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[21]

Francis Custis Hopkinson

Private 44th Mass. Vols. (Infantry), September 12, 1862; died at Newbern, N. C., February 13, 1863, of disease contracted in the service.


Francis Custis, the oldest son of Thomas and Corinna (Prentiss) Hopkinson, was born at Keene, New Hampshire, June 11, 1838. His father was Judge of the Massachusetts Court of Common Pleas, and resided in Lowell, Massachusetts, and there Frank passed his childhood. A playmate of his at that time says:—

We used always to look up to Frank as being of a different make from the rest of us. As children, we all freely acknowledged his intellectual superiority. His tastes were more mature than ours, and his habits certainly more scholarly. While we were just beginning to appreciate Sandford and Merton, and Barring Out, he was deep in the Iliad and Odyssey, and used to talk to us of men and women with strange names, to the utter confusion of our minds. He first introduced me to the wonders of the Arabian Nights, and with the roughly illustrated double-columned book he lent me my recollections of that marvellous treasure-house will always be associated.

Yet not only in his reading, but in his play also, he had methods of his own. He was always willing enough to join in our romping games, and would climb trees and run races with the best of us. But the play of which he was most fond was one which he had himself invented, and which for the most part he enjoyed in solitude. The game in question went by the name of “Champions.” It was played with short sticks about as large as clothes-pins, which were named after the heroes of classical antiquity and mediaeval romance. Tournaments and hand-to-hand conflicts used to be conducted at great length. The favorites among the sticks were sometimes clothed in armor and even stained with blood. The method of conducting a fight was to plant two champions in the ground a few inches apart, and then to strike them alternately with a large spike-nail. He who first fell was the conquered one, and usually the blows were graduated in such a way as to secure poetical justice

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