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 First Lieutenant 24th Mass. Vols. (Infantry), September 2, 1861; killed at Drury's Bluff, Va., May 16, 1864.
Mason Archelaus Rea was the eldest son of William Archelaus Rea,—a merchant of Boston,— and Mary Frances, daughter of Moses Wheeler of Boston. He was born in Boston, October 23, 1837, and was prepared for Harvard by Mr. Tower, Principal of the Park School. He entered college with the Class of 1859, and soon gained the good — will of those with whom he was brought in contact, by his open and ingenuous character. His fondness for desultory reading interfered much with a close attention to the prescribed studies of his college course, although he learned from books much which was not to be had in the recitation room. Student life was not congenial to Mason Rea. Had he continued it, his life could only have resulted in mediocrity, because he was not suited for it by nature. To struggle against odds, to fight the elements, was his delight. ‘I have known him,’ says his college chum, ‘to choose a most cold and stormy day to walk to Boston and back—snow almost waistdeep—for the mere pleasure of a contest with nature in its most tempestuous form.’ Out-of-door life was his natural element: his study was his scene of drudgery. But when riding, walking, or boating, he was a different being, he was a man; his ideas flowed steadily and consistently; his life had a point to it; his thoughts were highly practical; his judgment was sound. In the second term of his Sophomore year, his eyes—always weak—completely failed him; and by the advice of his physician, he gave up college life and went to Europe. After an extensive tour in England, and the west and north of Europe, he returned home and decided to go into business with his father. To gain a thorough knowledge of his future
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