William L. (William Ladd) Chaffin.

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

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the excitements and moved by the stirring sentiments of the
hour to go to the scene of struggle, than it was for their wives
and mothers to bid them farewell, knowing they might never
see them again. Brooding over their separation from husbands,


sons, and brothers, and harassed by torturing anxieties in the
quiet of their homes, the women sometimes had a heavier burden
of pain and self-sacrifice to bear than did the men whose absence
was deplored. But they bore it with patience and with a patri-
otic spirit. They did not stop to repine, but took an active
part in rendering such services as lay in their power. They or-
ganized societies and circles for making garments, for preparing
lint and bandages, and for collecting such delicacies and neces-
sities as would alleviate the condition of the sick and wounded
in field and hospital. In all such efforts our Northern women
were indefatigable, and many a life was thus saved ; many a
soldier's heart was animated with new courage, and beat with
grateful love as he received from the home he had left these
tokens of thoughtful affection, these comforts and blessings
which made his hard lot so much easier to bear.


In Schouler's " Massachusetts in the Rebellion," vol. ii.
pp. 129, 130, is the statement that the number of enlistments for
the town of Easton was three hundred and thirty-four. This
number is too small by fifty-one. The actual number, ascer-
tained by thorough examination, is three hundred and eighty-
five. Of these, two hundred and forty-two were residents of
Easton at the time of enlistment, and one hundred and forty-
three were non-residents, who were hired at various times to fill
the town's quotas. But besides these there were thirty-five
residents of Easton who enlisted and were credited to other
towns. Easton therefore contributed two hundred and seventy-
seven citizens as soldiers to enter the ranks of loyal men, and in
addition to this hired one hundred and forty-three non-residents.

These non-residents, though credited to Easton, were many of
them anything but a credit to the town. More than one third
deserted of the seventy-one whose record it was possible to follow.
Some of them skipped away with their bounty a few days after
enlistment. One Isaac H. Baker enlisted and deserted on the
same day. Most of these "bounty jumpers" were cunning
enough to enlist under assumed names, and therefore several dif-
ferent names upon the military rolls often represent but one man,
— who was in fact not a man, but a sneak and a thief. Some


shrewd fellows by their successive enlistments and desertions
made small fortunes. It was impossible to hold them in our
poorly guarded recruiting camps if they really were determined
to desert. At the front they were sometimes a source of weak-
ness rather than of strength, for there were cases where one
regiment was needed to guard a regiment of these bounty men
and keep them from running away. Several thousand dollars of
Easton money went into the pockets of these rascals ; and yet
the town's duty was fulfilled in hiring them,


The two Easton soldiers who gained a higher rank than any
other of our volunteers were Robert Dollard and John Fitz-
patrick. Of these the former was an Irish-American, born in
Fall River ; and the latter an Irishman, born in Ireland. Both
were living at the Furnace Village, and both were in the employ
of the Belchers at their foundry. Both also were brave soldiers,
and after other service were officers of colored troops. Both at-
tained the rank of major, though the second named had his only
by brevet. The first is still in the prime of life, an influential
citizen of Dakota ; the second fell a victim to disease contracted
in the service, and thus died a martyr to the cause : his ashes
sleep in the quiet of the Roman Catholic cemetery in this town.
It is fitting that these two brave and efficient officers should
have a prominent notice in this chapter.

Robert Dollard is the son of Thomas and Mary (Colyer)
Dollard, and was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, March 14,
1842. Thomas Dollard the father came from the county of Kil-
kenny, Ireland, which, if common tradition about that county be
true, may help to account for the excellent fighting qualities of
the son. At the age of sixteen years Robert was obliged to
depend upon his own exertions for a living ; he worked on a
farm for two years, and then in i860 became an apprentice to
Daniel Belcher at his foundry in Easton. While in the employ
of Mr. Belcher, an incident occurred which well illustrates the
brave spirit that early animated him. The chimney of the fur-
nace was about ninety feet high, having a square flue about two
feet in diameter and very smooth. At the chimney-top, over-



hanging the flue, were some loose bricks that it was very desir-
able to have removed, as they endangered the safety of workmen
below. The melter remarked: " I will give twenty-five dollars
to any man who will remove those bricks." " Will you make
that offer to a boy .'' " asked young Dollard, Being answered
affirmatively, he began to work his way up the smooth flue. By
incredible exertions he reached the top and removed the bricks.
The descent now threatened to be even more perilous than had
been the ascent ; while at the same time the intrepid youth
began to realize that his strength was giving way. Several
times, in attempting the descent, he slid down rapidly perhaps
ten feet, bruising his hands and knees ; but by a desperate effort
he was able to check himself, and bracing against the sides of
the flue, to gain a moment's breathing spell. At last, lacerated
and bleeding, and covered with soot and dirt, he emerged from
the bottom and presented himself to the view of the amazed
workmen and villagers who had rapidly collected to witness the
daring feat. The twenty-five dollars was fairly won, but the
boy declined it.

Dollard was a member of Company B of the Fourth Regiment
Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, and started with them April i6,
1 86 1, for Fortress Monroe. From this service he was mus-
tered out July 22. He joined the Havelock Guards at Boston,
September 5 ; and this company disbanding, the members were
assigned to companies of their choice in the Twenty-third Mas-
sachusetts Infantry, in which, September 28, Dollard was made
sergeant of Company E. This regiment served in the Burnside
expedition, was at the battles of Roanoke Island, Newbern, Golds-
borough, etc. It served also in General Foster's expedition to
co-operate with General Hunter's attack on Charleston, South
Carolina. Dollard returned to North Carolina in April, 1863.
He had now become second lieutenant, and on recommendation
of his superior officers was made a captain in the Second United
States Colored Cavalry, which it was then understood would be-
come a part of the regular army. In March, 1864, this regiment
was ordered to Suffolk, Virginia ; and shortly afterward his com-
pany with three others, numbering about two hundred men with
two small howitzers, were drawn into an ambush and attacked
by over three thousand Rebel infantry and a regiment of cavalry,


with six pieces of artillery. With the memory of the massacre
of colored troops at Fort Pillow in mind, where no quarter was
given, Captain Dollard and his companions struggled desperately,
and succeeded in extricating themselves with a loss of. thirty
men, fifty horses, and one howitzer. In this fight Captain Dol-
lard made a charge in which he drove the enemy's cavalry into
Suftblk. Later in the struggle, in order to shield himself from
the thickly flying bullets, he was obliged to escape Indian fash-
ion, throwing himself on the nigh side of his horse, holding by
the right leg to the saddle, and by the right hand to the breast-
strap. By a plunge of his horse he was thrown to the ground,
but lay still for a few seconds, being screened by a board fence
near which he had fortunately fallen, and then in the general
confusion made good his escape.

After the battle of Suffolk, Virginia, Captain Dollard was en-
gaged with others at the battle of Jones's Bridge, on the Chick-
ahominy. No impression had been made upon the enemy's
works, until Captain Dollard, who had been ordered to take a
squad of men on skirmish duty on the enemy's extreme left,
came close to them under cover of the timber. Here he planned
a piece of strategy. Arranging with his men that he should
shout, " Second Battalion, charge ! " loud enough for the Rebels
to hear it, so as to give the impression that instead of a small
squad there was a battalion, he led on the attack. The ruse was
successful, and the enemy retreated so hastily as to leave horses,
arms, and equipments behind them. Captain Dollard and his
little band occupying the works, and this at the very moment
when the Union headquarters' bugle was sounding a retreat.

Through the spring and summer of 1864 Captain Dollard and
his little squadron of cavalry saw much active and dangerous
service ; and it is said that an advance which he made April 9,
1864, drew the first fire from the Petersburg works, this being just
a year before the last shot on the Petersburg line. We cannot go
into detail in this narrative sufficiently to describe all the engage-
ments in which our captain took part. September 29, 1864, he
led the advance of the Union right at Deep Bottom, "Virginia,
where, after driving the enemy out of his rifle-pits, he was dan-
gerously wounded. General Butler, then commanding, in prais-
ing officers and men for their gallantry in this engagement, said :


" Capt. Robert Dollard, Second United States Cavalry, acting as
field officer and in charge of the skirmish line at New Market
Heights, inspired his command by his great personal bravery,
coolness, and ability, until he fell severely wounded near the
enemy's main line ; and he is hereby promoted to be major."

Though kept out of service for a time by his wound. Major
Dollard assumed command of his regiment before Richmond in
December, 1864, being one of the youngest regimental officers in
the army of the James and Potomac. He remained in active
service until the close of the war, although suffering from the
open wound in his head, where he continued to carry a portion
of the bullet that struck him down at New Market.

At the close of the war in June, 1865, Major Dollard was
ordered to place his regiment on board transports at Hampton
Roads preparatory to sailing for the Rio Grande, this being at
the time when Maximilian was in Mexico. But a report got
abroad among the colored troops that they were to be kept in
service for five years to raise cotton to pay the national debt.
This led them to mutiny, and soon they became a dangerous
mob ; but by prompt and decisive action, and with the aid of a
white regiment, the Major succeeded in getting them under con-
trol, arrested thirty of the ringleaders, and a few days later pro-
ceeded to sea, notwithstanding threats from the colored troops
that they would overpower the thirteen officers and take the
ship. This command soon formed a part of the United States
army in Texas, who were there to vindicate the Monroe Doctrine,
threatened with violation by the presence of a French army in
Mexico. February 12, 1866, Major Dollard was discharged, after
a nearly continuous service of four years and ten months.

The Major shortly afterward located at Galesburg, Illinois,
where he engaged in the grocery and provision business, which
however he soon abandoned, spending the following year in the
South. He returned to Galesburg in 1868, began the study of
the law, was admitted to the Bar in 1870, and has been engaged
in a general law practice ever since. In 1875 he married Caroline
E. Dunn, of Yates City, Illinois, daughter of Imri Dunn, Esq. ;
they have no children. In 1879 Major Dollard located at Da-
kota, and since 1880 has resided at Scotland, Bon Homme
County, in that territory. He was one of the leading members


of the Constitutional Conventions of South Dakota in 1883 and
1885, was unanimously elected district-attorney of his county in
1884, and then attorney-general of the proposed State of South
Dakota in 1885,

This extended notice of Major, now Attorney-General, Dol-
lard seems justified by his character and ability, by the eventful
career through which he has passed, and the bright promise
that is yet before him. The town of Easton may well feel proud
of having sent into the war so brave a soldier and so true and
able a man.

John Fitzpatrick was born in Ireland, October 20, 1834.
He came to this country with his widowed mother in 1851, and
settled in Easton, Mass., where he served an apprenticeship as
moulder with Daniel Belcher. He was a member in i86r of
Company B of Easton, and in January had voted "yes" in an-
swer to the question to the members of that company asking if
they were willing to go into active service if called for. John
however did not go with his company in April as his friend
DoUard did, for he was not ready on so short notice to leave his
widowed mother. But when he saw that war had begun in ear-
nest, he arranged his affairs and went to New York, and there,
September 5, he enlisted as sergeant in the New York Sixty-
third Regiment, — this regiment forming a part of the Irish
Brigade, so well known for its excellent fighting qualities. Fitz-
patrick was then twenty-seven years old, having a fair education,
possessing very good skill as a penman, and with the qualities
altogether of a man of character and ability. He soon secured
the position of second lieutenant. In a letter written from Vir-
ginia to Daniel Belcher, dated January 3, 1862, he describes the
journey of his regiment from New York to Washington. He
says : " From the time of our departure at the pier in New
York until we reached Washington, two thirds of the regi-
ment were in a beastly state of intoxication. One man jumped
overboard and two others died in the cars from the effects
of rum. When we reached Philadelphia our appearance beg-
gars description, — all covered over with blood and filth, black
eyes and cut faces, and hats caved in, and so on was the order
of the day. I never saw, and hope never again to see, such



a degraded and God-forsaken crew." In this condition they
reached Washington, November 30, and much to Fitzpatrick's
chagi-in, were sent at once to the front. He expresses a strong
and wholesome indignation against the many forms of miscon-
duct he saw in the army, and says : " We have about fifty incar-
nate fiends in our regiment, who are not fit to live in the same
sphere with decent people." He had exciting personal encoun-
ters with some of them in the way of enforcing discipline.

Like a loyal Irishman, Fitzpatrick expresses great disappoint-
ment at the Government giving up Mason and Slidell. " I had
great hopes," he writes, " that we should have a war with the
bastards of Great Britain. With me it would be an individual
war, a squaring up of old accounts, an outlet for the pent-up
revenge of five hundred years handed down from sire to son."

March 27, 1862, our young soldier was appointed first lieu-
tenant in the Fourth Regiment New York Volunteers. Under
date of September 19 of this year, he wrote to his mother a
very interesting description of the battle of Antietam, where he
says, " I had the honor of being under fire in action on the 17th
from six in the morning until five in the afternoon." The
following excellent description of the work in front of the Irish
Brigade deserves to be perpetuated in print : —

"Max Webber, though a very fine fellow, made an atrocious blun-
der in bringing us into action. Instead of throwing out skirmishers
to feel our way, he brought us up within two hundred yards of the
Rebel line before we could see their dirty, ashy uniforms, while the
scoundrels were leisurely waiting our nearer approach and drawing
a bead on every blue jacket. Notwithstanding this advantage over
us, we gave them the first round and immediately they returned fire.
The scenes of carnage and murder that followed without a moment's
interval for the next ten hours I will not attempt to describe. My
company broke in two halves after the first fire ; the captain and
myself tried to close them up again in line in order to keep a firm
front. In doing this, Captain Downs was shot through the groin and
died within an hour. About the same time my sword scabbard was
torn off by a bullet, and another struck the toe of my shoe between
the sole and welt, doing no further injury than to rip the sole from the
the point. As we fired our eighty rounds the order was given to
charge. We did so, and took out eighty-five prisoners; and filed out of



action with a loss of two hundred men, two officers killed, and four
wounded. In coming out I was struck on the shoulder by a piece of
shell, bruising me a very little, in fact not worth speaking of. However,
it left me minus a shoulder-strap. I had a narrow escape from death
on several occasions, for which I can never be too grateful to God.
After we filed out, the second line came up, in which was the Irish Brig-
ade, going exactly over our ground. I can never forget that glorious
charge of our countrymen. Their line was solid, every man in his
place ; and without a word they fired one round. Then the green, bat-
tered, powder-stained, riddled flag was thrown to the breeze. A wild
yell and brilliant charge followed. The Sixty-ninth and Sixty-third
came off the field, each having but one hundred men left."

For meritorious service Fitzpatrick v^^as commissioned, Novem-
ber 10, a captain of Company H of the Fourth New York Vol-
unteers, then known as Scott's Life Guards, with rank dating
from October 23, he having been already in command of Com-
pany A. Under date of December 20, 1862, he writes to his
mother, giving her a spirited account of the battle of Fredericks-
burg, which he says the soldiers truthfully called " Burnside's
slaughter-house." He describes the charge of the brigade to
which he belonged, and says that —

" Colonel McGregor stepped in front with an expression of anger
when our men faltered under the terrible fire; but his features relaxed
when he saw how quick the men closed up. ' Follow me. Life Guards ! '
he said, and away we went double-quick with a cheer, over the level
plain, under a murderous fire of artillery. Every few moments a man
would scream and fall down. We reached the first line of rifle-pits ;
the sharpshooters retreated. Colonel Andrews, our acting Brigadier-
General, ordered us to lie dov/n in shelter. He stuck his nose in the
mud like a hedgehog, and there we would have remained ever since
had not Hancock's division come up in the second line and passed
right over us. There walked the intrepid Hancock and fearless
Meagher (the only general officers on the field) in the rank of file
closers, with captains and lieutenants, cheering the men onward.
Where are Couch and French ? Where are our three brigade generals ?
Nobody knows; everybody knows. 'Get up! forward, everybody ! '
roared Hancock. Up we jumped and on we went."

The letter goes on to describe the terrific carnage which fol-
lowed, compared to which Fitzpatrick speaks of Antietam as



a skirmish. " Yes, we are back again," he writes, " after being
whipped, beaten, disheartened, disorganized, demoralized."

On the 25th of May, 1863, Captain Fitzpatrick was discharged,
and returned to Easton to his old employment. But he could not
remain content at home while brave men were needed at the front.
Mr. Belcher interested Oakes Ames, then in Congress, in the
Captain, and through him he received the appointment of second
lieutenant in Company C of the Thirtieth Regiment of Colored
Volunteers, with the understanding that this regiment would
form part of the regular army. Fitzpatrick at this time passed
the West Point examination. The date of this second enlist-
ment was February 13, 1864. In this organization he rose to
the command of captain, and saw plenty of hard service, of which
the writer has hardly any data at hand to give a narrative.
Robert Dollard has however furnished one very interesting in-
cident of Fitzpatrick's experience, as the latter related it to him.
July 30, 1864, at the mine explosion in front of Petersburg, the
division in which Fitzpatrick was a captain led the charge, and
it was mercilessly slaughtered. Chief among the commands
opposed to it was that of General Mahone, now United States
Senator from Virginia. After the battle an armistice to bury the
dead was arranged. The ground was strewn with the bodies of
the black soldiers who had fallen by hundreds. Captain Fitzpat-
rick met General Mahone, and they engaged in conversation on
war topics, during which Mahone, pointing with his foot to the
dead bodies of the negro troops, said indignantly, '' Next, you will
be fighting ?is zvith dogs'' He did not foresee the day when he
himself would solicit, and be elected by, the votes of negroes !

Captain Fitzpatrick was at one time in command of Roanoke
Island. At that place he was discharged December 10, 1865.
May 10, 1866, he was appointed major by brevet, "for faithful
and efficient services," his appointment having the autograph
signatures of Andrew Johnson and Edwin M. Stanton. His
health being much impaired by his military service, he removed
to Chicago and did some light work, having charge of a foundry
in that city ; but his strength gave way to such an extent that
he returned to Easton to his mother's, where he lived only about
a year, dying December 8, 1869. No green turf in town rests
over the remains of a braver soldier or more loyal man than


that which covers the grave of Major John Fitzpatrick. Let
us hold his name in honored and perpetual remembrance !


The following alphabetical list gives the record of Easton men
who served their country in the suppression of the Rebellion.
Great care has been bestowed upon it, and errors so far as pos-
sible avoided. Where no rank is given, that of private is to be
understood ; and the enlistments are for Easton, unless otherwise
designated. Some persons whose names are below will notice
that the dates and other statements here given do not, in all cases,
harmonize with those they have reported to the writer. ' He has,
however, copied directly from official documents, deviating from
them only when they have been proved to be incorrect.

Alden, Gustavus, Company F Fortieth Regiment ; mustered in Sep-
tember 3, 1862 ; discharged June 16, 1865.

Alden, Warner, Battery H First Rhode Island Light Artillery; mustered
in for Rhode Island October 14, 1862 ; discharged June 28, 1865.^

Andrews, George W., first sergeant Company G Seventh Regiment ;
mustered in June 15, 1861 ; promoted second lieutenant August
II, 1862 ; promoted first lieutenant February 2, 1863; resigned
June 17, 1863.

Ashley, William C, Company C Fourth Regiment ; mustered in Sep-
tember 23, 1862 ; discharged August 28, 1862.

Baker, Charles, Company B Fourth Regiment; mustered in April 22,
186 1 ; discharged July 22 ; re-enlisted, corporal Company A
Twenty-fourth Regiment, September 12 ; discharged for disability
September 2, 1862,

Barrows, Abbott B., Company G Sixtieth Regiment ; mustered in July
19, 1364 ; discharged November 30.

Bartlett, John, Company G Twenty-ninth Regiment ; mustered in No-
vember 9, 1861 ; discharged December 30, 1864.

Bean, Thomas, corporal Company A Thirty-ninth Regiment; mustered
in August 18, 1862 ; discharged June 2, 1865.

Bellows, Charles, Company B Fourth Regiment ; enlisted April 16,
186 1 ; died at New York on steamboat, April 19. Was not mus-
tered into service.

^ One authority gives the date of discharge of Warner Alden and his comrades
as July 3. The above date of June 28 is however official, being furnished the writer
by the Adjutant-General of Rhode Island.



Bird, Virgil, Conipanj' K Eighteenth Regiment ; mustered in August
24, 1861 ; discharged for disability September 28, 1862.

Blaisdell, Daniel B., Company B Fourth Regiment ; mustered in April
22, 186 1 ; discharged July 22 ; re-enlisted Company G Twenty-
ninth Regiment, October 31, to serve as body-servant of Colonel
Pierce ; came home with him, and declined, as explained on a pre-

Online LibraryWilliam L. (William Ladd) ChaffinHistory of the town of Easton, Massachusetts (Volume 3) → online text (page 52 of 78)