Chapter 1: introductory and explanatory.
Often during the four years of the late civil war we were reminded of the words of Mr. Webster
in a speech made by him in the Massachusetts Convention of 1820 for the amendment of the Constitution
of this Commonwealth.
They are as follows:—
‘I would not be thought to be among those who underrate the value of military service.
My heart beats, I trust, as responsive as any one's to a soldier's claim for honor or renown.
It has ever been my opinion, however, that, while celebrating the military achievements of our countrymen in the Revolutionary contest, we have not always done equal justice to the merits and the sufferings of those who sustained, in their property and in their means of subsistence, the great burden of the war. Any one who has had occasion to be acquainted with the records of the New-England towns knows well how to estimate those merits and those sufferings.
Nobler records of patriotism exist nowhere.
Nowhere can there be found higher proofs of a spirit that was ready to hazard all, to pledge all, to sacrifice all, in the cause of the country.
Instances were not unfrequent in which small freeholders parted with their last hoof, and last measure of corn from their granaries, to supply provisions for the troops, and hire service for the ranks.
The voice of Otis and of Adams, in Faneuil Hall, found its full and true echo in the little councils of the interior towns: and, if within
the Continental Congress patriotism shone more conspicuously, it did not there exist more truly, nor burn more fervently; it did not render the day more anxious, nor the night more sleepless; it sent up no more ardent prayer to God for succor; and it put forth in no greater degree the fulness of its effort, and the energy of its whole soul and spirit, in the common cause,—than it did in the small assemblies of the towns.’
We read these words long years ago; and they had become, as it were, fastened upon our memory before the late civil contest had assumed a warlike front.
We believed that they presented a true state of facts respecting the Revolutionary period, as we know that they possess a marvellous accuracy when applied to ‘the small assemblies of the towns’ of Massachusetts
during the late Rebellion.
In what we shall say on this or any other point, no one, we trust, will understand us as asserting that too much credit has been awarded to the soldiers of the Union
army for the services they have performed, or too much sympathy and honor been given them for the sufferings they have endured, and the sacrifices they have made; for, in our judgment, they have not received their full award of credit, nor their full share of sympathy and honor.
The purpose of this volume is to present a compact and faithful record of what our towns did, during the late war, to aid the cause with which the future name and well-being of this nation were so closely allied; and also to preserve, and rescue from neglect, the names of gentlemen whose official positions imposed upon them many new and untried duties, which they performed with an energy unsurpassed, and a faithfulness which merits the thankful acknowledgment of all good people.
We are not aware that a volume of a character precisely like this has ever before been written.
Although the material for such a work, showing the action of the local town governments during the Revolutionary war, may still exist in the archives of many of our towns, yet we fear that, in the lapse of years which now separate us from that memorable period, many of the records have become mutilated, and in some instances partially or entirely lost.
No systematic attempt, to our knowledge,
was ever made to gather them together, combine them in a volume, and present them in an intelligible and compact form for the information of the general public, or for the more limited purpose of being used by the lover of antiquarian research, or the student of American Revolutionary history.
Had they been, we believe they would in a remarkable degree have sustained the opinion expressed by Mr. Webster
in the extract from the speech which we have quoted at the commencement of this chapter, and to which, in a great part, this volume owes its origin.
But, whatever matters of historical interest the town records of the Revolutionary era may contain, they must be deficient in many important and interesting facts which are intimately connected with those of our own, and which will be found in the pages of this volume, but not in so full and perfect a manner as we could have wished, yet sufficiently full to give the reader an intelligent idea of what was done.
And in this regard we would refer in an especial manner to the services rendered and the work performed by the women of Massachusetts
in behalf of the soldiers.
The women of the Revolution did much, and doubtless had the will to have done more; but they did not possess the means, either pecuniary or practical, which the women of our day possessed.
In their day the railroad and the telegraph were unknown; yet to these agencies we are indebted, not only for the rapid transportation of our soldiers and the early transmission of important information during the late war, but in a primary degree for the Christian
and Sanitary Commissions, and the local auxiliary associations which were organized in almost every city and town in Massachusetts
, and, we may add, by nearly every religious society in the Commonwealth
These auxiliary societies, adopting in most instances the appropriate name of ‘Soldiers' Aid Societies,’ were composed entirely of patriotic and Christian women; and their purpose was to furnish medicines, delicacies, underclothing, books, newspapers, and other useful material for the bodily and spiritual comfort of the sick and wounded in the hospitals, and for the healthy and able-bodied on the battle-field and in the camp.
The value and extent of these contributions can never
properly be estimated in dollars and cents, nor can the good which they were the means of accomplishing ever be accurately known on earth.
These works are as treasures laid up in heaven.
Without the means of transportation afforded by the railroads, and the transmission of important information by the telegraph, these invaluable organisms would probably never have existed.
We are not aware that any of a similar character were formed during the war of the Revolution; and, if any were formed, they would have been almost entirely inoperative, on account of the want of ready transportation, and the impossibility of receiving timely information of the casualties resulting from a great battle.
They were, however, valuable auxiliaries to the good cause all through the late Rebellion.
A battle was no sooner fought than it was known through the land; and as soon as known, and ere the smoke of the conflict had disappeared, and the wounded been taken to the hospitals, materials of every useful description, with volunteer surgeons and nurses, were in rapid transmission to the places where they were most needed.
We have taken much pains, during the last four years, to garner up all the information possible to be obtained respecting these local organizations, scattered throughout our ancient Commonwealth, from Barnstable
; and, although we have been successful to a reasonable extent, we have not accomplished all that we have desired.
We have, however, probably gathered in the bulk of the crop, so widespread and so nourishing; but there is left standing in the field unseen, alone, something for the gleaner yet to do. And we apprehend that, however much may have been gathered, and may hereafter be, much that was done will never be fully known; for in many instances no written records were kept, and in others those that were kept have perished from the earth.
The labor performed was so much one of love and duty, that it is remembered only as a satisfaction by those by whom it was performed; a thing which brought its own reward, in thus having contributed,—however much or however little, yet something,—in these long years of war and suffering, towards rendering the
soldier's sick-bed less hard, and the pains of his wounded limb less poignant.
It is not necessary for us to speak, in this place, more in detail of what was done by the women of Massachusetts
in forwarding contributions to the New-England Sanitary Commission, or to the institution for soldiers' relief which, during the whole of the war, was watched over and superintended by that distinguished and accomplished lady, Mrs. Harrison Gray Otis
, to whom we have the honor to dedicate this book, as we have spoken of them as they deserve in the first volume of this work.
A few facts, however, concerning the Massachusetts Christian Commission would not be out of place, as no especial reference was made to it in our previous publication.
It was through this and the Sanitary Commission that a large part of the contributions made by the women of the Commonwealth
found their way to the army and to the hospitals, and were properly distributed; but the Christian Commission received large benefactions likewise from men, as well as from the women, as the following brief abstract of its doings will abundantly prove.
The work of the Christian Commission in Massachusetts
was under the charge of Charles Demond
, of Boston
He devoted a large portion of his time during the war to this work, in the performance of which he visited many of our towns, addressed assemblages of the people, and organized local societies.
In the Young Men's Christian Association of Boston he found a vigorous and useful ally.
The receiving-ship at the Charlestown Navy Yard
, where upwards of twenty-six thousand enlisted sailors were received during the war, was regularly visited by members of the Association, and articles of comfort and reading matter were distributed.
They also held religious meetings every night on board the ship.
The camps at Readville and at Gallop's Island
were visited for similar purposes.
The amount of money received by the Treasurer
of the Commission at Boston
was $330,197.86; and at Springfield
, $33,553.17. In addition to these amounts, more than $15,000 were sent direct from Massachusetts
to the office of the Commission at Philadelphia
,—thus making the total amount of
money contributed by Massachusetts
to the Commission, during the war, $378,751.03; besides which, the value of sanitary and other stores contributed by the people of the State
to the Commission amounted to $500,240.00,—making a total of eight hundred and seventy-eight thousand nine hundred and ninety-one dollars and three cents ($878,991.03). These large sums were not received from fairs and other similar appliances, but were free — will offerings made by the people of the Commonwealth
in response to appeals through the newspapers and by public addresses from members and friends of the cause.
On three several occasions,—after the battle of Gettysburg
in July, 1863, after the battle of the Wilderness
in May, 1864, and after the fall of Richmond
in April, 1865,—Mr. Demond
, Mr. Edward S. Tobey
, and some other members of the Army Committee of the Christian Commission, sat in the Merchants' Exchange, in Boston
, and received the voluntary offerings of the people.
No one was asked to give; every cent received was a free gift.
And the result was as follows: on the first occasion, thirty-five thousand dollars; on the second, sixty thousand dollars; and on the third, thirty thousand dollars,— making an aggregate of one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. This large amount was made up of comparatively small sums.
Only one was as large as a thousand dollars; the others varied from that down to ten cents.
One day, while receiving contributions, immediately after the battle of Gettysburg
, information was received of the fall of Vicksburg
The despatch containing the information was written on the blackboard, and was in these words:—
Instantly shouts of joy went up from the assembled merchants.
When the immediate excitement had subsided, they joined with uncovered heads in singing,—
‘Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.’
At the conclusion of the hymn, some one remarked, ‘Let us show our gratitude by our gifts.’
The persons present immediately
crowded around the table of the committee; and offers of money were made faster than it could be received.
Remarks like these were frequently made: ‘This is my thank-offering.’ —‘We must take care of the boys who fight for us.’—‘If you want any more, call on me.’
Contributions soon began to come in to the committee by mail from different parts of the Commonwealth
, and continued coming until one hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars were received.
The employes in the Charlestown Navy Yard
sent in a collection amounting to $6,432.26; and it is related that ‘an old lady of eighty years, who lived in Amherst
, and supported herself by sewing, walked four miles to carry to her pastor five cents, that he might send it to aid the suffering soldiers.’
Several instances are mentioned in these pages of aged women who spent the working hours of each day in knitting socks and mittens for the soldiers, and of young girls who gave their leisure time to scraping lint and making bandages for use in the hospitals.
Many of the unfortunate inmates of our lunatic asylums made up underclothing, and otherwise labored in behalf of the Union
soldiers; and several cases are related, in the first volume of this work, of schoolboys who spent their vacations in picking berries in the woods and pastures, which they sold, and forwarded the entire proceeds to the Christian
and Sanitary Commissions.
In view of these and many other facts which are related in these pages, it may well be said that when the rich and the poor, the aged and the middle-aged, the youth and children of both sexes, the sound in mind and those whom God hath suffered to be afflicted, unite as one in the support of a great cause, it cannot be otherwise than just, and cannot fail in the end to be successful.
The chief purpose of this volume, however, is to show what was done by each of the cities and towns in this Commonwealth, in their corporate capacities, to recruit and sustain our armies in the field, and to provide for the comfortable maintenance of the families of the soldiers and sailors when absent, and, when disabled, after their return home.
To do this correctly, and to make each record complete, we believed it proper, as it was most certainly just, that the names of the gentlemen who were Mayors, Aldermen
, Clerks, and Treasurers of our cities, and
of Selectmen, Clerks
, and Treasurers of our towns, during the years of the war, should have due prominence in a work like this; for upon them in a great degree rested the heavy responsibilities under which each municipality was placed during the whole war, in filling its contingents of men, and appropriating money for bounties and other military purposes.
This will make the record of the officers employed in the civil service of the State
correspond in a degree with the rolls of the various regiments and companies, which give the names of the officers and men employed in the military service of the nation, and which are preserved at the State House
and the War Department.
The best and only way by which to show what was done by the cities and towns, and to make manifest the patriotic spirit of the people, was by obtaining a transcript of the votes and resolutions passed by each, which had a bearing upon the Rebellion
and its origin, and the means best calculated to suppress it and preserve the Union
To obtain this information, we have labored long, but nevertheless with complete success; for which our warmest thanks are due to the city and town officers, and to others who have felt an interest in the object we sought to attain.
We have succeeded in obtaining returns, and in nearly every instance very full returns, of the votes and resolutions which were passed in each place; also the names of the city and town officers of each during the period of the war. The labor required to gather in this vast amount of war record; of arranging, with a view to publication, these manuscripts; and of compressing into a limited space an intelligent narrative of what was done by each of the three hundred and forty separate municipalities during the four years of the war,—has been very great, and we hope it has been done with judgment and accuracy.
From the beginning to the end of the work, the great difficulty we had to encounter, and, if possible, to overcome, was, how properly to accomplish the purpose we had in view,—to embody every matter of interest or importance, showing the spirit and purpose of our people, within our limited space.
To do this we were forced of necessity to abstract and condense much which we otherwise would have gladly given in full.
Nevertheless, we believe we have not only preserved the spirit,
but also the substance, of all that was done.
Throughout these entire records, the Union
sentiment of the Commonwealth
is made to appear in its entirety, and with reinvigorating strength.
Nowhere does there seem to have been an opposite spirit or a different sentiment expressed or entertained; not even in the darkest hours, when the Union
cause looked the least hopeful.
We may therefore affirm, with the strictest truth, that if ever there were a people of one mind in a cause, for the support of which they were ready to pledge life, liberty, and property, the people of Massachusetts
were, during the whole of the Rebellion
We have read with care, and for a purpose, every vote and every resolve acted upon or passed at every town meeting held during the war in Massachusetts
; and on no occasion and nowhere does there appear to have been aught but entire unanimity on the part of the people to support with all their power the Government
in its determination to put down the Rebellion
and maintain the Union
This may not be a remarkable, but it is certainly a gratifying, fact.
It is honorable to our people, and adds a new glory to the historic renown of the Commonwealth
The outbreak of war, and the sudden call for troops to defend the national capitol, although not unexpected by Governor Andrew
and his military staff, were nevertheless a very great surprise to the people of the Commonwealth
, especially to those living in districts remote from Boston
For nearly fifty years they had lived in peace, and knew practically nothing of the waste of life and of treasure which a great war entails upon a community engaged in it. In more than nine-tenths of the towns no military organizations had existed for at least thirty years; and, at the time of the first call for troops, the whole available military force of the Commonwealth
was less than six thousand men, and those were chiefly in the large cities and towns on the seaboard counties.
The volunteer, organized militia, in the great central county of Worcester
, and the four western counties of Hampden
, and Berkshire
, did not exceed one thousand men; and in the counties of Barnstable
, and Dukes
, there was not a solitary company or a military organization of any description.
At the commencement of the war, no one, however wise, was
farseeing enough to foretell with any degree of accuracy its probable duration, much less its extent and magnitude.
A general impression prevailed that it would not extend beyond the year in which it commenced.
The utmost limit assigned to it by Secretary Seward
was ninety days; and the Secretary of War
, Mr. Cameron
, was equally at fault in his calculation.
On the 15th of May, only one month from the time the first call was made by the President
for troops, that gentleman positively refused, in a letter addressed to Governor Andrew
, to accept from Massachusetts
more than six regiments of three-years volunteers, although ten were already organized, and anxious for orders to march.
In this remarkable letter, Mr. Cameron
says: ‘It is important to reduce
rather than to enlarge this number (six regiments), and in no event to exceed it
. Let me earnestly recommend to you therefore to call for no more than eight
of which six only are to serve for three years, or during the war, and if more are already called for to reduce the number by discharge
It was not until the 17th of June succeeding, that Governor Andrew
, with all his knowledge and ability, could prevail upon the Secretary
to accept the four additional regiments which had been organized, and were in camp, expecting their services would be accepted.
We mention these facts to show how gentlemen in the highest official positions, and possessing the best means of information upon which to form an accurate judgment, were mistaken in their estimate of the crisis precipitated upon the country in April, 1861, and the duration of its existence.
It was not until after the first battle of Bull Run
in July, that the Washington
authorities began fully to comprehend the real magnitude of affairs, and to adopt measures in correspondence with them.
We believe that these pages will show that in ‘the little councils of the interior towns’ there was a more comprehensive view of the situation entertained and expressed, from the very beginning of hostilities, than in the higher walks of general statesmanship.
Many of the votes passed, and resolutions
adopted by the towns, are indeed quite remarkable in these respects, but not more so than the good sense and ardent patriotism which marked their course in support of the Government
In most of the towns, town-meetings were held as soon as legal notice could be given, to take measures to organize new military companies, and to provide the members with proper uniforms and outfits, and, in the event of their being called into active service, to make suitable provision for the comfortable maintenance of their families.
In many places, votes were passed to pay the men a per diem for every day or half-day spent in drilling, previous to being mustered into active military service, and to make considerable additions to the monthly pay allowed by Government.
For these and similar purposes liberal appropriations were made, and, when necessary, the selectmen or town treasurers were authorized to borrow whatever sums of money there might be required to carry the votes into practical effect.
In some cases, committees were appointed to assist the selectmen in recruiting volunteers and in distributing assistance to the soldiers' families; but in every town the weight of the duties was made to rest on the shoulders of the regular town officers, who, at stated periods, reported their doings to the citizens in ‘town-meeting assembled,’ and were by them approved.
And although these officers received and paid for war purposes and for State aid, during the war, upwards of twenty-two millions of dollars, we do not find, in an examination of the records of every town, that in a single instance was there a dollar misapplied, or a suspicion ever entertained that any portion of the vast sums appropriated had been withheld or expended in a corrupt or improper manner by any of the town or city officers.
The reader will be impressed, in looking over the proceedings of these town-meetings, with the good sense and decorum which everywhere appears in them; of the care taken to do nothing that was not legal, nothing that the town had not a lawful right to do; and in several instances, where doubts were entertained or expressed concerning some particular vote or appropriation, the selectmen, before proceeding to execute it, were directed to consult counsel, whether the vote was legal and
constitutional; at other times, when a matter was desirable, but of questionable legality, the selectmen were directed ‘to petition the General Court for the passage of an act which would meet the case.’
Indeed, the greater part of the acts passed by the Legislature in relation to the war, such as those for the payment of bounties, and of State aid, were but the embodiment in a legal form of ideas and suggestions expressed at these primary meetings; and this leads us to make a statement of the provisions of a few of those acts which were passed, having relation to the cities and towns, with a view to regulate and make equal the payment of aid to soldiers' families, and as far as possible the payment of bounties to volunteers.
The extra session of the Legislature, which met on the 14th of May, 1861, passed ‘an act in aid of the families of volunteers and for other purposes,’ which provided that towns and cities might raise money by taxation, to provide assistance for the families of volunteers and those dependent upon them for support, but restricted the amount to twelve dollars a month to any one family;2
and the money so applied was to be reimbursed annually to each city and town from the treasury of the Commonwealth
, from which fact it was called ‘State Aid.’
One purpose of this act was to prevent towns from too much extravagance in providing for the dependants of the soldiers, which some of them at the commencement of the war were inclined to do. Another purpose was to incite to action towns which might not, otherwise, make suitable provision for these dependants, knowing that, if they did, the money expended would be reimbursed to them by the Commonwealth
This act, without material change, continued in force all through the Rebellion
, and in a modified form it still remains upon our statute-book.
It was one of the wisest State measures of the war. The amount of money paid by each city and town for State aid during each of the four years of the war, and afterwards refunded by the Commonwealth
, will be found in these pages as part of the record of each city and town, the aggregate amount of which during the four years was $8,348,880.63.
Many of the towns, however, did not pay strict regard to the law, but expended in many cases a much larger amount than the State
Vast sums were also contributed by private benevolence for the comfortable support of the wives and children of the absent volunteers, and to the widows and the fatherless of those who fell in battle, or died of disease, of which no account can be given, as in a majority of cases no record was ever kept of it. By the same act, any city or town was authorized to raise money by taxation to defray any expense already incurred, or to carry out any contract heretofore made with any of its inhabitants who might have enlisted in the volunteer service, but all other contracts of a like nature were to terminate in ninety days. The purpose of this provision was to restrain towns, when under momentary excitement, from making rash and costly promises of monthly pay to volunteers, which, if continued, and the war was prolonged, were likely to impoverish the town to a degree bordering upon bankruptcy.
Another object which it sought to prevent was a rivalry or competition between towns in obtaining volunteers by extravagant outlays of money, giving to a wealthy town an undue advantage over one comparatively poor.
This evil was further remedied by the act. passed at the extra session of the Legislature, entitled an act ‘for the payment of bounties to volunteers and for other purposes,’ which was approved by the Governor
November 18th, 1863.
This act provided that bounties to volunteers should be paid directly by the Commonwealth
and fixed the amount at three hundred and twenty-five dollars to each volunteer, who should enlist for a term of three years, and be credited to the quota of any town or city in the Commonwealth
It also allowed volunteers the option of taking, in lieu of this aggregate amount, a bounty of fifty dollars when mustered into the military service, and twenty dollars a month until discharged, and in the event of his death while in the service one hundred and twenty dollars to his widow or legal heirs.
It was believed that the liberal amount of bounty provided in this act would, by making it uniform throughout the Commonwealth
, secure all the men
that might be required by the Government
, and prevent the evils of competition between towns in filling their quotas, the practical effect of which was to swell to an unnecessary degree the amount of the local bounties.
It failed, however, to accomplish this desirable purpose; for towns, in their anxiety to furnish the number of men required of them, continued to pay bounties of their own, notwithstanding the large bounty offered by the State
This practice led to the passage of another act, by which cities and towns were prohibited from paying a larger bounty than one hundred and twenty-five dollars to a volunteer for three years service, which will explain to the reader the similarity of the votes passed by the towns in 1864, restricting the payment of bounty beyond that sum; it will also explain why some of them voted that the bounty thus provided should be paid in gold
, which, though not a violation of the letter of the statute, certainly did not accord with its spirit and intention.
Nor was this all. The towns, though restricted from paying a larger bounty than one hundred and twenty-five dollars, did not prevent citizens in their personal and private capacity from contributing of their own means to raise large sums for the encouragement of recruiting, by adding to the amount allowed by law to be raised by taxation, and paid by the towns.
The only objection to this practice was, that it gave undue advantage to the wealthy towns over their less fortunate neighbors; which we presume will be regarded as a legitimate advantage, and one which wealth always has over poverty.
A word of explanation is proper here to account for the apparent discrepancy, which appears in the votes passed by many of the towns in the year 1862, in the amount of bounties paid to volunteers for three years service, and those for nine months service.
In most of the towns the amounts were the same for both; in several of them a larger bounty was paid to the nine-months men than was paid to those for three years. The reason was this: On the 4th of July, 1862, the President
issued a call for three hundred thousand volunteers for three years service, of which number Massachusetts
was to furnish fifteen thousand.
The towns immediately held meetings, appropriated money, and fixed the amount of the bounty which they authorized to be
The amounts offered by each did not materially vary, although each fixed its own without consulting the others, and without their knowledge.
The votes only show how nearly of one mind the towns were.
Recruiting began with much earnestness, and in less than sixty days the whole number was obtained.
While in the midst of recruiting the fifteen thousand three-years men, another order was issued by the President
on the 4th of August, calling for three hundred thousand men for nine months service, supplemented with the information that, if not furnished within a comparatively short time, a draft would be resorted to. Of these men Massachusetts
was to furnish nineteen thousand and eighty.
Thus on two separate calls, issued within four weeks of each other, Massachusetts
was asked to furnish without delay thirty-four thousand and eighty men
. Before either of these calls was made, Massachusetts
had furnished thirty-five thousand men for the military service, and twelve thousand for the navy, making an aggregate of forty-seven thousand men already in the service; and what bore with peculiar hardship upon Massachusetts
and other maritime States was, that no account was taken of and no credit given for the men in the navy.
So that we had to furnish our full proportion of men for the military service, and at the same time man the navy with seamen, for whom we obtained no credit or allowance whatever; and this injustice continued until July 4th, 1864, when an act passed Congress allowing the men in the navy, who had enlisted since April, 1861, to be counted into the contingent of a State to which they belonged, and in which they had enlisted.
By this act of tardy justice Massachusetts
was credited with twenty-two thousand three hundred and sixty men (22,360).4
It is not surprising therefore that, in order to enlist our proportion of nine-months men in August, 1862, the bounties could not be diminished in proportion to the shortness of the term of service required.
About one in fifteen of the entire population of the Commonwealth
were already in either the military or naval service of the country, and now we were to add upwards of nineteen thousand to the number.
To this additional demand
there was no opposition, except among a portion of the rabble in some of our large cities, who made the possibility of a draft the pretext for riotous demonstrations, which for a few hours only in the city of Boston
assumed a serious aspect, when it was crushed and scattered by the firmness of Governor Andrew
and the military and civil authorities of the cities and State.
The only effect of these disturbing and disloyal elements, which were confined to the most brutal, ignorant, and dangerous classes, always to be found in large places, was to encourage enlistments, and add strength to the Union
Before the close of the year the number of men asked for by the President
on each call had been enlisted, enrolled, assigned, and sent forward to the front.
Previous to the President
's calls of July and August, 1862, no fixed district or town system for recruiting men for the military service had been formed by either the Commonwealth
or by the General Government
, and no system of local credits had been arranged, by which we could tell how many men had entered the service from any particular city or town.
True, the names of the men in the service were upon the muster-rolls of each company and regiment, and copies of them were in the offices of the Adjutant-General
of the State
, and the Adjutant-General
of the Army at Washington
; but these rolls did not clearly indicate to which town, city, or precinct a soldier belonged.
As the war progressed and increased in magnitude, it became important, especially when a daft was impending, to ascertain accurately the number, and if possible the names, of the volunteers which each place had furnished; as it was understood that if a draft should take place the men already furnished were to be taken into consideration, and allowances made.
Accordingly, soon after the receipt of the President
's calls of July and August, a general order
was issued by the AdjutantGen-eral of the Commonwealth
, with the approval of Governor Andrew
, requesting the Mayor
of each city, and the Selectmen
of each town, to make a sworn return within a specified time of the men belonging to the place who had entered the military service, giving, as far as in their power, the name of the person, and the company and regiment to which he belonged.
time these returns were received, properly made out, signed, and sworn to, and they were of incalculable value in forming the basis upon which all subsequent credits were given and all subsequent demands were made.
These returns were accepted as correct by the United-States military authorities at Washington
, and here; and they were correct as returns could be. The system pursued henceforth, both by the State
and United States
, until the end of the war, was in substance as follows: Take, for an instance, the call made by the President
on July 4, 1862, for three hundred thousand men. The proportion which Massachusetts
was required to furnish was fifteen thousand.
This proportion was based upon the enrolment by the State
of all able-bodied male citizens between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years. The gross number only which each State was to furnish was given by the United-States authorities.
To the State
, and to the United-States Assistant Provost-Marshal
stationed in Boston
, was assigned the duty of deciding upon the number of men which each city or town should furnish to complete the total of fifteen thousand men, which was ascertained by the number of enrolled men in each.
The number of men already furnished was duly credited and deducted.
Some of the towns were not bound to furnish any men under that call, as they had already furnished their full proportion.
Some even claimed to have furnished more than their share, and asked to be allowed credits for surpluses, on the call for nine-months volunteers.
The surpluses, however, were not allowed to count on that call; but they were considered and allowed on subsequent calls.
So that, from this time until the end of the war, a system of debit and credit was kept up between the Government
, the State
, the towns, cities, and districts; at the end a balance was struck, and it appeared, by the rolls in the Adjutant-General
's office, and by the books of the United-States Assistant Provost-Marshal-General
, U. S. A.), that every city and town in the Commonwealth
had filled its quota upon every call made by the President
for troops; and, with the exception of twelve small towns, each had furnished a surplus over and above all demands, the aggregate of which was fifteen thousand one hundred and
seventy-eight men (15,178). The whole number of men which Massachusetts
furnished for the army and navy, and for which she was credited, was one hundred and fifty-nine thousand one hundred and sixty-five (159,165).
We have not been able to obtain from the War Department, for use in the compilation of this volume, a copy of the returns made by Major Clark
, U. S. A., of the number of men by cities and towns furnished by Massachusetts
for the war, as it is contrary to the rules of the Department to furnish copies of such papers.
We have therefore been compelled to be content with the returns made by the city and town officers, in 1866, to a committee of the Massachusetts Legislature, of which the Hon. Tappan Wentworth
, of Lowell
, was chairman.
Those returns are neither complete nor entirely accurate, although they approximate to both: one thing is greatly in their favor, they do not exaggerate, nor claim more than they are entitled to; on the contrary, they fall short of what is justly their due, a discrepancy which can easily be accounted for by the probable fact that they make no claim for men which were credited to the State
at large, and a majority of the towns have not taken into account the surplus of men who served in the navy, and which were credited pro rata
to them by the State
The probability is that the returns referred to only included the men who were bona fide
inhabitants of the towns to which they were credited.
These facts fully explain the discrepancy of about ten thousand men between the number claimed by the towns and the number actually furnished by the State
, and credited by the War Department.
But be this as it may, the number of surplus
men which each city and town furnished in excess of all demands is correctly given, in its proper place in the record of each city and town, in these pages.
These were copied from the records of Major Clark
, U. S. A., Assistant Provost-Marshal-General
, at the end of the war, before they were forwarded by him to the War Department at Washington
, and were published in the Annual Report
of the Adjutant-General
for the year 1865.5
|By the very able report (House Doc. No. 7), made by Mr. Wentworth to the Legislature in 1867, and to which we have already referred, it is made to appear that the expenses incurred by the several cities and towns for bounties, recruiting, and other expenses growing out of the war, but not including the payment of State aid to the families of volunteers, was||$13,010,867.52|
|Being $10.74 for each inhabitant of the State, according to the census of 1865. |
|The expense incurred by the Commonwealth for the same||29,594,650.40|
|Which added to the sum expended by the cities and towns, makes a total of||$42,605,517.92|
|Being $33.62 for each inhabitant.
Eighty-two cities and towns, containing a population of 184,336, have returned private contributions to bounty and recruiting expenses amounting to||806,948.80|
|Assuming that the cities and towns from which no such returns have been received have contributed in the same proportion to the same object, the total private contributions amount to||5,550,293.82|
|The contributions from fairs and all private sources, for all purposes connected with the war, may be safely estimated at||2,500,000.00|
|The last three sums added to the amount paid by the State and towns will make a total of||$51,462,760.54|
|Of the war expenses incurred by the towns, there has been paid (Jan. 1, 1866), by taxation||4,457,754.57|
|Of the same expended by the State there has been paid||8,997,345.32|
|Add private contributions to the recruiting expenses, &c., partly estimated||5,550,293.82|
|Add contributions from fairs and all private sources, for all purposes connected with the war, as estimated||2,500,000.00|
|Making a total of||$21,407,393.71|
|Of the war expenses the towns now owe (Jan. 1, 1866) ||$8,554,112.95|
|Of the war expenses the State now (Jan. 1, 1866) owes||16,379,484.32|
‘The amount exhibited,’ says the Report,
undoubtedly falls below the actual expenditure.
The Legislature of 1863, chapter 218, imposed a tax upon the several cities and towns, with a view of partially equalizing the expenses of the bounties previously paid by them.
By this act, many of the towns were made debtors to the larger number; and they paid into the State treasury large sums to liquidate the debt thus created by statute.
This transaction has, in many of the debtor towns, been disregarded in making their returns.
Considerable sums have also been paid for interest, and additional expenses have been incurred by the increase of duty imposed upon town officers.
The expenses of the State on account of the war, occasioned by an increase in the number of departments, and an augmentation of clerical force in the regular departments, together with the cost of extra legislation, would, if reckoned, add largely to the general amount above stated.
Extra charges to the Adjutant-General's office and to the Paymaster's office, only, are included in the above statement.
There will be large additions to the State expenses, on account of the aid granted by the State, under standing laws passed since the commencement of the war, to soldiers' families, the accounts of which (May 14, 1866) are still open; and also on account of aid to disabled officers and soldiers, granted by a law passed at the present session.6
The amount of expenditure already made and voted may be regarded as evidence of the interest felt by the citizens of the Commonwealth in the contest through which we have successfully passed, and as a pledge of their devotion to civil liberty, and of their determination to maintain the Union of the States.
No better evidence of the determination of the people of the Commonwealth to support the General Government, in the war, can perhaps be found than the individual contributions given in aid of its prosecution, which, in many of the towns, were astonishingly large.
In Bradford, Watertown, Gardner, Mendon, and Templeton, they
exceeded five dollars to each inhabitant; in Washington, six; in Somerville, seven; in West Cambridge (Arlington), eight; in Leyden, nine; in Longmeadow, ten; and in Belmont, ten.7
The Legislative Report, from which the above extracts are taken, gives the war expenses incurred by the Commonwealth
up to January, 1866.
Since then they have been increased nearly two millions and a half of dollars, chiefly by the continuance of the payment of State aid to soldiers and their families, and the payment of outstanding bounties; so that the total amount of expenditure by the Commonwealth
on account of the war to the 1st of January, 1871, was upwards of thirty-two millions of dollars, or, in exact figures, $32,039,545.20. In the mean time it has been decreased to $16,573,244.00, for the redemption and payment of which the following sinking funds are pledged:—
|Union Loan Sinking Fund||3,600,000.00|
|Bounty Loan Sinking Fund||2,399,980.35|
|War Loan Sinking Fund||1,835,803.66|
|Coast Defence Loan Sinking Fund||425,690.79|
The extinguishment of the war debt of Massachusetts
is therefore in a fair way of being accomplished in a very few years; and judging from the rapid decrease of the war debt of the cities and towns by taxation during the two years immediately succeeding the war, and the establishment by the largest places of sinking funds, very many of them have already (June, 1871) paid off all the indebtedness which they incurred on account of the war.
We are not aware that the amount paid for bounties in Massachusetts
is larger, or even so large, as was paid in the other New-England
States, or in the Middle
and Western States; but this we know, that, while the volunteer system was the rule
of the Government
, bounties were not only a necessity, but it was just that they should be paid.
and the other New-England
States did not have so large a proportion of young men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five years, compared with the whole population, as the Middle
and particularly the Western States
for the last twenty years has been a State to emigrate from, and not to emigrate to. The Western States have received a generous proportion, every year, of our active, ambitious, and enterprising young men, and will continue to receive for generations to come.
While the regiments and batteries which went to the war had a fair percentage of men of foreign birth in their ranks and among their officers, they had no representation whatever from the Middle
or Western States; but those States were well represented in every regiment and upon every battle-field by men of Massachusetts
birth or origin, and were also represented in a greater degree by men of foreign birth than were Massachusetts
and the other New-England
This was all fair enough and proper enough, and could not have been otherwise.
had, in proportion to its population, a larger percentage of women and other non-combatants than any other State in the Union
By the census of 1865 the females exceed in numbers the male population nearly fifty thousand, while in the Western States
the male population exceeds that of the female.
We had also a much larger proportion of old people than the newer States outside of New England
. New England
, and especially Massachusetts
, had, moreover, a large number of her young and active men at sea, and engaged in the fisheries, who were exempt from military service and from draft; yet they were all counted in the population, and made to swell the basis upon which the contingents of States were made.
Over twenty-six thousand of this class during the war were in the United-States Navy, for which the Commonwealth
until near the close of the war (July 4, 1864) derived no advantage whatever.
In the calls made by the President
these men were not taken into account.
We had to furnish our military contingent as though a navy did not exist.
The Western and interior States furnished few or no men for the navy.
Their young men went naturally into the military service, and every one counted to their military quotas.
Not so in Massachusetts
and other New-England
States, where a large number entered the navy.
The course pursued by the Government
in refusing to allow credits for men in the navy bore with great hardship upon this Commonwealth, and especially upon the counties and towns bordering upon the sea, the leading interests of which were maritime.
A large proportion of their young men were already actively in the service of the United States
, on board war vessels guarding the Southern
coasts from blockade runners, or on far-off seas in search of piratical ‘Alabamas;’ and yet they were made to furnish their full share of men for the military service, and this they did under every call of the President
without complaint or murmur.
In this connection we would call especial attention to the proceedings of the town-meetings held in Barnstable County
and in other places whose interests were almost wholly maritime.
In no portion of the Commonwealth
or of the loyal States was there less fault-finding, or a more ready and determined purpose evinced to sustain the Government
and the Union
to the last hazard.
Knowing, as we do, intimately and thoroughly the difficulties under which these towns labored to fulfil the requirements of the Government
, and the generosity and will with which they did it, we cannot refrain from expressing in an especial degree our acknowledgments of the great service they did the cause, and the lasting and especial honor which their patriotism under the most trying circumstances cast upon the Commonwealth
In considering the matter of bounties, we should also take into account the fact that a very large portion of the men of Massachusetts
, between ‘the war ages,’ were mechanics at work in our various manufactories, which are scattered all over the Commonwealth
At the commencement of the Rebellion
, mechanical and all other branches of labor were stagnant, and few were remunerative.
As the war progressed, they became busy and profitable.
Labor was in great demand; and wages rose to an unprecedented height, owing to the demand occasioned by the war, and the inflation of the currency.
But, with these,
articles of daily family use also increased in price in nearly a corresponding degree; and between the demand for labor and the demand for volunteers there was a direct and active competition.
Skilled workmen, by remaining at home, could earn, on an average, from four to five dollars a day. Unskilled labor also received large wages.
The pay of an enlisted man in the army was at the most sixteen dollars a month, exclusive of clothing money and rations.
The demands of patriotism were urgent; so were the demands of their families for support.
As a means of equalizing these demands, bounties were paid to the volunteers, and State aid to their families.
Both were just; and they procured the men required, without resorting, except with a very few and unimportant exceptions, to a draft.
Of the 159,165 men which Massachusetts
furnished for the war, less than twelve hundred were drafted men.
The duties which the war imposed upon the city and town officers were incessant and arduous.
To them, in a primary degree, belongs the honor of having recruited the different contingents of men called for by the President
; and, in thus discharging their obligations, they did incalculable service to the Commonwealth
and to the cause.
It is proper, therefore, that their names should appear, with well-considered prominence, in a history of Massachusetts
in the civil war, that they may go down to posterity as gentlemen who acted a difficult and honorable part in preserving the life of the nation when assailed by bitter and defiant enemies.
In all they did, they acted in harmony with Governor Andrew
and the State
authorities, and were nobly sustained by their several constituencies in the liberal supply of means by which to accomplish their patriotic purposes.
Whatever of money or material aid they required was freely given.
Money was voted almost without limit, both for the payment of bounties, and the comfortable support of the families of enlisted men, which were well cared for during the whole war, not only by the towns in their corporate capacities, but by voluntary contributions liberally made by the citizens.
There may have been, and doubtless were, many cases of suffering and hardship among the soldiers' families: when was it otherwise in a State engaged in a great war?
All we mean to
claim is, that much was done to alleviate and ward off suffering, and to smooth down the rough and jagged road along which, for four long years, our people struggled, bearing many and grievous burdens.
Of course we are aware that in the households over which the Angel of Death cast its dark shadow, there were griefs which no kind hand or sympathetic word could wholly assuage, or console; but what could be done to lighten the weight of sorrow by which so many hearts were bowed down, and so many firesides left desolate, by the exercise of friendly aid and kind, sympathetic words, was done.
But there are sorrows known to every heart which only He who made it can fully relieve.
With these preliminary words, we present to the reader the doings of the ‘small assemblies of the towns,’ as they appear from an examination of their records.