Brookline Historical Publication Society
PUBLICATIONS, NO. 10.
BROOKLINE IN THE CIVIL WAR
By KATHERINE ROBINSON BRIGGS.
J. Murray Kay Prize Essay for 1896.
The Brookline of 1861 was a very different town from the Brookline of today. The inhabitants numbered only about a third of the present population, and with the exception of a few residences of Boston business men, the land was divided into large farms, many of which have been since cut up into house lots. But then, as now, the citizens were wealthy and public-spirited, and they spared neither their lives nor their fortunes in lending support to the government.
The firing on Fort Sumter, April 12th, 1861, created in Brookline the same wild excitement that it aroused in many other cities and towns all over the country.
On the fifteenth of April, President Lincoln issued a call for seventy- five thousand men, and, on the twentieth, the day after the attack on the gallant Massachusetts Sixth in Baltimore, some prominent Brookline citizens called a meeting to consider matters in relation to the war. The president of the meeting, John Howe, a soldier in the war of 1812, had received a land grant 1
for services rendered to the government; this he promised to transfer to the family living in Brookline, who should first lose a husband or father.2
In accordance with a motion made by Wilder Dwight,3
a committee of seven was appointed "to prepare a plan for the organization of one or more companies in the town of Brookline."
Two private subscription lists were opened, one to raise funds to be used for general purposes, the other for money to buy materials for the work undertaken by the ladies.
The meeting adjourned until the 22d, when a military commission was appointed to take charge of all military arrangements which should be made by the town. This committee was to draw on a military fund for such amounts, at such times and for such uses as the majority of the committee should determine.
The following citizens were chosen to serve for one year as a Military Committee: Moses B. Williams, chairman, James A. Dupee, Marshall Stearns, William K. Melcher, Nathaniel Lyford, Thomas B. Hall, Thomas Parsons, William Aspinwall, James Murray Howe, Edward A. Wild.
This commission, with one or two changes,4
served the town faithfully for two years, and at their resignation the Selectmen undertook the work of enlistment and the other duties which the war involved.
At this meeting, it was voted that a list be opened for all the male inhabitants who wished to be drilled, and that the Military Committee form them into corps. Furthermore, it was voted that a military fund be raised by a town tax, the sum not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars.
At a regular town meeting on the 29th, the proceedings of the 20th and the 22d were confirmed and the amount of the military fund to be raised was fixed at seventy-five hundred dollars.
On the 23d of April, Brookline's first soldier, William D. Goddard, 5
enlisted, soon to be followed by many of the young men6
of the town. The call for troops was urgent. Recruiting went on everywhere, and Brookline was not behind the other cities and towns in the state. The first gun fired on Fort Sumter was Wilder Dwight's summons to arms. He suffered not a day to pass, after the news from Sumter, before opening a subscription paper to pay the expenses of the regiment, which he had determined to raise. There was no law, however, either of the United States or of the Commonwealth, under which this enterprise could be carried into operation. It was necessary to obtain from the Secretary of War special authority for the enlistment and control of the proposed regiment. For this purpose, Mr. Dwight and Mr. Andrews left Boston for Washington on April 25th, 1861, going via Annapolis, while the excitement which followed the Baltimore riot was at its height, and the usual communication with the capital was cut off. They had a personal interview with the Secretary, after which they formally submitted their plan. In a day or two they received the following communication:--
"WASHINGTON, April 28, 1861.
To Messrs. Wilder Dwight and Geo. L. Andrews:
"The plan which you communicated for raising a regiment in Massachusetts for service during the war, meets my approval. Such a regiment shall be immediately enlisted in the service of the government, as one of those which are to be called for immediately. The regiment shall be ordered to Fort Independence, or some other station in Boston Harbor, for the purpose of training, equipment and drill, and shall be kept there two months, unless an emergency compels their presence elsewhere.
I am, gentlemen, very respectfully,
SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War."
May 24th, Wilder Dwight was enrolled as major in the Second Regiment Infantry, Massachusetts Volunteers.
Besides the young major of the Second Regiment, three other young men of the town, Edward A. Wild,7
William L. Candler8
and Charles L. Chandler,9
volunteered to recruit a company. Their offer was accepted, and the town hired the hall in the Anson Guild Block, corner of Boylston and Washington streets, as a drill hall and recruiting office. The citizens came forward eagerly to sign the roll, and soon a company of some thirty or forty men was formed, which drilled daily under Wild and his two lieutenants, Candler and Chandler. Chandler was particularly anxious that the men should be in good marching trim. On one occasion, never to be forgotten by the men, he marched his company double-quick from the Town Hall to Corey Hill, thence to Jamaica Plain, and back again to the Town Hall.
In May the three officers received their commissions, Wild that of captain, and Candler and Chandler those of first and second lieutenants respectively, in the company they had raised.
Wild's command was mustered into the United States service May 25th at the old Franklin School House, Boston, by Colonel Harrington of Brookline, as Company A of the First Regiment Infantry, Massachusetts Volunteers.
The company was raised and equipped entirely by the town of Brook line. The Military Committee gave the three commissioned officers each a camp-chest and one hundred and twenty-five dollars, the privates five dollars for the purchase of equipments. The ladies of the town, with funds raised for the purpose, fitted out the men with necessary shirts, stockings, etc.
From the barracks in Faneuil Hall, the First Regiment went into camp in Cambridge, and on the fifteenth of June started for the front. It was the first three years' regiment which reached Washington; in fact, it was probably the first three years' regiment raised in the United States service.
In May the town engaged Jacob Miller, formerly a sergeant in the United States army, as armorer and drill master, and the citizens formed themselves into companies for daily drill.
By public request the Selectmen removed the fence between the Town Hall10
(now the Police Station) and the Pierce Primary School, thus forming a good parade ground for the daily drill. At night the manual of arms was practised in the Town Hall or Armory.
The children caught the spirit of their fathers, and some forty or fifty boys between the ages of twelve and fifteen, banded themselves into a company known as the Brookline Rifles. They procured all their own equipments without expense to the town and conducted their own drills, nor did their interest flag during the four long years of the war. The "Rifles" became noted, and were invited to give exhibition drills all over the state.11
At this time, too, the town first adopted the idea of military drill in the schools. Another instance of the interest and spirit awakened in the children by those stirring times was a newspaper edited by a boy of nine. It was printed in a childish hand on brown wrapping paper, and contained different items of war news, interspersed with an occasional illustration.
Sometime in the summer of 1861, by order of the Selectmen, the Assessors took a list of all the male inhabitants between the ages of eighteen and forty-five. According to this list, there were six hundred and sixty-seven men; of these, many were unfit for service - a hundred at least were aliens, and of the remainder, not more than two-thirds could pass the medical examination. This left but three hundred and seventy-eight able-bodied fighting men.12
Through the kindness of the New England Guards, two guns were procured; a squad practised during the summer, and in September they almost all enlisted in the Tenth Massachusetts Battery. While Brookline was represented at the front, she had in civil appointments such men as Edward Philbrick,13
and Henry Lee, Jr.15
The year 1862 opened sadly for the town. In February, news was received of the death of Herbert Barlow,16
the first of her sons to fall in the war. The funeral services over his body were held in the Harvard Congregational Church, now the Bethany Building.
Although the Military Committee was untiring in its efforts to enlist men, this was not always an easy task, as perhaps the following anecdote will show. An Irishman was hired by the town; to make sure that he reported, a member of the committee took him to the recruiting office in Boston and delivered him over to the officer in charge, with the words, "Now he is your man; keep hold of him." Three times between the date of his enlistment and the departure of his regiment, did a squad of soldiers come out to Brookline to take the man back to the barracks.
All through the first year of the war, a company nick-named the Home Guard had drilled under Sergeant Miller, but in June the number had been so reduced by the frequent enlistments, that the town deemed it best not to re-engage the drill master.
The first enthusiasm had worn off; so that in July, when three hundred thousand men were called for to recruit old regiments and to form new ones, the Selectmen found it necessary to hold a meeting "to take into consideration what course it will be best for the town to take in enlisting its proportion of men, and to secure such enlistment as soon as possible." It was decided to offer a bounty of one hundred dollars.17
Again, in August there was a call for three hundred thousand men, to be filled on or before August 15th; after that date the necessary number was to be made up by a draft. At the mention of a draft, all was excitement. Posters were put up, reading as follows: --
AUGUST 9TH, 1862.
RALLY TO YOUR COUNTRY'S CALL!
"The citizens of the town of Brookline are invited to meet in the town hall at eight o'clock Saturday evening, August ninth, to consider what measures should be taken for the immediate enlistment of the quota of troops called for from this town.
Let it not be said that the patriotism and liberality of the old town of Brookline are not equal to that exhibited by citizens of other towns and cities of our old Bay State."
A number of young men, just from the army of the Potomac, addressed this meeting. The citizens gave money generously to the Military Fund, and several volunteered to send men. It was voted to request the Selectmen to call a town meeting, and with three rousing cheers for the Union they adjourned until the twelfth. Upon that day the people assembled, amid the firing of cannon, ringing of bells and the music of a band. The report of the Military Committee that the roll was full and more than full was received amid great applause.
The citizens were always eager to hear from their townsmen who had been at the front. On one occasion when Colonel Wild was at home,18
a delegation of five was appointed to wait upon him and request his presence at a meeting then going on in the Town Hall. The enthusiasm with which the people received him and his words, showed the love and admiration which they felt for him.
The women of Brookline were as earnest in their branch of work as the men. They began to roll bandages the very day the news was received of the firing on Fort Sumter, and they worked hard and steadily all through the war. A sewing circle was formed. It held meetings in Panter's Hall, which the owner had offered to the ladies j but most of the work was done under the auspices of the different church societies. Besides the societies, the ladies worked in their own homes,19
and many of them lent their aid to the Sanitary Commission in Boston. The women showed great ingenuity in devising comforts for the soldiers. Great oblong bags, sewed on three sides and fastened with tapes, made a very comfortable bed when filled with hay or straw, or even dry leaves. Little water-proof bags for coffee, and comfort bags, filled with sewing materials, were made!20
The night before the Twenty-Sixth Regiment started for the front, one of the men carne out to Brookline to see his wife and to bid her good-bye. He had been furnished with an army overcoat, unlined and not very warm. There was no time to buy anything. What was to be done! A lady with whom his wife was living at the time, produced a new gray flannel bathing dress. The soldier's wife, with a friend, worked the whole night, and by morning a nice warm overcoat was ready.
On the twenty-sixth of August, 1862, occurred the bloody battle of the second Bull Run. The despatch telling of the capture of all the hospital supplies and the urgent need of surgeons, reached Boston late one Saturday night. Mr. George B. Blake of this town set out in his chaise to arouse the people of Brookline, Roxbury and Brighton. He first called on his fellow-townsman, Mr. Twitchell, then president of the Boston & Worcester Railroad. The two men remained closeted for one or two hours, when Mr. Blake again started out in his chaise to notify the ministers of the different churches; this was considered the most effectual way of spreading the news. After Mr. Blake's departure, Mr. Twitchell wasted no time; he telegraphed in all directions for cars and engines to be in readiness to transport the so much needed supplies and surgeons to Washington. Means also had to be provided for transporting the goods across New York City-a very difficult thing to do. By church time Mr. Blake had notified the ministers of the different churches. There were no services that day; in some cases the congregations dispersed, going in little groups to work at the houses of the members, while in others the people remained at church and worked.
The method of work at the Baptist Church, then the largest denomination in Brookline, is typical of the earnest patriotic spirit of all the congregations. After a short prayer the people were dismissed and immediately set to work, without any attempt at organization or any appointed head. Everything moved, however, like clock-work. Some went to their homes for materials, while others set to work cutting cotton cloth, which had been sent from the stores, into different lengths. This was taken home, shrunk, dried, and within an hour was being stripped into bandages, rolled tightly, fastened, and the number of yards marked on the outside. Every hand that could hold a needle was kept busy. The children too had their work, and numberless were the errands on which they were sent. Nor were the men and boys idle; they ransacked stores and houses for barrels, firkins, and boxes of all kinds, which they brought to the church. There they began the work of packing the shirts, stockings, slippers and bedding which poured in. Nothing was too good to give, delicacies of every kind, and even things entirely unfit for sickness were given with open hearts. Choice old wines and jellies, put up for the coming winter, were as generously furnished as was clothing. One lady sent a set (one dozen) of linen shirts, just finished for her husband." The people did not go home to dinner, but made a hasty lunch of cake and sandwiches, which had been sent to the church.
By four o'clock, twenty tons of goods were on their way to the station, where they were packed into two freight cars; in Boston these were joined to eight other cars, containing the contributions of Boston and the surrounding towns. Mr. Twitchell volunteered to see the goods safely delivered in Washington and was accompanied by Dr. T. E. Francis of this town, and others, who went as surgeons and nurses.22
Thanks to the unflagging energy of Mr. Twitchell and the promptness of Colonel Adams of the Adams Express Company, who generously forwarded the goods free of expense, the supplies reached Washington and were being distributed among the wounded and suffering before seven the next Tuesday morning.
On Mr. Twitchell's return, a few days later, such was the intense interest to know the condition of our wounded, that a public meeting was held in the Baptist Church, then the largest building in the town. Mr. Twitchell's address was clear and satisfactory. He read a letter written by the President's own hand, thanking the people of Brookline for their prompt aid -- a letter which was emphasized by most grateful, verbal messages.
Money was given to the Military Fund in many different ways; a unique instance is on record. On September 12th, 1862, the Military Committee received a letter from Co!. Thomas Aspinwall, enclosing the sum of one hundred and eighty dollars and twenty-nine cents, being two-thirds of the net profits of a lot of his land, "sold by auction for the benefit of our soldiers engaged in the suppression of the present rebellion."
At the annual town meeting in September, a unanimous vote was passed "that the thanks of the town be and hereby are tendered to all the volunteers from this town, now in the field." At this same meeting it was proposed that a general property tax be levied at the rate of three dollars on every thousand; and at a special town meeting on the second of October, the Military Committee reported that they deemed it expedient to raise the necessary money by the proposed tax.
In the latter part of September another of Brookline's sons, Wilder Dwight,23
was brought home to be laid in his last resting place. His last wish, "I have lived a soldier, I die a soldier, I wish to be buried a soldier," was carried out. The procession, as it moved from his home to the church, was escorted by a detachment of the Forty-fourth, and his war horse followed with boots hanging reversed on the saddle. The band of the Massachusetts Second, anxious to follow their beloved commander to the grave, joined the procession on its way to the Brookline cemetery.
All through the year of 1863 the town was as active as ever in recruiting men, and spared neither time nor money.24
But this work was now well systematized, and the frequent citizens' meetings of the first years of the war were not found necessary. Those that were held were chiefly for the purpose of keeping up public interest by patriotic speeches and music.
On the twenty-second of November of the same year the Town Treasurer was authorized by the Selectmen to borrow ten thousand dollars for recruiting purposes. This action caused a great deal of comment, and at a meeting held December 4th, doubts were expressed as to the legality of the act. Mr. Parsons in addressing the meeting said that" he didn't know whether it was legal to put down the rebellion or not, but for his part he thought it was best to get the men and do all that they could to fight it out, legal or not." The people voted to sustain the action of the Selectmen.
Nothing of especial interest happened during the year of 1864. In answer to the call of the seventeenth of October, for three hundred thousand men, Brookline enlisted seventy-five - three more than her quota - and shut the doors of her recruiting office, as she hoped, for the last time. But in a few days came another summons; her quota this time to be forty-eight. She sent out in less than one month, one hundred and twenty men. And so the war dragged on until, in April, 1865, the joyful news came of the fall of Richmond and Lee's surrender.
The news that Lee had surrendered and that the war was over at last, reached Brookline early in the afternoon. People went fairly mad with joy; one girl rushed over to her minister's and hugged and kissed him. People in the upper part of the town went to the Unitarian Church to send the tidings far and wide by the joyful pealings of the bell. A very short and slight young girl in her excitement seized hold of the rope all alone; the bell swung one way with a deep clang, but returning, it carried her up to the ceiling, through which the rope passed. Her neighbors helped her down from the perilous position, and united their strength in making the old bell ring as it had never done before. Soon the Unitarian bell was answered by all the other bells in town.
Mrs. Henry F. Dana's house was more effectively illuminated than any other. The windows were the old-fashioned kind, with twelve small panes, and when a candle was placed in each pane in every window, the display was most brilliant. Many of the houses were festooned with bright bunting, and such value was put on the American flag that a lady of the town was obliged to pay five dollars for two flags, which could be bought for twenty-five cents today. A great jubilee meeting was held in the Town Hall, where people laughed, cried and cheered; shook hands with everyone they knew and everyone they didn't know, doing any thing to give vent to their feelings.
Five days later came the terrible news of the assassination of Lincoln.
Again bunting was displayed, but this time it was black. Broadsides were posted, reading as follows: -
"WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON,
April 20th, 1865.
The Murderer of our late beloved president Abraham Lincoln is still at large.
Will be paid by this department for his apprehension, in addition to any reward offered by Municipal Authorities or State Executives.
Will be paid for the apprehension of John H. Surrat, one of Booth's accomplices.
Will be paid for the apprehension of David C. Harold, another of Booth's accomplices."25
There followed an exhortation to all good citizens not to harbor any of the three above-mentioned men under penalty of death, and to do their best to aid public justice. Then came a description of the three men. The broadside was headed by three gallows, with the name of one of the murderers under each.
The great Civil War is a thing of the past, but the memory of those who offered their lives at their country's call, and of the martyr, who yet survived to see the triumph of the Union, will live forever in the grateful hearts of a nation.
This list is intended to include the name of every man engaged on the Northern side who lived in the town from 1861 to 1865, or who could fairly be called" a Brookline boy" by birth or education. It is perhaps too much to hope that this list is entirely free from errors or omissions, since the original records give in each case the town enlisted from rather than the residence.
Daniel D. Adams,
George E. Archer,
D. W. Atkinson,
Benjamin F. Baxter,
George A. Bailey,
Paschal Barrell, Jr.,
Herbert S. Barlow,
J. Nelson Bogman,
George C. Burrill,
Edward C. Cabot,
William L. Candler,
Charles D. Cates,
Edward A. Chamberlin,
George B. Chamberlin,
J. H. Chamberlin,
Charles L. Chandler,
Burnham C. Clark,
John W. Clark,
Charles G. Colbath,
William B. Cowan,
John B. Cusick,
Thomas J. Cusick,
James A. Dale,
G. F. Dearborn,
William Dwight, Jr.,
Charles A. Dwyer,
Horace N. Fisher,
John Herbert Fisher,
Joseph W. Funk,
George W. Funk,
J. Frank Getchell,
Louis G. Getchell,
Luther H. Gilman,
Warren H. Goddard,
Charles E. Griswold,
Willard Y. Gross,
Charles O. Hallet,
William F. Hall,
John C. Hardy,
Nathaniel P. Harris,
Frank E. Howe,
Elisha A. Jacobs,
William H. Jameson,
Arthur Ii Kemp,
John D. Kelly,
Malcolm G. Kittredge,
Alonzo B. Langley,
R. C. Lincoln.
William E. Long,
Charles B. Maynard,
Charles B. McCausland,
Frank H. McIntosh,
Frederick H. Mellen,
Michael P. Mulrey,
Mark B. Mulvy,
William W. O'Connell,
Charles L. Perry,
Edward S. Perry,
Julius A. Phelps,
Albert A. Pope,
Hiram P. Ring,
George P. Richardson,
Edward B. Richardson,
James M. Richardson,
Spencer W. Richardson,
William C. Richardson,
William E. Richardson,
James F. Robinson,
George R. Rogers,
Charles E. Rollins,
George M. Rollins,
Charles H. Sargent,
Aug. N. Sampson,
Frank H. Scudder,
Henry C. Scudder,
William B. Sears,
Edward N. Selfridge,
Mark Wentworth Sheafe,
William (?) Sherriff,
Carleton A. Shurtleff,
Daniel W. Simpson,
James W. Sinclair,
George A. Slack,
Charles C. Soule,
George T. Stearns,
James P. Stearns,
Lyman P. Stephens,
George H. Stone,
H. V. D. Stone,
J. Kent Stone,
Clarence H. Thayer,
John Gorham Thayer,
Thaddeus. J. Townsend,
Wm. Henry Trowbridge,
Fergus B. Turner,
E. Clifford Walker,
W. H. Warren,
J. H. Wellman,
W. L. Wellman,
William H. White,
Horace C. Whitfield,
B. F. Whitehouse,
C. H. Whitney,
J. H. Whitney,
Edward A. Wild,
Burt Green Wilder,
Alfred Winsor, Jr.,
Gershom C. Winsor,
James C. Withington,
John C. Withington,
Horace P. Williams,
John S. Woods.
John S. G. Aspinwall,
Charles L. Bixby,
Joseph F. Green,
Winslow L. Hallett,
Samuel G. Lamson,
D. F. Lincoln,
Stephen T, Longfellow,
Charles B. Pine,
Thomas O. Selfridge,
Thomas O. Selfridge, Jr.,
George G. Stoddard,
Henry W. Wells.
COMMISSIONERS OF PLANTATIONS.
Edward S. Philbrick,
Richard Soule, Jr.
Printed in December, 1896.