Grantham Men In The Civil War
Allan Walker President of the Grantham Historical Society
September 22, 1995
Grantham had reached a peak of population in the 1840s with about 1200 inhabitants, but by the time of the Civil War the population had declined to about 800. Reasons for the decline were immigration to the west, to cities and land taken from Grantham (annexed to other towns). Cornish got a small piece of Grantham in 1844 and so did Enfield. Plainfield got all the land west of the mountain in 1856.
During the Civil War 39 men from Grantham were in the military. Two of these were not actual residents: Spencer Dowse is listed as a Plainfield resident living in the part of Grantham annexed to Plainfield. He and his brother James Dowse enlisted together and James was a Grantham resident. The other is Alonzo Crooker who lived just over the town line in Croydon. I include him because he had many Grantham connections and enlisted along with several Grantham men.
Of the 39, there were 13 fatalities during the war; three from combat and ten from disease. Seven were discharged as disabled either from wounds or disease; one person drowned, two deserted and one simply disappeared and is listed as N.F.R. or "No Further Records". He was probably also a deserter.
In this record I intend to briefly describe the units in which the men served and then tell what happened to individuals from Grantham in that unit.
The 16th N. H. Volunteer Infantry: This regiment has the saddest history of any N. H. unit. The regiment was sent to guard New Orleans which was occupied and governed by Union Forces, and the 16th was sent on a number of wild goose chases through the swamps of Louisiana and Mississippi searching for Confederates and seldom finding any. The Regiment suffered greatly from disease from the start, small pox, dysentery, malaria and God knows what else. Add in the difficulties of climate, wading through swamps and sleeping on wet ground and drinking swamp water. There is no wonder the 16th was ruined by disease. The statistics tell the story. Out of 213 fatalities, 210 died of disease, two died in unspecified accidents, one man, a Private Johnson, was actually shot at the siege of Port Hudson but after being shot he fell in the river and drowned and is officially listed as a drowning victim.
In the summer of 1863 the regiment was in such a terrible shape with everyone sick that the War Department declared them unfit for duty and ordered them sent home. They went up the Mississippi by steamboat and at Vicksburg, General Grant sent his Staff Physician to inspect the regiment. The Doctor was so appalled by their condition that he ordered that the sickest be taken aboard the floating hospital the Union Army had at Vicksburg. The rest proceeded up the river to Illinois and then went by rain to N.H., some dying on the way.
Four Grantham men served in the 16th; Lewis Biathrow Jr., was 23 and newly married when he enlisted. He died of disease in New Orleans in June 1863. Spencer Dowse was 37 and married when he enlisted. He also died of disease in June 1863 in New Orleans. James Dowse was 28. He died in August 1863 in Buffalo, N.Y. on the way home. Moses T. Stone was the only survivor. He was 27 and had been promoted to Sergeant. He was mustered out August 20, 1863 back in N.H.
5th N.H. Volunteer Infantry: The 5th was
the finest regiment ever to come out of N.H. and arguably the finest fighting
regiment the Union Army ever had. They
were in almost all of the great battles in the East:
Yorktown, Fair Oaks, Malvern Hill, Antietam, Fredericksburg,
Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Cold Harbor, Siege of Petersburg and at Farmville,
VA on April 7, 1865 just two days before Lee's surrender.
The statistics of the 5th are unmatched by any other regiment. They had 458 total deaths, more than any other unit. During the Civil War it was usual for regiments to have many more deaths from disease than from combat. But the 5th reversed this. They had 282 killed in action but only 135 died of disease. Another 29 were unaccounted for, probably killed in action and their bodies never recovered.
Edward E. Cross was the first Colonel of the regiment. At Fredericksburg out of 19 officers, eight were killed and several others wounded including Colonel Cross. Six color bearers were shot down. The army report says "Colonel Cross behaved in the most handsome manner, even though severely wounded." The Colonel recovered from his wounds only to be killed on the second day at Gettysburg with the 5th in the thick of battle. After the war the State of N.H. had a monument erected to honor the 5th on the spot where Colonel Cross met his end.
man who served in the 5th could take pride in it.
The history of the Regiment states, "All casualties were the result
of hard, stand-up fighting. Never
from blunders or routs".
Three men from Grantham served in the 5th. Albert Eastman was 28. He enlisted early in 1861 and got a $10 bounty. He was wounded 6/3/64 at Cold Harbor, VA, discharged disabled in Oct. 1864. He didn't come back to Grantham but settled in West Brookfield, VT. Van Buren Woodbury was 18. He also got $10 bounty. He died of disease in Alexandria, VA in Jan. 1862. He had only served three months. He is buried in the Dunbar Hill Cemetery. Stephen M. Thornton had the longest war of anyone from Grantham. He enlisted in the 1st N.H. Vol. Inf. in April 1861 for three months. He was only 18. Mustered out of the 1st in August 1861, he then enlisted in the 5th and was finally discharged in November 1865 after four and one half years in service. He did not return to Grantham but settled in Bainbridge, N.Y.
N.H. Volunteer Infantry and 9th N.H. Volunteer Infantry
After the Antietam Battle, both regiments were transferred to the West and served at the Siege of Vicksburg and minor skirmishes in Mississippi. Then both regiments did a spell of duty guarding railroads and chasing confederate guerrillas in Tennessee and Kentucky, and then were sent back East to take part in the great battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor and the Siege of Petersburg.
Both the 6th and 9th were solid fighting regiments with fine records though not the equal of the 5th N.H. They had almost identical statistics: the 6th had 388 total deaths, 197 from disease, 158 killed in action and 13 drowned. The 9th had 386 deaths, 214 died of disease and 143 killed in combat.
There were five Grantham men in the 6th: Norman Tobine, age 21, enlisted in Sept. 1861, was wounded at Bull Run August 1862 and died disabled at Philadelphia in September 1864. Orlando W. Corliss, age 21, enlisted September 1861, made Corporal January 1864. Discharged Disabled July 7, 1865. Roswell A. Walker, age 28, enlisted September 1861, wounded at Bull Run August 1862, discharged Disabled January 1863, moved to Morenci, Michigan. Samuel Currier was a special case; he was 39 when he enlisted and twice married. His first wife, Maria, died in 1851. His second wife, Elvira, received $12 a month support from the town while Samuel was away. Samuel served all through the war, rose to the rank of Sergeant, never was sick and never wounded. He returned to Grantham and Elvira and almost lived to the 20th century, dying in 1899. George H. Thornton, age 18, was unlucky. He enlisted in November 1861 and less than four months later on 3/2/62, he died of disease at Hatteras Inlet, N.C.
Three men from Grantham were in the 9th Regiment. Francis Howe was 40 when he enlisted in July 1862 and married to Emily. He was badly wounded at Fredericksburg December 13, 1862 and died from wounds March 27, 1863 in Washington. Francis Howe was buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Frederick H. Howe, age 18, enlisted July 1862. A year later he transferred to the 13th Regiment and came through the war unscathed. John G. Shedd, age 22, enlisted in July 1862 and died of disease in September 1863 at Paris, Kentucky.
2nd Regiment U.S. Volunteer Sharpshooters: The Sharpshooters were elite units organized not as State Units but Federal Troops who might be recruited from several States. They had special uniforms and equipment and had to pass a test in marksmanship. This test required a recruit to put ten shots in succession into a target ten inches in diameter at 200 yards. That would be pretty good shooting with today's rifles with telescopic sights; with the rifles of the 1860's it becomes almost phenomenal.
The Sharpshooters had relatively low casualties because of their tactics. Their method was to find secure firing places behind the battlefront and pick of enemy soldiers at long distance. Although they were at just about every battle in the Eastern Theater, only 25 men were killed in action, and only 20 died from disease or other causes.
Only one man from Grantham was in the Sharpshooters and he only lasted thirteen months. Thomas B. Alexander, age 25, enlisted in September 1861 and was discharged Disabled in October 1862.
14th N.H. Volunteer Infantry: More men from Grantham served in the 14th than any other unit. The 14th was recruited almost entirely from Cheshire and Sullivan Counties. Company l was formed entirely of men from the North End of Sullivan County and all Grantham men were in this Company.
The 14th was not the most distinguished of Civil War Regiments. But it did have one distinction: it did more traveling than any other Regiment, making four sea voyages, over 15,000 miles total and serving in seven of the Confederate States.
There were two memorable events in the 14th's history. One was the Battle of Opequan Creek (also called the Battle of Winchester, VA) which was the only real battle the regiment ever faced. And the other was their first sea voyage to Hilton Head, S.C. when they were caught in a hurricane of Cape Hatteras.
At the Battle of Opequan, in the Shenandoah Valley Campaign, the 14th made a charge from the right of the Federal Line. Eight officers and forty-six enlisted men were killed. Later, at Cedar Creek, another twelve enlisted men were killed.
Thirty years afterward, 14th veterans still talked about the Hatteras Hurricane when they believed their ship would flounder and that the end had surely come. The end had come for young Charles Leavitt of North Grantham. He was washed overboard and never seen again.
The 14th did guard duty in New Orleans, served as the Military Government of Savannah and Augusta, Georgia, and raised their own 14th flag over Fort Sumpter, S. C. after the Confederate surrender.
The 14th had sixty-six killed while 144 died of disease, one drowned and eight died in Confederate prisons. Eleven men from Grantham served in the 14th:
John S. Gault, age 37, enlisted in August 1862, made Corporal in 1864, discharged in good health July 8, 1865, buried in Hilldale Cemetery, Grantham.
Newton Clough, age 22, enlisted August 18, 1862, made Corporal January 1, 1865. Discharged Disabled May 22, 1865 and moved to Brownfield, Maine.
Francis S. Clough, age 20, Newton's brother, enlisted August 18, 1862. Died of disease March 12, 1863 at Poulesville, MD, buried in Hilldale Cemetery.
Charles H. Leavitt, age 18, enlisted August 22, 1862, lost at sea July 17, 1864
Horace F. Brown, age 22, enlisted August 21, 1862, died of wounds September 19, 1864, Opequan
Daniel C. Currier, age 21, enlisted August 20, 1862 with rank of Corporal, disabled and reduced to Private June 17, 1864. Made Corporal again October 1, 1864. Buried Hilldale Cemetery.
Dudley J. Pillsbury, age 26, enlisted August 18, 1862, made 2nd Lt. October 9, 1862, died of disease August 11, 1863 in Washington.
Wareham M. Miller, age 18, enlisted August 25, 1862, died of disease August 23, 1863 in Washington.
Thomas J. Morrill, age 23, enlisted August 20, 1862 as Sergeant, made 1st Sergeant January 1, 1865, discharged July 8, 1865. Moved to Tilton.
Lyman P. Saunders, age 33. Enlisted August 21, 1862, discharged July 8, 1865 as Private.
Benjamin Whitaker, age 18, enlisted August 18, 1862, wounded September 19, 1864 Opequan, made Corporal September 20, 1864, discharged July 8, 1865.
William Wallace, although not a Grantham boy, was born in Lebanon, NH, and was living in Newport when he enlisted in the 14th. However, after the war he lived in Grantham and is buried in Hilldale Cemetery, Grantham.
The 17th N.H. Volunteer Infantry: This outfit was either sad or comical or perhaps both. During the War the War Department never recognized this as a Regiment. It was only in 1890 that the N. H. Congressional Delegation got a Bill passed in Congress that recognized the Regiment as official.
When the 17th was formed N.H. was scraping the bottom of the barrel for men. Henry Kent of Lancaster, a prominent N.H. Politician, was in charge of raising the Regiment and was named Colonel. The Regiment was housed in a makeshift camp in Concord on the East Bank of the Merrimack all through the War. They never saw any action, but served as a source of replacements for units at the front.
There was little training and discipline was lax. Desertion was rampant. Six Grantham men were in the 17th and their record was something less than proud.
Frank Clark, age 18, enlisted November 22, 1862, transferred to 2nd N.H. Infantry April 16, 1863, mustered out October 9, 1863.
William C. Putnam, age 18, enlisted November 22, 1862, transferred to 2nd N.H. Infantry April 16, 1863, mustered out October 9, 1863, moved to Lancaster.
Charles H. Brown, age 22, enlisted November 22, 1862 as Sergeant, transferred to 1st Co., N.H. Heavy Artillery April 20, 1863 as Corporal, made Sergeant November 11, 1864. Discharged September 11, 1865, moved to Lisbon.
Thomas Wentworth, age 29, enlisted November 21, 1862, then disappeared, listed as N.F. R. (No Further Records).
John Smith, age 22, enlisted November 21, 1862, then listed as deserter and N.F.R.
Manley W. Morgan, age 19, enlisted November 20, 1862. Deserted April 1, 1863 from Concord. After the War there was a Presidential Proclamation giving amnesty to deserters and draft-dodgers. Morgan showed up in Concord, reported to the Adjutant General and was pardoned.
2nd Company, N.H. Heavy Artillery: Now we come to the luckiest soldiers from Grantham. The second largest number of six Grantham men were in this outfit and little did they know what a favor they were doing themselves by enlisting in the 2nd Co., Heavy Artillery. They were buying a ticket on the gravy train.
You see, the 2nd Company spent almost the entire War at Camp McClary in Kittery, ME assigned to guard the Portsmouth Navy Yard. Since the Confederates never got within 500 miles of Portsmouth, their duty was neither dangerous nor very onerous. They had comfortable housing at Camp McClary, three square meals a day, a good medical care and plenty of free time to explore the delights of Kittery and Portsmouth.
In May of 1864 they were sent to Washington and did guard duty around Washington in the summer and fall of 1864 but never saw combat. In February 1865 they went back to good old Camp McClary and guarded the Navy Yard till the War ended. Again statistics tell the story. The 2nd had just three fatalities. Two men died of disease and one poor fellow died in an undescribed accident. Seven men from Grantham served in the 2nd Company:
Lucius A. Buswell, age 24, enlisted August 25, 1863 as Sergeant, made 2nd Lt. February 4, 1864 and 1st Lt. September 29, 1864. He must have been a promising young man. Mustered out September 1865, he died two years later in an accident in Sunapee, NH.
Nathan J. Hastings, age 20, enlisted August 25, 1865, made Wagoner May 1, 1865 and Corporal July 3, 1865. Discharged September 11, 1865 he came back to Grantham and lived until 1925 becoming the oldest Civil War Veteran in Grantham.
Washington L. Howe, age 36, enlisted August 25, 1863, discharged Disabled November 19, 1864, returned to Grantham and lived till 1910. Buried in Hilldale Cemetery, Grantham.
Simeon, age 27, enlisted August 25, 1863. Discharged Disabled November 21, 1864.
Orin A. Stocker, age 18, enlisted August 26, 1863, mustered out September 11, 1865.
Leonard F. Shaw, age 27, enlisted August 26, 1863, mustered out September 11, 1865
Alonzo Crooker, age 21, enlisted September 5, 1863. Discharged Disabled October 14, 1864
Natives of Grantham who served in the War but were residents of other towns when they enlisted: Perhaps the saddest story is that of the Sargent Brothers, Moses and Aaron. Moses Sargent was 42 when he enlisted in the 11th N.H. Volunteer Infantry August 15, 1862 and living in Landaff, N.H. He was killed in action May 12, 1864, Spotsylvania, VA. Aaron Sargent enlisted August 9, 1862 in the same Regiment. He was 41 and living in Canaan. He was killed in action June 16, 1864 Petersburg, VA just a month after his brother.
Gloria Conklin of Williamsburg, VA, a descendant of the Buswell Family of Grantham, told me that one of her Buswell ancestors had gone to Vermont and enlisted in the Sharpshooters. The only Buswell I found any record for is Lucius Buswell of the 2nd Company. Heavy Artillery.
Personal Recollections: My father, then a boy, knew both Washington Howe and Alonzo (Lon) Crooker. Wash Howe, as he was called, lived in the house now occupied by the Gibson family, the oldest standing house in Grantham. The school then had no water supply and students had to carry water from the Howe House. All father remembered about Wash Howe was that he seemed very, very old. Lon Crooker was a different story, he lived only a mile or so from my grandfather's house and father enjoyed regular visits to Lon and his wife Lucy. Lon received a pension of $30 per month, which was good money in 1900, and with their cows, pigs, chickens and twenty-two cats, Lon and Lucy lived very comfortably. They had no children. Lon was a huge man, weighing 300 pounds or more. Father liked to hear Lon's Civil War tales about hand to hand combat, trampling over dead bodies, etc. - of course, these stories were hearsay and imagination - Lon never saw any combat action.
Finally a small mystery. Daniel R. Clough died in 1861 and is buried in Hilldale. A flag is at his stone indicating he was a veteran. But there is no record of a Daniel R. Clough, serving in any N.H. Unit. His brother Francis buried close by and he definitely was a veteran of the 14th. Another brother, Newton, served in the 14th, but he moved to Maine and presumably was buried there. Also Daniel died in 1861, when the War had only just begun. How could he be a veteran?
Written and Submitted by Allen Walker, September 22, 1995