The following is from The History Sutton, NH by Augusta H. Worthen. pages 800-801. Transcribe by Don Davis 8/1/00
Captain Richard ELA was the second son of George W. and Adelaide (Lane) Ela, and was born at concord , Feb. 12, 1840. The death of his mother when he was three years old was the cause of his spending part of childhood with his grandfather, Dr. Lane, in Sutton, the rest being spent with his father. He attended the public schools, and later, the academies at Franklin, Pembroke, New London, and Meriden. Having graduated from the latter in 1858, he at once commenced the study of law in the office of George & Foster, in Concord, attending lectures at the Harvard Law School, and was admitted to the Merrimack county bar.
The war broke out, and he entered the service as first lieutenant of Company E, Third Regiment of, N.H, Vols., being mustered in Aug. 22, 1861. While at Camp Sherman, at Long Island, he appointed judge-advocate of the Regiment. The Third Regiment was with General Sherman at Hilton Head, and during the stay of several months sickness visited them, and this, with some being detailed for duty elsewhere, so reduced the number of officers that for six months, with few exceptions, he was the only officer with his company.
In April, 1862, he was promoted to a captaincy. In July following he was assigned to the command of the forces on Pinckney Island. He returned in September to Hilton Head, where sickness prevailed to such a degree that, for a time but one captain besides himself was on duty. His own health suffered severely, and he was given a leave of absence for twenty days.
In March, 1863, he was assigned to duty as second in command of provost guard at Hilton Head. He was with the first expedition against Charlestown, and participated in the fighting on Morris island in July, 1863.
In April, 1864, the regiment was sent to Virginia to join in the operations against Richmond. Captain Ela's last letter to his father was dated at Gloucester Point, Va., April 30, 1864. Thirteen days later he fell in the charge which captured the first of the outer defenses of Richmond. In the desperate charge at Drury's Bluff he led his men to within twenty paces of the enemy's breastworks and died.
The adjutant-general's report says,-'The fighting last but twenty minutes, but in that time more than tow hundred of New Hampshire's best and bravest fell dead or wounded. Among the foremost fell the gallant Captain Richard Ela, while in advance of his men. leading them to the charge. He was shot through the brain, and expired almost instantly.' His body was buried on the field of battle.
Captain Ela was a brave and faithful officer. From the time of entering active service the complement of officers was never full. He was always on duty, and the work of absent ones fell on him. Officers and men alike bore testimony to his ability, his fatihfullness, and kindly thoughtfulness of others. He was never marked off duty, and at the end of tow and one half years of service he was the only one of the original officers who had not been home. Regard for duty was the key-note of his character. Had he lived it would have made him a useful and honored citizen; dying as he did, it made him a hero.
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