two men subscribed. In several districts — Nos. 4, 6>
and 9 — the paper was circulated among the ladies, forty-seven


of whom gave their aid. In the ladies' list it is pleasant to see
the names of several little girls, two of whom subscribed five
cents each, doing it with real pride, no doubt, and not without
a little self-sacrifice, — for five cents means much to a child.
The whole sum collected was $'J,^6

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 50 of 78)