Greenfield — Military

Extracted from "History of the Connecticut Valley in Massachusetts, Volume II," by Louis H. Everts, 1879.

Greenfield In The War Of The Rebellion.

      Our town shared heartily in the patriotic enthusiasm which marked the uprising of the nation to defend the flag when assailed on the 11th of April, 1861. Peaceful citizens left their usual avocations, and at once assumed the duties and responsibilities of soldiers. The sound of the drum and fife was heard daily in our streets. Armed men paraded every day. All was excitement of hope and fear. The fact of war was brought home to us most distinctly in a bright summer morning in June, 1861. The first company—E, of the 10th Regiment, under command of Capt. Day—started to join the army in the field. The company was paraded in the street, and, in the presence of a crowd of neighbors and friends, the venerable Dr. Chandler commended them in fervent prayer to the care and guidance of the infinite God, and in a feeling address regretted that the infirmities of age would not allow him to go with them, and exhorted them not to be shot in the back. The company then, with measured step, at beat of drum, hastened to the station. It was an occasion to be remembered. It brought the war more directly before us.
      Greenfield sent into the service of the country about 500 men. Of these, something like 100 were not residents of the town, but were secured by recruiting officer wherever they could be found. About 400 were residents here at the time of their enlistment.
      The following is a list, so far as is known, of the 43 Greenfield men who lost their lives in the war:
      Horace M. Allen, Edward Avery, Lieut. William F. Barrett, John A. Bascom, Geo. A. Burnham, Sergt. Fernando B. Bennett, Henry Bowers, Henry J. Bowers, William J. Bowers, Amasa B. Clifford, Capt. Edwin E. Day, Lucius J. Eddy, Henry E. Eddy, Wm. R. Elder, Jacob Eppler, Alphonso K. Graves, Charles Groestick, James M. Hall, Q.M. Clerk, Seth Houghton, Lieut. Silas Hannum, Sergt. Frederic W. Hayden, Augustus M. Howard, Geo. M. Lander, Corp. Christopher Megrath, James Moran, Corp. James D. Murray, Sergt. Geo. Nims, Christopher Newton, Lieut. George G. Nutting, Horace C. Packard, William Partenheimer, Geo. W. Perigo, James G. Potter, Charles W. Potter, Jacob Rice, James E. Robbins, Henry A. Ryther, Wm. E. Ryther, Edward Shehan, Lewis H. Stiles, Maj. William Augustus Walker, Brev. Brig: Gen. Geo. D. Wells, Byram C. Wright.
      All these men deserve a lasting record in the history of the town. But lack of space forbids here mention of any except those who held high positions.
      Capt. Edwin E. Day was born Sept. 3, 1825, in Gill. He married and lived at Factory village, in Greenfield, and was captain of a militia company when the war of the Rebellion began. He was the first man to enlist from this town, and was mustered into service June 21, 1861, as captain of Company G, 10th Regiment. In the campaign on the Peninsula, at the first battle in which the regiment was engaged, on the last day of May, 1862, Capt. Day was killed at the head of his company. He received three bullet wounds. The second was fatal. The third was received after he had been laid upon a stretcher to be taken from the field. In November, 1865, his remains were brought here and buried. He was a wise and faithful officer, and a brave soldier. He died with his armor on, amid the din and roar of battle. The fatal bullet pierced him as he stood facing the foe.
      Maj. William Augustus Walker was born in Portsmouth in 1827. He resided there till he was twenty years of age. After a few years' residence in Boston he came to this town in 1853. He was a young man of cultivated and refined tastes, generous and public-spirited to a fault. He cheerfully responded to the call of his country. He enlisted Oct. 16, 1861, and raised a company for the 27th Regiment, and received a captain's commission. He accompanied Burnside in his expedition to North Carolina, and was appointed provost-marshal at Washington, N. C. In May, 1863, he was promoted to major, and commanded the regiment in a charge on the rebel works at Gaines' Mills, Va., June 3, 1863. He had reached the rifle-pits, when he was pierced through the neck by a rifle-ball, and fell dead. The universal testimony was that he was a faithful and brave officer, securing the respect and confidence of the men under his command.
      With the name of George Duncan Wells is associated a record of a brief but noble life of which our town may well be proud. The son of Judge Daniel Wells,—a name of historic interest among us,—he was born Aug. 21, 1826. He graduated at Williams College, and at the Dane Law School in Harvard University. He studied law with his father, and practiced for a while in this town with his cousin, Daniel Wells Alvord. Removing to Boston, he was appointed judge of the police court.
      When the war broke out Judge Wells was among the very first to offer his services to the government. He was mustered May 22, 1861. I find on the list of Massachusetts Volunteers no name of earlier date than this. He was appointed lieutenant-colonel of the 1st Regiment, which position he filled with great honor and acceptance till July 11, 1862, when he was appointed colonel of the 34th, which office he held till his death, which resulted from wounds received in battle on the 18th of October, 1864, near Sterling Farm, in West Virginia. His remains were brought to Greenfield, and buried among the scenes familiar to his childhood. No man entered the service with nobler sentiments of duty and patriotism, or with a clearer perception of the issue at stake, than Col. Wells.
      Colonel We must continue to call him, though he was breveted brigadier-general on the day of his fatal wound. Few men had more to give their country in this great crisis; no one gave his all more freely, more heartily, than Col. Wells.
      After the war was closed the town voted to erect a monument to the memory of those who lost their lives in the service of the country. Accordingly, a handsome and highly-polished shaft of Scotch granite was erected on the Common, surmounted by a bronze eagle cast in Munich. The pedestal bears this inscription: "Greenfield erects this monument in grateful honor to her patriotic sons who offered their lives in suppressing the great Rebellion, and for the preservation of the National Union, 1861-65."
      A substantial iron fence was put about the Common at the same time. The whole cost was $10,000.

These pages are © Laurel O'Donnell, 2005, all rights reserved
and cannot be reproduced in any format without permission
This page was last updated on
04 Jul 2005