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Chapter 11: Nantucket County.

This county is an island which lies east from Duke's County, and about thirty miles south of Cape Cod or Barnstable County. It is fifteen miles in length from east to west, and about four miles average breadth: it contains fifty square miles. In 1659 it was bought by Thomas Macy of Thomas Mayhew for thirty pounds, ‘in merchant pay and two beaver hats.’ It was first settled by whites in that year, when it contained about three thousand Indians; it was formerly well-wooded; the soil is light and sandy. The whale fishery commenced here in 1690, and has continued to the present time; it has a good harbor, on the borders of which the town of Nantucket is located. The history of Nantucket is very interesting, and its war record during the Rebellion, which is all we have now to do with, is highly honorable, and in brief is as follows:—


Incorporated as the town of Sherburn, June 27, 1687; name changed to Nantucket, June 8, 1795. Population in 1860, 6,294; in 1865, 4,830. Valuation in 1860, $3,875,598; in 1865, $2,152,568.

The selectmen in 1861 were William Barney, Joseph Mitchell, 2d, William H. Waitt, Alexander Macy, Benjamin Field, Joshua Parker, Elisha Smith; in 1862 and 1863, Charles F. Brown, Charles A. Folger, Zenas L. Adams, Samuel Woodward, Andrew J. Morton, Samuel Swain, Charles G. Coffin; in 1864, Joseph Mitchell, 2d, Joseph C. Chase, Charles G. Jagger, William H. Waitt, Robert McLean, Henry Colesworth, Jr., Reuben P. Folger; in 1865, Joseph Mitchell, 2d, Robert McLean, William H. Waitt, Joseph C. Chase, Charles H. Jagger, Henry Colesworth, Charles A. Leader. [479]

The town-clerk during all the years of the war was William Cobb. The town-treasurer in 1861 was Andrew Whitney; in 1862, 1863, 1864, and 1865, Samuel Swain. 1861. No official action appears to have been taken by the town, in its corporate capacity, in relation to the war during this year. 1862. On the 12th of July a legal town-meeting was held to take action in regard to filling the quota of the town under the late call of the President for volunteers, at which the selectmen were authorized to pay a bounty of one hundred dollars to each volunteer who should enlist in the military service for three years and be credited to the quota of the town. Another meeting was held on the 1st of September, when it was voted to pay a bounty of one hundred and fifty dollars to each volunteer for nine months service when mustered in and credited to the quota of Nantucket.

1863. December—, Voted, ‘to authorize the selectmen to advance money to volunteers enlisting to the credit of Nantucket, not to exceed three hundred dollars to any one person, provided the money so advanced can be deducted from the town bounty which will be due to the soldier when he shall have been properly mustered into the United-States military service and credited as part of the quota of the town.’ They were also directed to expend two thousand dollars ‘to alleviate the suffering of the sick and wounded Nantucket soldiers.’

1864. At the annual election-day in November, the town appropriated sixteen hundred dollars for the payment of State aid to the families of volunteers in the army and navy.

1865. At a special town-meeting held on the 13th of February, six thousand dollars were appropriated for State aid to the families of enlisted men, and three thousand dollars for the payment of bounties to men who ‘shall enlist either in the army or navy and be credited to the quota of the town.’

According to the return made by the selectmen in 1866, Nantucket furnished two hundred and sixty-nine men for the war, which evidently did not include the men in the navy, but those only who were inhabitants of Nantucket, and were in the military service. The town must have furnished at least five [480] hundred and fifty men, as it filled its quota on every call of the President, and at the end of the war had a surplus of fifty-six over and above all demands. Nine were commissioned officers; the most distinguished of whom was George N. Macy, who went out in 1861 as captain in the Twentieth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, and rose to the rank of brevet major-general of volunteers by brave and meritorious services in the field. General Macy was several times wounded, from one of which the amputation of his left hand was necessary. The whole amount of money appropriated and expended by the town on account of the war, exclusive of State aid, was eighteen thousand and thirty-eight dollars and thirty-four cents ($18,038.34).

The whole amount of money raised and expended by Nantucket for State aid to soldiers' families during the years of the war, and which was repaid by the Commonwealth, was as follows: In 1861, $591.58; in 1862, $5,338.45; in 1863, $9,362.17; in 1864, $8,700.00; in 1865, $3,500.00. Total amount, $27,492.20.

The ladies of Nantucket began early in the war to furnish money and articles for the soldiers. In 1861 they held a soldiers' fair, from which they realized two thousand and thirty-eight dollars and twelve cents ($2,038.12); of which one thousand was given to the Sanitary Commission, and the balance among the soldiers and their families. The Ladies' Soldiers-Relief Society raised during the war two thousand five hundred and seventy-nine dollars and forty-six cents ($2,579.-46); all of which was for the soldiers and their families.

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