Unyielding Courage: Manchester’s Civil War Legacy
They Rallied Around the Flag: Manchester’s Heroes from the Civil War
Known at the time as “The War of the Rebellion” or the “War for the Union”, the Civil War is the watershed of the American Experience. It determined that the Federal Government would govern American destiny rather than individual states. It brought an official end to the evil practice of slavery. It spurred the industrialization of the North and the South. It has impacted the social and political history of the United States ever since.
It was a War with a fearful cost. 610,000 Americans died fighting each other. The number of dead exceeds all who died in American wars since the Revolution. Massachusetts fatalities numbered 13,942. Manchester, at the time a town of less than 1,700 inhabitants, sent more than 190 men to war, of whom 23 are known to have died in battle or later of wounds or disease.
Manchester Goes to War
On April 12th, 1861, Confederate cannons began the bombardment of the Union forces on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The next day, the American Flag was lowered, and the Fort surrendered. The Civil War had begun!
President Lincoln immediately called upon the loyal states to provide 75,000 men to serve three months to put down the Rebellion. Little did he or anyone else know how many more would be needed or how long it would take to defeat the determined and courageous Confederate forces.
More than 200 Manchester men answered the Call to Arms, serving in 45 different Massachusetts units. One hundred and fifty-four of these soldiers saw some level of combat, including action in some of the War’s most fearsome battles … Antietam, Fredericksburg, Second Bull Run, Chancellorsville, The Wilderness, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, and Petersburg. Another eleven Manchester men served in the Navy, all but one with various blockading squadrons in Southern waters.
Paying the Price – Seven brave men of Manchester were killed in action, six more died in the infamous Southern prisoner of war camps, eleven died of “fever” and dysentery and one drowned at sea. Forty-one other Manchester men were wounded in battle, five on multiple occasions.
No Massachusetts unit saw more action or suffered greater losses than the 12th Volunteer Infantry, formed in June 1861. Twelve men from Manchester served in this regiment. By the time the 12th was mustered out in July 1864, all but one of these local soldiers had been killed in action, wounded, died in captivity or discharged for disability.
In 1862, Major Russell Sturgis, Jr., a summer resident, was authorized to raise troops for Company A of the 45th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. He set up shop on the present School Street fire station site and, in one day, recruited 22 men, the largest number of residents to serve in any unit during the War. One of the first enlistees was William Wheaton, the owner of a small furniture-making shop. When Sturgis appointed Wheaton Sergeant, all his former employees joined the ranks.
The handsome handpainted tribute was presented to Sturgis upon completion of his 9-month tour of duty in 1863. Sturgis had recruited Manchester’s quota of 23 men when the 45th was raised in 1862 and was appointed Captain (later promoted to Major). The 45th saw action in North Carolina, resulting in several Manchester men being wounded but no battlefield fatalities. Shortly after, the regiment was mustered out in July 1863; however, Stephen A. Ferguson and Joseph A. Morgan died of fever.
Major Sturgis funded and organized the large leather-bound book after the War and contains fascinating personal accounts by many Manchester veterans.
Sturgis was deeply religious and is described as “devoting much time during the war between the states, offering spiritual consolation to the wounded and dying”. He was also responsible for the Emmanuel Church on Masconomo Street. It was built in 1882 by Sturgis as a “thank you” gift to his second wife upon the birth of the couple’s twins. Episcopal services continue to be held at Emmanuel during the summer months.
Crombie served with the 23rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Company G. You can find a photo online, where he is Bedecked in medals and wearing the official uniform of veterans of the Grand Army of the Republic. His black leather cartridge case is in the collection. Embossed on an inner flap is the name of the maker “J. Boyd, Manufacturers of Army Accoutrements, Boston. Enoch Crombie died in 1919, taken shortly after the photo was taken.
After the War, Crombie visited various battlefields, returning with a fascinating array of artifacts. He made the unusual ink well, adorning the wooded base with part of a bayonet attachment, six lead bullets, two mini-balls and two brass uniform buttons. Glued to the back is a newspaper clipping describing a battle, and on two sides of the inkwell are tiny photographs of a man and a woman, perhaps Crombe and his wife. This inscription is on the bottom of the base: “Brought home by Enoch Crombie, Smith’s Point, Manchester, MA 1897.”
Another Crombie souvenir of the War is a wooden cane from the Gettysburg National Cemetery. The top of the cane is embedded with a lead bullet, apparently part of a branch hit during that climactic battle.
Enoch Crombie served many years as Commander of Allen Post 67, G.A. R. and was one of the last Commanders. The Dodge Furniture Company made the wooden stand to mark his passing. The brass plaque reads, “In Memory of Comrade Enoch Crombie, G.A. R.”
A Wounded Hero Comes Home
Born in France in 1833, Julius F. Rabardy was one of over fifty craftsmen employed in Manchester’s thriving furniture-making industry when war broke out. At age 28, he joined the Union Army and soon saw action in the Civil War’s bloodiest battle.
Antietam Creek, Maryland, September 17th, 1862 – 70,000 Union troops under the command of General George McClellan attack the 40,000-man Army of Virginia led by General Robert E. Lee at Antietam. The carnage is dreadful: 11,729 Confederates killed or wounded; 11,657 Union dead or wounded, including Julius Rabardy, Private, 12 Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers of Manchester. The following is from his diary.
“The air is full of explosions and the smell of brimstone; missiles of all kinds strike the trees, and dead branches fall among the wounded. I was shot through the right thigh. A poor fellow with an uplifted arm begs for water. The arm is shot off, and the man speaks no more. A Confederate lies in front of me with a horrible wound. It is Hell. I close my eyes. It is probably from blood loss, sick at the sight of such carnage. I became unconscious. When I recovered, all was quiet.”
Rabardy was found and taken to a field hospital, where his wounded leg was cut off. Approximately 60,000 surgeries, about three-quarters of all operations performed during the war, were amputations, often performed without anesthesia. A fellow casualty in the hospital recalls Rabardy as the amputee who “kept the whole tent full of wounded men cheerful with his cheerfulness, singing the Marseillaise and other patriotic songs”.
Julius Rabardy returned to Manchester a hero and quickly became one of the town’s most respected and successful citizens. He was appointed Postmaster, published Manchester’s first newspaper, the Beetle & Wedge, and built the Rabardy Block on Central Street. On the first floor, he ran a variety store and, on the second, established the town’s first telegraph office.
Following the war, Julius Rabardy operated the Town’s first telegraph office in his “Block”. Floyd’s store remained in business until December 24th, 2002, in the cellar of the same building to make candy balls. His grandson, Frank Floyd, operated a popular variety store and confectionery.
Left for Dead on the Field of Battle
Henry Lee Higginson, a Bostonian who summered in Manchester, joined the Union Army at age 27 after the fall of Fort Sumter in 1961. He was appointed an officer of an infantry regiment but was later assigned to the First Massachusetts Cavalry under the command of his lifelong friend Lt. Colonel Greely Curtis, another Boston/Manchester resident.
On June 17th, 1863, just a few weeks before the battle of Gettysburg, the First Massachusetts Cavalry was ambushed by two regiments of Confederates as they rode into the small village of Aldie, Virginia. In the thick of things was Major Henry Higginson.
“In striking a man opposite me who was using improper language, I was knocked from my horse and found myself in the road. Over me was standing a man who I had unhorsed and who struck at my head. He then proposed to take me prisoner, but I told him I should die in a few minutes, for I put my hand under and found a hole in my backbone.”
As the fighting waned, Higginson lay on the field close to death. Luckily, his friend Colonel Curtis found and transported him to a field hospital.
Higginson describes his wounds: “I had a pistol ball in the sacrum, a good slash across the cheek, a punch in the shoulder, which was of little account and a bad whack on the head.”
The next day Higginson began an arduous journey back to Boston, where Dr. Cabot could finally find and extract the bullet from the base of his spine. If he had not done so, Higginson would probably have been paralyzed from the waist down.
Many years after the war, Higginson was approached by a stranger at Boston’s University Club following the dedication of a statue of General Joseph Hooker at the State House. The gentleman was General Thomas Rosser, one of a delegation of former Confederate officers invited to the ceremony. Rosser approached Higginson and touched him gently on the shoulder.” I want to see how good a job I did on your face that day at Aldie”, he said with a smile. Higginson stood, shook the hand of the adversary who had slashed his cheek and left him for dead many years before. The two old veterans then fraternized until the wee hours of the morning.
IN 1862 existed, the training camp of the 38th Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers. Four men from Manchester served with this unit: Andrew Crowell, Charles E. Gilson, Alfred S. Jewett and George H. Story. The following year the 38th was assigned to the Army of the Shenandoah under the command of General Philip Sheridan (see lithograph, far panel). On September 19th, 1863, the 38th was surprised by Jubal Early’s dawn attack at Cedar Creek, Virginia. The story was wounded, and Crowell was captured and spent the rest of the war as a P.O.W. Unlike most Manchester men taken prisoner, Crowell survived, although according to a fellow veteran, he had been “reduced to a skeleton”.
The framed certificate on the 3rd panel was presented to Alfred S. Jewett by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1870 for his “faithful service in suppressing Rebellion and maintaining the integrity of the Nation.”
“Created by order of Lt. General U.S. Grant in 1864, this certificate was presented to Manchester’s James H. Ireland, 40th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, part of the Army of the James. The certificate lists all the units of the Army, its commanders and principal battles and losses. Interestingly, the first general portrayed is General Benjamin F. Butler, widely regarded as one of the Union’s most incompetent field commanders. The South also despised him for his controversial command of New Orleans as the occupied city’s Military Governor. After being removed from active duty by Grant, he retired to Gloucester, was elected to Congress, and became Governor of Massachusetts four years later.
Thirty years after the end of the Civil War, these members of Manchester’s Allen Post 67, G.A.R. gather for a formal portrait on September 29th, 1898.
General Ulysses S. Grant is honored in this unique piece of folk art, combining his photo with jig-sawn decoration. See how cleverly the craftsman incorporated the initials of the future United States President into his tribune. Unfortunately, we have no information regarding the provenance of this piece.
“Commemorating Dead, the Honored Dead…”
One of the town’s most beloved landmarks is the Public Library on Union Street. Summer resident Thomas Jefferson Coolidge gave it to the town in 1887 to serve three distinct purposes. First, to replace the existing library that shared space in a multipurpose municipal building on School Street known as the Town House.
Secondly, Coolidge wanted a visible memorial to those brave souls who lost their lives in the War. And thirdly, the building was to serve as the Headquarters for the Allen Post, Number 67, Grand Army of the Republic (G.A.R.), named in honor of four Manchester soldiers who died in the “War of Rebellion’: brothers Isaac F. Allen and William H. Allen and two other un-related Allens, Edward P. and Benjamin Allen.
At the library’s dedication ceremony, Coolidge said, “We wish to commemorate the dead, the honored dead, who went forth when liberty was at stake when the country was in danger and endured the terrible hardships of war until the bitter end.”
“The other room in the building (referring to the G.A.R. Headquarters) is reserved for the soldiers who came through the war without losing their lives, and the best we can do is give them a comfortable room where they can meet to talk over old stories, to shoulder the crutch, and assist one another by sympathy and good feeling.”
Posing for a formal portrait in front of the Memorial Library are uniformed Sons of Union Veterans, Allen Post 67, Grand Army of the Republic. The year is around 1900, when most of Manchester’s Civil War veterans were in their 60’s.
Library benefactor Thomas Jefferson Coolidge was the grandson of President Thomas Jefferson. Coolidge, a hugely successful Boston financier, built a summer home in Manchester on what today is known as Coolidge Point. His distinguished and successful career included public service as a member of the Pan-American Commission and as U.S. Minister to France. Coolidge’s career, however, did not include military service. He paid $785 for a substitute to take his place in the Union Army – a commonly accepted practice in the North.
Celebrated architect Charles F. McKim, a friend of T. Jefferson Coolidge, designed the Memorial Library. McKim worked in the firm of Henry H. Richardson (Boston’s Trinity Church is a classic example of what became known as “The Richardsonian style) and later became a partner in the firm of McKim, Mead & White. Manchester’s library is considered a gem, enhanced by fine art, including a Tiffany stained glass window that McKim designed and gave to the library. McKim’s other notable works include the Boston Public Library and Symphony Hall.
Artifacts from the Allen Post 67, G.A.R.
1. Ceremonial sword and scabbard. Blade and guard are embossed with patriotic motifs and the G.A.R. monogram. Made by Patch & Fellows, Boston, this sword was possibly carried by the Post Commander in parades.
2. Brochure published for the Dedication Ceremony of the Memorial Library and Grand Army Hall, October 13th, 1887. There was the vaulted ceiling of the reading room supposedly influenced by the 12th-century library at Merton College, Oxford. The exterior of the handsome granite building was donated to the Town by summer resident Thomas Jefferson Coolidge and designed by noted architect Charles F. McKim.
3. Ceremonial medals are worn by representatives from Manchester’s Allen Post No. 67 who attended the annual “National Encampments of the Grand Army of the Republic” starting in 1866.
All medals include a local landmark and dignitaries such as war hero General Sherman, President Benjamin Harrison, and various G.A.R. Commanders-in-Chief.
In addition, Allen Post 67 would be represented at annual statewide celebrations hosted by Boston’s John A. Andrew Post 15.
4. Manchester Cricket article highlighting the 50th Anniversary of Allen Post 67 in 1918, Edwin P. Stanley, Toastmaster. Stanley served with the 19th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry and was one of sixteen Manchester men captured and incarcerated in a Confederate P.O.W. camp. He was lucky enough to be exchanged for a Confederate prisoner in 1862, the last year this humane practice was observed. Six other Manchester prisoners died before the war ended.
5. Ceremonial baton with gilded ball and tassels carried during G.A.R. parades.
6. Led by a uniformed band, members of Allen Post 67 march down Union Street on their way to board the train to a G.A. R. convention in Boston in 1905. Leading the veterans Charles H. Stone, perhaps carrying the sword.
In 1905 Pulsifer Block at the corner of Union and Beach Streets was a two-story building, the town’s telephone exchange occupying the 2nd floor. On January 18th, 1906, a fire destroyed much of the building, and the 2nd floor was permanently removed.
7. Memorial Day Parade in the 1920s, the marchers passed the now one-story Pulsifer building. Leading the parade is once again Comrade Stone, now the last surviving G.A.R. Veteran in Manchester. Comrade Stone died in 1927 at age 82.
8. Souvenir plate from the 1918 G.A.R. Encampment in Portland, Oregon, brought home by local G.A.R. representative Edmond P. Stanley. The Multnomah Hotel hosted the convention.
9. Another wonderful tradition was the G.A.R. Campfires, where veterans would gather with old comrades for an informal reunion. Here, “regardless of former rank, they would sit and partake of the simplest fare, sing the old war songs, smoke their pipes and swap stories ( and lies) about the War.”
10. The Allen Relief Corps published Cook Book in 1905 to support their charitable work for Allen Post 67 veterans and their subsidiary organization, The Sons of Veterans. The Allen Relief Corps was founded in 1889 as the local chapter of the National Woman’s Relief Corps.
11. A little New Testament Bible has a big story to tell. It was published by the Oxford University Press in England in 1863 and was carried by a British sailor on board an Anglo-Rebel Blockade Runner, the Minna. You can find the handwritten account of its adventures as it finally found a new home in Manchester’s Allen Post 67.
12. “Programme” for a Memorial Concert at the Town Hall Memorial sponsored by Allen Post 67 on May 30th, 1873. The lengthy program includes two” Readings” and twenty musical numbers, including nine by a group identified only as Old Folks.
The 35-Star Flat of the United States
This extremely rare flag with 35 individually hand-sewn stars became the Official Flag of the United States in 1863 when West Virginia separated from Virginia to join the Union. It remained the official U.S. flag throughout the Civil War until a 36th star was added for the new state of Nevada in 1865.
Fighting for the Union in the Wild West
One of the more fascinating stories of the entire War involving a local soldier is that of Samuel Foster Tappan. Born and raised in Manchester, Samuel was a journalist covering the western migration in Colorado when the Civil War erupted. He had already served in the Free State Militia, fighting several years in “Bloody Kansas”, helping to keep that territory free of slavery. In response to Lincoln’s call for troops, Tappan joined the 1st Colorado Volunteer Regiment and was sent into the mountains to recruit the gold miners as captains. For his efforts, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, second-in-command.
In 1862, when Confederates from Texas moved north intent on capturing the gold mines in Colorado, Tappan’s regiment joined forces with the 1st Regiment New Mexico Volunteers commanded by legendary frontiersman Kit Carson. The Union and Texas forces collided in New Mexico around Glorieta Pass, fighting four separate battles over several days. The action, which successfully curtailed any future Confederate threat, was so fierce and strategically important that it became known as “The Gettysburg of the West.”
Tappan, at age 31, greatly admired Kit Carson, 20 years his senior and wrote this about the opening battle of the campaign: “Colonel Carson rode up & down the line and by a vigorous application of a stick over the heads and shoulders of his men, and using terrible threats, made them do their duty…Kit made them fear him more than the enemy.”
This further account by Tappan underscores the hatred that so sadly characterized the war: “Lieutenant Baker of my Company was severely wounded during the early part of the engagement, and afterward beaten to death by the enemy with the butt of a musket or club and his body stripped of its clothing. He was found the next morning, his head barely recognizable, so horribly mangled….”
Following service together, Colonel Carson presented now-brevet Colonel Tappan an engraved sword in memory of their friendship and time shared as brothers in arms.
“Presented to Col. S.F. Tappan 1st Reg. Colorado Vols. By Kit Carson,
Col. 1st reg. N.M. Vols. Fort Craig N.M. April 25th, 1862″
After the War, Tappan remained in the West, becoming a strong and effective advocate for the rights of Native Americans being forced from their hunting grounds and historical lands. He saw their mistreatment as comparable to the enslavement of the black man for whom the Civil War has been so bitterly fought. Tappan served on several government committees, including the Indian Peace Commission of 1867-68, signing three treaties, including one with the Navajos, who still recognize this treaty today.
Nearly every year, Samuel Tappan would return to Manchester, where he had many relatives, but resided in Washington DC until he died in 1913. He is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
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