William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

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

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were then left but four Easton men in this regiment.

The Tiventy-nintJi Regiment had seven Easton men in it at
the beginning of this year. It served early in the year in Ten-
nessee, and afterward in Kentucky, — the earlier service being
one of hardship. January i, Lemuel Capen, Charles F. Roberts,
and Charles H. Smith were discharged, to re-enlist, — the latter
on this re-enlistment being credited to Mansfield. Dr. Cogs-
well, the surgeon of the regiment, was discharged for disability
the 15th of March, and John Bartlett December 30, his term of
service having expired.

Thomas Flood was in the Thirty -ninth Regiment, but he con-
cluded. May 31, to take a vacation, and went into safe seclusion
with friends living conveniently near the Canada line.

In the Fifty-sixth Regiment Frank A Mitchell was promoted
first lieutenant, March 17. In this regiment Ansel B. Randall,
a native of Easton, but credited to East Abington, served as
captain. Some account of him may be found on another page.

Early in this year fourteen Easton men enlisted in the Fifty-
eighth Regiment. This regiment was formed late in 1863,
and was completed April 25, 1864. It reported at Alexandria,
Virginia, April 30, went immediately to the front, and was as-
signed to the Ninth Army Corps. It was engaged in the most
active and dangerous service, taking part in the battles of the
Wilderness, Spottsylvania, North Anna, Cold Harbor, Peters-
burg, Weldon Railroad, Poplar Spring Church, etc. At Peters-
burg it shared in the terrible assault on the forts.

The following Easton men were in this regiment : February 8
there enlisted in Company B Matthew Fisher, John Fisher,
William A. Lothrop, and John M. Randall ; and in Company C,
February 20, Orin S. Marshall. On the ist of March there
enlisted in Company D Charles A. Crocker, sergeant ; George A.
Lackey, sergeant ; Nelson M. Randall, Peleg F. Randall, and



Berlin White. April i8, George E. R. Leighton enlisted in
Company H ; and on the 20th, Hiram A. Monk in Company C,
and Calvin A. Marshall in Company F. Nathaniel H. Talbot
was second lieutenant in this regiment, and on the 8th of
August was promoted to be first lieutenant. June 7, at Wash-
ington, Peleg F. Randall died of wounds. On the loth, Calvin
A. Marshall died at White House Landing; and September 15,
William A. Lothrop breathed his last in the prison pen at

In the Sixtieth Regiment, of one hundred days' men, Herbert
A. Hewett enlisted in Company A, July 18 ; and Abbot B. Bar-
rows in Company G, on the 19th. Both men were discharged
November 30. This regiment was stationed at Indianapolis.

In the Third Battery Light Artillery John D. Haney was
killed June 4 at the battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia. Taking
advantage of a time when not engaged in action, he had seated
himself under a tree for the purpose of writing to his wife ; and
while thus engaged a ball pierced his temples, and he died be-
fore he could be conveyed to the hospital. His last thoughts
were thus turned lovingly homeward to the wife he was not to
see again on earth.

In the Ninth Battery William D. Forsyth and George Mc-
Farland enlisted January 14, and Patrick Conlan February 9.

Richard M. Davis, corporal, joined the Twelfth Battery Janu-
ary 13 ; Bernard McDermott, November 9; and Timothy Cotter,
December 12, — the latter, however, December 20, is registered
as a "rejected recruit." Thomas McGrath was already serving
in this battery.

May 27, Jason Manley Tinkham joined the Fourteenth Battery.
He was severely vi'ounded in the side by the explosion of a shell
at the battle of Petersburg, August 22. Several men were killed
at the same time, among them Charles Taylor, of Stoughton.
Mr. Tinkham was carried to a hospital in Washington, and died
there from the effects of his wounds September 21. His remains
were buried in the hospital cemetery and the grave properly
marked. It was identified twelve years afterward, and probably
may still be seen.

James Roberts enlisted in Company B of the First Regiment
of Cavalry, November 10.



Three Easton men were in the FoiirtJi Regiment of Cavalry at
this time. James T. Morley was a bugler in Company A of this
regiment. Horace F. Pool was in Company I, and Rufus H.
Willis was sergeant in Company I. The record of the latter
shows continual promotion. He was in Company B, Fourth
Regiment of three months' men ; re-enlisted for Bridgewater in
First Cavalry September 14, 1861 ; September 24, 1864, he was
appointed quartermaster's sergeant ; December 27 was made ser-
geant-major, and June 5, 1865, second lieutenant, being through
1864 and to the close of the ^ar in the Fourth Cavalry, with
which the First Cavalry was consolidated. He was detailed at
the time of the struggle about Petersburg in April, 1865, as act-
ing aide-de-camp on the staff of Maj.-Gen. John Gibbon, com-
manding the Twenty-Fourth Army Corps, and had the satisfaction
of standing within twenty feet of Generals Grant and Lee when
they had their talk together after the surrender. He speaks thus
of the interview : " I shall never forget the fine personal appear-
ance of General Lee, and the rather slovenly one of General
Grant. Lee did nearly all the talking, and while doing so tears
rolled down his manly face. I was one of the first party to go
inside the Rebel lines to ' shake hands across the bloody chasm,'
which I assure you was done in earnest, as the officers were
nearly all acquainted with each other. I had command of a de-
tail of cavalry to go inside the Rebel lines to collect the battle-
flags, which was done to the number of seventy-three."

Lieut. Rufus H. Willis returned to Easton after the war, and
followed the occupation of a shoemaker. He has been a com-
mander of Post Fifty-two Grand Army of the Republic, was for a
long time chief presiding officer of Bristol Lodge of Good Tem-
plars, and held the office of deputy-sheriff of Bristol County
for thirteen years. About nine years ago he moved to New
Bedford. At present he is much interested in the new labor
movements, and his standing among the workingmen, as well
as the confidence reposed by them in him, may be inferred
from the fact that he is master workman (the chief officer) of
Equality Assembly No. 3,542 of the Knights of Labor in
New Bedford, to which Assembly belong about eight hundred
members. To this office he was appointed when the Assem-
bly was organized, January, 1885, and he has since been re-


elected. At the last State election (November, 1886) he was
chosen to be a member of the legislature.

December 7 Franklin Buck, Zeno F. Buck, Laban W. Drake,
Jesse Fowler, and Henry M. Willis volunteered, and were as-
signed to the EigJiteeiitJi Unattached Compaiiy. John B. Wilson
enlisted in the same company on the day before. All the above
were on the quota of Easton. This quota being now full, the
following who enlisted in the same company were credited to
other towns, as will be specified in the alphabetical list. Decem-
ber 6 Samuel H. Gooch, Simeon H. Leach, and Zeri B. Martis
enlisted, and December 7 Theodore H. Hunnewell. These ten
men were in camp at Readville, were not called to the front, and
were discharged May 12, 1865.

Stillman D. Eddy enlisted for Taunton in the Third Regi-
ment of Heavy Artillery August 29 ; discharged June 17, 1865.
Tisdale F. Drake, James H. Keenan, and Charles E. Osgood
enlisted in the Twenty-ninth Company of Heavy Artillery
August 29, and were discharged June 16, 1865.


During the year 1864 various town-meetings were held to
meet the pressing exigencies of the situation.

April 18 the town voted to refund to the contributors three
fourths of the money paid by them to assist in filling the town
quotas of volunteers for military service, under the calls of the
President for October, 1863, and February, 1864; also, to raise
by taxation ten thousand dollars for recruiting expenses, and the
payment of bounties to volunteers to fill the quota of Easton
under the then recent calls of the President for more men.
July 26, it was voted to raise money by taxation, and to pay a
bounty of one hundred and twenty-five dollars to each volunteer
who should enlist to fill the quota of the town under the call of
the President, dated July 18, 1864.


The closing year of our great struggle had now begun. After
hard fighting about Richmond, General Lee surrendered to the
immortal Grant, and the Rebellion was practically at an end.
The great conflict, so memorable for its fearful waste of blood


and treasure, and so prolific in sorrows and agonies that never
will and never can be described, did nevertheless, under the
good Providence that presides over human destinies, prove an
instrument of blessing. It struck the chains from four million
slaves, indissolubly cemented the Union of the States, and blot-
ted out the stain from our national banner ; so that henceforth it
may really be true that our country is " the land of the free and
the home of the brave."

It was now the pleasant duty of the town to welcome back the
scarred and toil-worn heroes who had done their part to achieve
this glorious result ; to welcome again to pleasant homes and
thankful hearts the brave men who had fought in our stead.
And ever shall it be ours to hold the priceless services of these
gallant men in fitting remembrance.

Taking the regiments in their order, we find in the Seco/id the.
only remaining Easton soldier was Ezra G. Whittemore, who was
discharged July 14, at the expiration of his term of service.

In the Tzventieth Regiment there were no Easton men at the
beginning of the year, but Howard W. Phillips and John Johnson
were both transferred to it June 21, and were discharged July 16.

In the Tivciity-foiirtJi Regiment, George N. Blanchard was
wounded in the left arm, and was mustered out of service for
disability October 9.

In the Tweuty-sixtJi Regiment there remained but three Eas-
ton men out of the eighteen who were once connected with it.
This regiment was sent south to Savannah. Sergeant William
Crockett and George H. Richards were discharged August 26.
at the expiration of their term of service. George PI. Davis had
lost his health in consequence of privation and ill treatment
in Rebel prisons, where he had been confined since the battle
of Winchester. Though exchanged, the poor fellow had not
strength to reach home, and died on the way at Annapolis,
Maryland. Timothy Murphy continued in service until Septem-
ber 9, when he was discharged for disability.

Daniel E. Sanderson was. mustered out of the Tzuetity-eighth
Regiment June 30.

Only two Easton men remained in the Tzventy-nintli Regi-
ment, and they after hard service in Virginia were mustered out
July 29. They were Alfred Lincoln and Charles H. Smith.



Edward E. Randall was discharged from the Thirty-seventh
Regijnent ]i\r\e 30.

June 16, Gustaviis Alden was mustered out of the Fortieth
Regiment. Frank A. Mitchell, March ii, was commissioned
assistant-quartermaster, with rank as captain, and discharged
March 13 for disability, caused by a gunshot wound received at
Cold Harbor.

In the Fifty-eighth Regiment there were, at the beginning of
this year, eleven Easton men. This regiment was posted near
Petersburg, and held a dangerous and exposed position. It par-
ticipated in the battles of Fort Sedgewick and Fort Mahone.
John M. Randall died January 10 in the Rebel prison at Salis-
bury, North Carolina. May 1 1 Sergeant George A. Lackey was
discharged for disability, caused by a severe wound in the foot
received at Spottsylvania Court House, — a wound which has
necessitated two amputations of the leg below the knee and
several minor surgical operations, and has caused him great pain
and serious inconvenience ever since. Berlin White was, May
31, discharged for disability; also Nelson M. Randall on the
25th, and Orin S. Marshall on the 8th of June. George E. R.
Leighton was mustered out June 10, and Matthew Fisher June
19. First Lieut. N. H. Talbut, Second Lieut. Charles A.
Crocker, and John Fisher were discharged by reason of expira-
tion of service July 14, and also the following day Hiram A.
Monk. It deserves notice that Matthew and John Fisher, twins,
were sons of Peter Fisher, who was a volunteer with two other
sons in the Ninth Battery of Light Artillery, Mrs. Fisher re-
maining at home and carrying on the farm in the absence of her
husband and sons.

From the Nijith Battery just alluded to there were discharged
June 6, after active service before Petersburg in the closing
campaign : Patrick Conlan, Peter Fisher, Peter Fisher, Jr.,
Thomas Fisher, William D. Forsyth, George McFarland, and
John W. McDonald, — all Easton men.

From the Twelfth Battery, July 25, Corporal Richard M.
Davis and Bernard McDermott were mustered out.

June 26, James Roberts was discharged from the First Regi-
ment of Cavalry.

In the Fourth Regiment of Cavalry were three Easton men.


One of them, Lieut. Rufus H. Willis, resigned June 13 ; James
T. Morley was mustered out November 14 ; and Horace F. Pool,
after having been a prisoner in the Rebel prison at Salisbury,
died March i at Smithville, North Carolina. It is erroneously
stated in Adjutant-General Schouler's reports that he died at
Andersonville, Georgia.

There were in Battery H, First Rhode Island Light Artillery,
at the beginning of 1865 five men, and one in Battery G. They
were all mustered out in June. Other Easton men served in
organizations outside the State. John Fitzpatrick, Michael F.
Sheehan (who had once enlisted also for Easton), and Patrick
McCourt were serving, or had served, in New York regiments.

Hiram W. Copeland was in the Fii'st Rhode Island Cavalry,
and had also served for North Bridgewater in the infantry.

George H. Kelley was in the Thirteenth Illinois Cavalry.
The militar}' record of all these men may be read in the alpha-
betical list at the end of this chapter.

Here ends the brief and inadequate sketch of the history of
the Easton men who enlisted to subdue the Rebellion. It is at
best only a bare outline, but it could not well be otherwise
without exceeding the proper limits of this chapter. It would
be highly interesting to give the experiences of our men on
the march and on the battlefields, and repeat their stories of
hardship, danger, and hairbreadth escapes, or of suffering in the
Rebel prisons ; but to do so would require a book instead of a
chapter. The writer reluctantly avoids entering further into
this tempting field, and must leave to tradition the task of
transmitting to generations yet to come the memory of those
personal experiences.


The town of Easton was well represented in the United States
Navy during the Rebellion. Warren Packard, Charles H. Samp-
son, and Elijah Smith served for about a year on the United
States Steamship " Colorado." John McCready, dropping for pru-
dential reasons his own surname and substituting for it that of
McDonald, concluded to leave the infantry, thinking he might
serve himself and perhaps his country better in the navy, and he



enlisted in the "Alabama" and the " Santiago de Cuba." A
similar conclusion was reached by David A. Middleton and by-
Richard Powers, the former serving on several different vessels,
the latter enlisting and then vanishing into oblivion. Edward
McCready served a year on the " Flag." James Donovan and
Daniel E. Sullivan were firemen on the " Aries " for a year. The
latter believed himself credited to Easton, but the muster-rolls
credit him to Gloucester. Other instances of this apparent mis-
take occur; and it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the re-
cruiting officers, taking advantage of the inexperience of the new
recruits, sometimes themselves pocketed the sums offered by
different towns for recruits, and then without their knowledge
assigned them to the quotas of those towns. The war, in fact,
afforded many opportunities for stealing on the part of town offi-
cials and recruiting officers, the poor soldiers as well as the Gov-
ernment being the victims of such rascality. Oliver H. Blaisdell,
served on the steamships " Niphon " and " Sunflower." James
F. Gooch was a seaman on the " Honduras," and Benjamin T. Nye
was a carpenter's mate on the same vessel. John McCafferty
left college at Worcester, and entered service in April, 1861, on
the " Cairo," and afterward on the " New Era," and has remained
in the navy most of the time since. William Hepburn was
armorer's mate for a year on the " Massasoit." David Mulhern
served on the "San Jacinto" and "Hendrick Hudson," Charles
O'Brien was transferred from the Seventh Regiment to the gun-
boat " Benton," where he completed his three years, and then
re-enlisted in the navy. In addition to these Easton men, the
town had thirty-one other navy enlistments credited to it. Six
of these were voluntarily furnished by Easton men, who paid the
recruits large bounties. Four of this six and ten of the whole
thirty-one deserted. The exact particulars of the record of Eas-
ton men in the navy may be seen in the list at the end of this


"June 17, Voted, to refund all money contributed by individuals
during 1864, in aid of recruiting men to fill the quota of the town, pro-
vided the claim shall be presented in writing to the selectmen before
the first day of January next, and persons who have served one year in
the military service shall not be taxed to pay any part of said amounts.


"The whole amount of money appropriated and expended by the
town on account of the war, exclusive of State aid, was forty thousand
five hundred and three dollars ($40,503.00). The amount of money
raised and expended by ,the town during the four years of the war
for State aid to soldiers' families, and which was afterwards repaid
by the Commonwealth, was as follows: In 1861, $2,052.53; in 1862,
$5,947.40; in 1863, $4,905.56; in 1864, $4,800; in 1865, $2,800.
Total amount in four years, $20,505.59."^


It is not pleasant to record the fact that of the two hundred and
seventy-seven residents of Easton who volunteered in the service
eighteen were deserters ; but of these only four were natives of
Easton. It was the intention of the writer at first to publish
the complete record of all the Easton soldiers, not withholding
the fact of any one's desertion^ but letting the muster-rolls tell
their own story ; for it would be a falsification of history to give
the impression that Easton furnished no deserters. But the
writer has found by careful examination that the muster-rolls
were especially liable to error on this subject of desertion. Men
were sometimes taken prisoners, or were missing for good rea-
sons, and were reported deserters merely because their absence
could not be accounted for. There were five men of Company
G, Twenty-ninth Regiment, wrongly reported as deserters.^ It
would be a gross injustice therefore to record any one as a de-
serter unless his desertion were proven true beyond any shadow
of doubt, and the writer prefers to giv^e those thus accused the
benefit of the doubt where any exists. Besides, there are various
degrees of guilt in the matter of desertion. From a military point
of view, to desert to the enemy is justly regarded as a heinous
crime. But there were no Easton deserters in this sense of the
word ; our men did not go over to the enemy when they deserted
from our ranks. Two Easton men deserted because they had
trouble with an officer whom they regarded as overbearing. But
they immediately enlisted in the navy, and served the country
there. Two left for home only a few days before their time was

1 See Schouler's " Massachusetts in the Rebellion," vol. ii. pp. 129, 130. This
account was written by Joseph Barrows, Esq.

2 See History of the Twenty-ninth Regiment, M. V., pp. 260, 261.


oat, and when no more fighting was to be done. There were
two or three cases also where another bounty tempted men to
desert, — ■ not to leave the service, but to re-enlist. In other
instances " the spirit was willing, but the flesh was weak ; " so
that in sight or prospect of battle-smoke or leaden hail, men
took to their heels, — men born for peace and not for war, —
who are good citizens now, and who would be more severely
punished by being branded " deserter" in these pages than their
misdoing seems to warrant. There was, however, one Easton
man who boasted of having deserted eleven times. He lied
as to the number of his desertions ; but it is safe to say that
he deserted whenever he had a good opportunity.

The desertion of non-resident volunteers who were hired to
fill the quota is spoken of elsewhere in this chapter. But there
were men among our Easton volunteers whose conduct was
quite as blameworthy as that of these deserters, and truth to
history demands at least a general statement of the facts about
them. There was one case of an Easton man enlisting for a
bounty, who knew that he had a physical disability that unfitted
him for active service, but who intended to conceal it for a time
and then secure his discharge on account of it, — a plan which
he carried out to the letter. There were others who, so to speak,
kept sickness " on tap," and could turn it on at once when the
prospect of battle loomed up ahead. Such convenient maladies,
made to order at the slightest notice, were by no means confined
to private soldiers, as some of our Easton men can well remem-
ber. There was one instance of an Easton volunteer who was
taken (apparently) with an acute attack of some gastric trouble
a few hours before the regiment he belonged to was to start
for the front, and who was left behind on the presumption that
such an invalid would be an impediment, but who was seen the
same day at the railroad station on his way home curing this
dangerous attack by a copious dose of mince-pie and hot coffee !
On the strength of this illness he afterward went to some kind
of a gathering in an adjoining town, and there played the part
of an invalid soldier so cleverly as to excite sympathy enough
to collect over sixteen dollars for his aid.

To omit all reference to such facts ; to say that all men enlisted
solely for loyalty and patriotism, and not for bounties ; to imply



that every Easton man was a hero, and none was a sneak ; to
conceal the fact that men were known here in town secretly to
rejoice over Union defeats, and even to chuckle clandestinely
over the assassination of the immortal Lincoln, — this would
be to flatter a shallow town pride, but it would also be to leave
a false impression, and to omit those shadows which belong to
a faithful picture of the times. And yet these were hardly more
than spots on the sun. Easton nobly responded with money
and with men to the supreme needs of the hour ; and she has
no reason to be ashamed of the record her sons made on the
many bloody battle-fields where they met the foe. Many of them
left us never to return, and their ashes rest to-day in quiet
forest glades of the South, or on the hills and plains or beside
the murmuring streams where they poured out their blood in
defence of the flag they loved, — their graves undecorated save
by the wild, flowers dropped by Nature's kindly hand, and un-
celebrated by any requiem save that sung by sighing winds and
rustling leaves, and by the sweet songsters of the sunny land.

But the honor and gratitude we owe to the dead should not
blind us to the equal debt due to the living, who were spared
to return. They blistered under the fierce Southern sun or
shivered in the winter's cold. They trod wearily in dust or
mire through toilsome marches, often fainting beside the way.
They faced the ranks of glittering bayonets or lines of murder-
ous fire. They lay bleeding on the field, or languishing in the
hospital, or starving in Rebel prisons hopeless of safe return.
And many of them, by wounds and sickness that have enfeebled
them for life, are living martyrs still for the cause of Union and
Liberty, and are deserving the ceaseless gratitude of those for
whom they have made this costly sacrifice.

This chapter would not be complete if it did not recognize the
trials borne and the services rendered by the women of Easton
during the painful crisis in our country's history which we have
been considering. It was easier for men who were nerved by

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 51 of 78)