Colonel 13th (afterwards 25th) Missouri Vols. (Infantry), September 1, 1861; killed at Pittsburg Landing, Tenn., April 6, 1862.
the Rev. William B. O. Peabody, D. D., of Springfield, Massachusetts, was the son of Judge Oliver Peabody of Exeter, New Hampshire, and was born July 7, 1799. He married Eliza Amelia White, daughter of Major Moses White, who served in the army through the Revolution. Rev. Dr. Peabody was settled in Springfield, Massachusetts, in October, 1820, and remained with the same parish until his death, which took place in 1847. He was well known as a preacher, essayist, naturalist, and poet, and was universally respected for the pure and elevated character of his daily life. Those who remember the Springfield of forty years ago speak of Mrs. Peabody as lovely in person and manners, full of energy and public spirit, and taking a leading part in all schemes for doing good. Their eldest son, Howard, died in infancy. The rest of the family consisted of one daughter and four sons, of whom Everett was the oldest. He was born in Springfield, June 13, 1830. There is little to be told about his childhood. He was a tall, athletic boy, fond of out-door sports, and excelling in them. He was particularly skilful as a swimmer. Once, while swimming across the Connecticut, at Springfield, he was taken with the cramp when half-way across. One of his schoolmates swam out to him with a plank, by the aid of which Everett reached the shore. It is a curious circumstance that this schoolmate (since dead) was in the Rebel army at Shiloh, and afterwards said that as he was marching into the Federal camp he saw Everett's body on the field, and recognized it at once. Everett was remarkably quick to learn, and was regarded as  the most gifted boy. of the family. He was fond of poetry, and would repeat page after page of Scott's poems, which were great favorites with the household. His father had a strong desire to send him to college, but had not the means to do so. Assistance was at last volunteered in such a manner that he could not refuse; and in 1845 Everett entered as Freshman in Burlington College, Vermont. He remained there but a year, and in 1846 entered Harvard as Sophomore. At first his standing was very high,—so that one of his letters expresses the hope that he shall prove to be among the first eight scholars; and although he afterwards seemed to care less about his rank, he had a part at commencement when he graduated. He was fond of fun and frolic, and was rusticated, in 1847, for helping to make a bonfire on University steps. He was sent home to study with his father, and was at home when his father died,—his mother and only sister having died three years before. He finished the term of his suspension in the family of Rev. Rufus Ellis, then of Northampton. While in college he never was a plodding student, but learned with singular ease and facility. I remember his asking me once to hear him recite a lesson of several pages, which he had been studying for half an hour; and I was surprised to hear him give the substance of page after page, having evidently fixed in his mind every point of importance in the lesson clearly and distinctly, while he troubled himself little about the precise phraseology. He had at this time acquired a good deal of facility in French and German, and had a great deal of miscellaneous information. His wit and love of fun made him a favorite companion at social entertainments; and he enjoyed such things himself, although not to excess. During his last winter vacation, he made a visit to Philadelphia and Washington, and in the latter place gained an acquaintance who seemed to fascinate him a good deal,—Colonel Baker, then in Congress, and subsequently killed at Ball's Bluff. Colonel Baker confided to the young man a project  of taking a party of fifty or a hundred men to California, for two years service in the mines. Everett was delighted with the prospect of adventure involved in such an enterprise, and wrote home to his friends for aid and advice; but the project ultimately failed. He graduated in 1849, and at once found employment at engineering on the Boston Water-Works, under Mr. Chesborough. Soon afterwards, he obtained a leveller's place on the Cleveland, Columbus, and Ashtabula Railroad. He thus describes his first experience of out-door life:—
This was the beginning of a Western residence of more than ten years, with but a few short visits to the home of his youth. He was successively employed on the Pacific Railroad (St. Louis), the Maysville and Lexington, Kentucky, the Maysville and Big Sandy, the Louisville and Frankfort,— always as assistant or resident engineer, but with always increasing salary and responsibilities. At this time he was in splendid physical condition. His frame was large and powerful, his health was always good, and he was almost always very light-hearted and careless  about the future. Except that he had a very strong ambition to rise in his profession, I never saw a man who troubled himself less about what the morrow might bring forth. At this time, the Hon. James Guthrie told the Hon. Edward Everett, if I remember his words correctly, that he thought Everett Peabody was ‘the best field engineer in the West.’ He was soon after appointed Chief Engineer of the Memphis and Ohio Railroad, with a salary of three thousand dollars. At a later period,—for everything connected with Western railroads was then fluctuating and uncertain,—he was employed as engineer of the Nashville and Chattanooga Railroad, and then of the Hannibal and St. Joseph's (Missouri) Railroad. Here he remained for three years. Up to this time his letters to his brothers, which were numerous, showed simply the professional enthusiasm which might have been expected from his energetic and buoyant nature. As he grew older, however, the wearying effects of rough border life began to tell upon him, and the desire for home and for cultivated society became stronger and stronger. One of his brothers was married about this time; and his many letters to his new sister-in-law showed a tenderer side of his nature, and exhibited a plaintive longing that was almost pathetic. For a man of education and cultivated tastes to find himself at twenty-seven the permanent resident of a ‘boarding car’ at the unfinished extremity of a new railway track, in the midst of an unbroken wilderness, in the dead of winter, was rather a dismal experience. The following letters speak for themselves.
Early in 1859 Everett became partner in a firm organized for the purpose of building the Platte County Railroad, in Missouri, and he was appointed Chief Engineer, with complete control of the work and a salary of $3,000 per annum. He expected to make an independent fortune out of the contract, and would undoubtedly have done so, had he lived. His residence now became St. Joseph, Missouri. His employment involved a good deal of travelling, through a beautiful country, and an occasional attendance on the Legislature, as lobby-member, which he found less agreeable than instructive. His worldly prospects were bright. ‘I should not be surprised,’ he wrote, ‘if in two or three years each of us (there are three) should have an annual income of $20,000 or $25,000 from the road.’ His health and strength were in admirable condition; he described himself as ‘strong as an ox, and with vitality enough for a dozen of our young men of Boston.’ When, in the following summer (1860), he made his long-desired two months visit at home, I noticed that, wherever we went, his commanding physique always attracted attention. He was six feet and one inch in height, and weighed two hundred and forty pounds. His motions were slow and steady, and his manners quiet and grave. Such were his conditon and prospects at the outbreak of the Rebellion. The following letter is the first record of his views upon the subject. 
This letter shows that his residence of twelve years in the Border States had exerted the natural effect on his views, and that he looked on national affairs with the eyes of a Missouri Unionist, not of a New England man. The next letter shows him carried already far on by the enthusiasm of the war.
The following letter shows his first summons to military service. The volunteer corps here indicated was subsequently organized, and he was appointed its Major. It became the nucleus of the Thirteenth Missouri, and he was commissioned as its Colonel, to rank as such from September 1, 1861. After the capture of the regiment at Lexington, its number was given to another corps, and it was ultimately reorganized as the Twenty-fifth Missouri.
 Major Champion Vaughan wrote soon after to General J. H. Lane: ‘There is no man in Northern Missouri so well calculated to give you all useful information as Major Everett Peabody, to whom I would urge upon you “an attentive ear” in all matters he has to communicate. In the great crisis now upon Missouri, I believe no man is so likely to take hold of the helm with a manly resolution as Major Peabody, who combines in a happy degree those qualities which the occasion and the times demand.’ Major Peabody's own letters now afford almost a continuous narrative:—
This was the last letter received from him. Shortly after the battle of Pittsburg Landing, he was reported to be severely wounded, and one of his brothers set out to go for him. He heard of Everett's death at Cairo, but went on to the battle-field to make arrangements for bringing the body home. The newspaper narratives of the battle are very contradictory; but after careful study, the facts appear to be as follows. Everett felt that the army was in great danger of a surprise, and sent to General Prentiss on Saturday afternoon for permission to send out a scouting party. Receiving no answer, he sent it out without permission, on Sunday morning, between three and four o'clock. This party met the Rebel column advancing, and fell back skirmishing. Everett had his brigade in line before the attack in force came; this was distinctly stated to his brother by officers of the brigade. The Twenty-fifth Missouri mustered six hundred on the day after the battle, which it certainly could not have done, unless the retreat had been made in good order. While the brigade was forming, General Prentiss rode up to Everett, and reprimanded him as follows: ‘You have brought on an attack for which I am unprepared, and I shall hold you responsible.’ He replied, ‘General, you will soon see that I was not mistaken.’ As a reply to the reprimand, the remark seems not precisely appropriate, and appears rather intended to remind General Prentiss of some previous conversation, in which Everett had in vain endeavored to induce the General to prepare for an attack like this. Viewed in this light, the answer seems decisive, and is another proof that, if he had been in higher command, the attack would have been differently received. The right of the division, under General Prentiss, was captured en masse. Colonel Peabody's brigade received an  attack which it could not support; and when he found it was giving ground, he rode to the front, and exposed himself recklessly, to keep the men from retreating. His Major, an old Texan ranger, did the same, and was also killed, receiving eleven wounds; while Everett received five, namely, in the hand, thigh, neck, body, and head. He was apparently killed about fifteen minutes after the attack struck his line. The Colonel commanding the left regiment of the brigade has since testified that an orderly came from Everett to ask him if he thought he could hold his position. He replied that he thought he could. The orderly returned to his post, but presently came back once more with the statement that Colonel Peabody was killed. He was placed in a position where a chivalrous officer was devoted to almost certain death, and he behaved just as his friends would have predicted in such an emergency. The following letter brought the announcement of his death.
His officers buried him in a gun-box, placing at his head a board with his name, and below it the couplet:—
A braver man ne'er died upon the field;His body was afterwards carried to Boston, where the funeral arrangements were taken in charge by the Governor of Massachusetts, May 16, 1862. It was conveyed thence to Springfield, where, on the following day, in presence of a great concourse of people, it was laid beside the remains of his mother, in the beautiful cemetery which his father had designed and planned. His strong, simple, generous, manly nature reveals itself perfectly in his letters. He died under circumstances where continued life would have been certain to bring further distinction and usefulness; and he singularly fulfilled the prediction contained in a song which he had written, years before, for an anniversary of the Boston Cadets:—
A warmer heart never to death did yield.
And if the army of a foe invade our native land,
Or rank disunion gather up its lawless, faithless band,
Then the arm upon our ancient shield shall wield his blade of might,
And we'll show our worthy brethren that gentlemen can fight.