In late 1864 into early 1865, the 2nd Massachusetts Heavy Artillery was stationed in New Bern, NC on garrison duty. Company M included 16-year-old James Lucey, my 2nd great-grandfather.
In the fall of 1864 there was an outbreak of yellow fever in New Bern. An epidemic which took the lives of many, including 23-year-old fellow private and Worcester, MA native Luther Webber.
Early in 1865, the 2nd Mass Heavy Artillery was called upon to join General Jacob Cox’s Provisional Corps that were to move towards Goldsboro, ultimately to join with Sherman’s army. Just south of Kinston, near Southwest Creek, they ran into Confederate forces under the command of Gen. Braxton Bragg.
Bragg’s men attacked the Union flanks and captured an entire regiment, the last mass capture of Union troops in the war. However, miscommunication allowed the Union army time for reinforcements to arrive and fortify its position. Bragg was forced to withdraw, thanks in no small part to the heavy artillery units that repelled the rebel attack.
In the span of three days, there were a total of 2,601 injured and killed, including several of James’ compatriots in Company M. Most are buried at the New Bern National Cemetery.
My wife and I recently had the opportunity to visit Kinston and New Bern, including the Wyse Fork Battlefield and the New Bern National Cemetery. We were celebrating our 23rd wedding anniversary and continuing our tradition of visiting either a cemetery or a battlefield on our weekend away.
While Company M may have been involved in various skirmishes over the course of the war, the only documented battle is Wyse Fork. It’s always an exciting experience to walk where your ancestor walked but it’s surreal to visit a battlefield where your 16-year-old ancestor fought.
Today (1 October 2014) would be his 166th birthday.
In the New Bern National Cemetery, there are hundreds of Civil War era graves and several monuments, including one to honor the Massachusetts soldiers.
My 3rd great-grandfather James E. Lucey was very proud of his Civil War service. He joined the Grand Army of the Republic in Rochester, NH and participated in parades and other events, such as the one captured in this photo. The only details on the picture are “Rochester Common, G.A.R. 1928, Jim Lucey”
For more information about the Grand Army of the Republic, visit the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War website
A monument stands in the Petersburg National Battlefield near Colquitt’s Salient Trail. Today there are tall pine trees, a paved path and quiet. It’s hard to imagine that this exact spot was once an open field described as “a burning, seething, crashing, hissing hell”.
Lieutenant Horace H. Shaw used those words to describe the events of 18 June 1864, when the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiment, some 900 men, were ordered to charge across 300 yards of open field to attack the Confederate breastworks near the tree line. Of the nine hundred, 632 were killed or wounded in the span of 10 minutes. The largest loss of life in a single action of any regiment in the war. In 1895, Horace Shaw organized funds to purchase the land and commission the monument [details here]. One of the survivors was my 1st cousin 4x removed George A Stanhope, older brother of Gilbert. George was 22 when he enlisted in 1862, his first child Emma had been born just a few months before. In November of 1864 he was promoted to Corporal and returned to Robbinston, Maine when he mustered out in June of 1865. He and his wife Susan (Laskey) had nine more children, I’ve only found seven of the ten so far: Emma, Sophronia, George Jr, John, Mary, Alice and Jessie. Susan died in 1912 and two years later George married Sophia Hatt. He died 24 May 1919 in Calais, Maine.
The more I read about what the men of the 1st Maine went through, the more I respect and appreciate the sacrifice made by the men and women in our military. I will certainly make every effort to observe Memorial Day more formally going forward, they deserve at least that.
If you are planning to visit this National Park, I’d highly recommend a visit to Civil War Hikes.
Original source for much information about the 1st Maine and the first 3 images:
Shaw, Horace H, and Charles J House. The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865: a History of Its Part and Place In the War for the Union, with an Outline of Causes of War and Its Results to Our Country. Portland, Me, 1903. Available online via GoogleBooks ( http://books.google.com/books?id=G50dAQAAMAAJ ) Accessed 20-22 May 2014.
In 1862, Peter (my 3rd great-grand uncle) and Caroline (Davis) Stanhope had 5 sons of age to serve in the military. Curtis registered, but I can find no record of military service. Aaron and Lorenzo served in Infantry regiments (9th and 28th, respectively), George and Gilbert served in Company D of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery.
Fortunately they all survived the war, though not without some physical reminders. In 1890 Gilbert was documented suffering as from rheumatism and deafness, he was 44 years old.
Over a 30 day span, he would have participated in the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, Second Cold Harbor and Petersburg as well as a number of smaller skirmishes. During that short time, over 1100 of his comrades in the 1st Maine were killed or wounded [over 600 in just 10 minutes at Petersburg]. And the war wasn’t over, they fought for almost another year. The accounts [see Ch.9 A Burning, Seething, Crashing, Hissing Hell] of 18 June 1864 at Petersburg alone are horrifying, I can’t imagine how the survivors could ever shake the shadow of war.
Gilbert returned to Washington county after the war and married Charlotte Frost. He worked as a farm laborer and lumberman. They had seven children: Frank, Lillie, Jonas, Betsy Annie, Sadie, Isabel and Gilbert.
In 1885, the survivors of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery gathered in Portland, Maine. I’m not sure if Gilbert was there, I’d love to find a picture of him to compare with this one.
Gilbert died 17 June 1902 at age 56. According to his death record he broke his neck falling out of a wagon while intoxicated. A sad, unfortunate end to be sure.
Source for much information about the 1st Maine and the reunion image:
Shaw, Horace H, and Charles J House. The First Maine Heavy Artillery, 1861-1865: a History of Its Part and Place In the War for the Union, with an Outline of Causes of War and Its Results to Our Country. Portland, Me, 1903. Available online via GoogleBooks ( http://books.google.com/books?id=G50dAQAAMAAJ ) Accessed 12-14 May 2014.
After the The Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery regiment fought along with the rest of the Army of the Potomac in smaller battles at the North Anna river and Totopotomoy Creek. In early June they fought in the battle known as Second Cold Harbor, near Mechanicsville, VA. In Grant’s memoir he wrote “I have always regretted that the last assault at Cold Harbor was ever made… no advantage whatever was gained to compensate for the heavy loss we sustained.”
It was there that my 2nd great-grand uncle Frederick Stanhope received a gunshot wound. I’m not sure if the wound prevented him from fighting in any of the battles over the next year or so, but he did survive the war.
Frederick was about 17 when he enlisted 5 Jan 1864. He was mustered out 11 Sept 1865 and returned home to Robbinston, Washington County, Maine.
A little over a year later, he married Hannah McLaughlin and they had four children: Sarah, Laura, Lucy and Frederick Jr.
Frederick was the eldest son of Rodolphus and Charlotte (Leighton), one of 10 children. I’m related to him through his older sister Sarah (my 3rd great-grandmother) AND his younger brother Sewall (my 2nd great-grandfather).
He died in Dennysville, Maine of tuberculosis on 1 May 1898, at age 52.
You may have heard of the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery Regiment. The unit has the unfortunate distinction of having the most men killed and mortally wounded in battle of any Union regiment during the Civil War. Samuel Collier, the husband of my 2nd great-grand aunt Frances Ellen Bowen, was one of them.
Samuel was born in England around 1830 and married Frances in November of 1861. They lived in Perry, Maine and in August of 1862 when the Army came to enlist men in Washington County, he signed up. His was originally the 18th Maine Infantry unit and the men of Washington County were assigned to Company K.
For the next year and nine months, Company K served in defense of Washington D.C. in Batteries Cameron and Parrott and trained in Infantry and Heavy Artillery tactics. In April 1863, Frances gave birth to their son and named him after his father that he would never meet. Garrison duty in D.C. doesn’t sound like it was very exciting, they did a lot of practicing and drills, but never saw any actual combat. That was about to change.
In early May 1864 Grant’s Overland Campaign began and with it, the order for most of the regiments on guard duty in D.C. to join the battle. The 1st Maine joined Tyler’s Heavy Artillery Division. They met up with the main Army near Spotsylvania on May 18th and the next day had their baptism by fire.
Although the men of the 1st had been in service for some time, they were still “green”. When they were pressed into service near Harris’ farm to defend the right flank from Ewells’ attack, they fought in a more formal, by-the-book style, rather than the get on the ground/behind cover/in a foxhole – just survive – style that the veterans used. The veterans had learned that there is honor in living to fight another day.
So they stood, literally, in the open and fired at the enemy while being fired upon. As you can imagine, the results were devastating: 82 killed (including 6 officers), 394 wounded, 5 missing. Eventually the Union troops forced the retreat of Ewell’s men and ended the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse. This was only the beginning for the 1st Maine, but that’s a story for another time.
For an excellent writeup of this unit, check out Andrew MacIsaac’s thesis “Here the Reaper was the Angel of Death: The First Maine Heavy Artillery During the Overland Campaign” posted here. Also see the National Park Service Regiment Details site.
At the start of the Civil War, William and Mary (Boynton) Bowen lived on their small farm in Perry, Maine with 10 children, including my 2nd great grandfather, Frederic Lowell Bowen (age 4). By the end of 1864, she has lost her husband, 3 sons and a son-in-law to the war effort. Her eldest son William Alonso had also died, but not in the war as far as is known.
In November 1861, William and son George Washington Bowen enlist with the Maine 1st Light Artillery Battery. They are initially stationed at Camp Chase, in Lowell, Massachusetts. In February 1862, George leaves with the unit for New Orleans but William, too sick to travel, remains in Lowell and dies on March 17th.
Lowell Daily Courier – Wed. Mar. 19, 1862
Death of the Last Occupant of Camp Chase.
When the soldiers evacuated Camp Chase, they left behind a man named William Bowen, who was confined to the hospital in consequence of an abscess. He died on Monday last. He was about forty-five years of age; it is understood he enlisted at Eastport, ME., and he leaves a family, and also parents probably in that vicinity. His body was buried by Mr. A.P. Lesure, undertaker, of this city, with whom his friends can communicate, should they wish to take any action in relation to the removal of his remains. Maine papers will confer a favor upon his relatives by publishing a notice of his death.
A cousin, Jeanne O’Shea, and I have tried to find where William was buried in Lowell, but the 1862 book is missing from the cemetery where they likely buried him. He is probably in the unmarked section as it’s doubtful that Mary had the money to bring his body home.
Son George dies in Baton Rouge, LA just 18 months later, on 14 Sep 1863 and is buried in Baton Rouge National Cemetery.
Son Benjamin Franklin Bowen enlists with the District of Columbia Cavalry on 13 Jan 1864 and dies 6 months later, on 27 Jun 1864, killed in a skirmish at Roanoke Station Virginia.
Son John Quincy Adams Bowen enlists with Company D, Maine 2nd Cavalry Regiment on 8 Dec 1863. John dies of tuberculosis 21 Oct 1864 in Barrancas, FL (near Pensacola).
Mary writes this letter to find out the details of John’s death:
Perry November 18th 1864
To the Adgedent generel
Dear Sir I have been informed by Copral James Gallegar of the Second Maine Cavalry Company D John M. Lincoln Captain that my son John Q.A. Bowen, a private in that Company Died on the 19th of October 1864 but of what Decise I have not been informed has his Death been reported to you or the Deceuse he died off please let me know it is the third Son I have lost in the army and I have lost a Husband and Son in law and I have one Son in Company E 17th Maine Reg Fort Preble Portland Maine, if you have the report of his Death please forward a Copy to me and you will oblige me I have never received any of their bountys as yet and my Husband has been Dead three years next March yours with respect
I’m not sure who the other son is that she mentions is in Company E, 17th Maine. She does have 2 other sons that could have been there, but they are not listed in the roster of the 17th. The son-in-law she mentions is Samuel Collier, husband of eldest daughter Frances Ellen. Samuel enlisted with Company K, 18th Maine Infantry on 21 Aug 1862. The 18th is an interesting story, they spent most of the war stationed around Washington DC, guarding the capitol. In January 1863 the regiment designation was changed to the First Maine Heavy Artillery. In the spring of 1864, they were called to the front lines for Grant’s push into Richmond and saw some of the worst casualties of the war over the next year.
Samuel died at Spottsylvania, VA 19 May 1864, the first day that his unit saw fighting. For an excellent writeup of this unit, check out Andrew MacIsaac’s history thesis “Here the Reaper was the Angel of Death: The First Maine Heavy Artillery During the Overland Campaign” posted here.
In 1866, Maine passed the “Pension Act” into law, which would pay the family of a veteran up to $8 per month. Mary immediately applies. “I have lost a husband and three sons in the War of 1861”she wrote. She had still not received the US widows pension she had applied for 22 Jun 1863. Her letter must have had some effect, as of 25 Jul 1866 she was receiving $8 per month plus $2 per month additional for each child listed (Silas M., Mary E., Frederick L., Lucy E., and Linnie W.)
Funeral Services for James Lucey, 87, of Gonic, were held Saturday morning at St. Mary’s church. Rev. John J. McNamara officiated. The services were widely attended by relatives, friends and members of military organizations of which he was a member.
Death put an end to a most interesting career with the passing of Mr. Lucey at the Wentworth hospital in Dover Thursday. Born in Queenstown, Ireland, 87 years ago, James Lucey came to America at the age of twelve, making his new home in South Groveland, Mass. There he learned the trade of carder in one of the textile factories.
With the event of the Civil war Mr. Lucey, although too young for actual duty enlistment, joined Co. M. of the Second Massachusetts Heavy Artillery as a drummer, and soon found himself a regular soldier, engaging in many of the principal battles of the war. He saved his money that he received for fighting and when he returned to his home he once more took up the trade of carder.
In 1879 he moved to Gonic, where he lived until his death. He was employed at the Gonic Manufacturing company mills for 54 years, first as a carder, then as overseer of the card room. Last March he retired to enjoy life at his home on Church Street, where he lived with his daughter.
He is survived by a sister, Mrs. Mary Fielding of South Groveland, Mass.; a son, James Lucey, Jr., of Gonic; and three daughters, Mrs. Anna Stevens and Mrs. Margaret Brown of Dover, and Mrs. Agnes Corson of Gonic.
A past commander of the G.A.R., Mr. Lucey was accorded a military funeral by the A.O.H. and the American Legion. He will be missed by his many friends, to whom he seemed a necessary part of the Memorial and Armistice day celebrations. Hervey Edgerly was in charge of the funeral.
From the Rochester Courier, front page, 21 Dec, 1934 edition. Transcribed by David Lucey.