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Supplementary biographies. 1844.

Ebenezer Pierce Hinds.

Private 7th Maine Vols. (Infantry), August 21, 1861. died August 17, 1862, on board steamer ‘State of Maine,’ of disease contracted in the service.

Ebenezer Pierce Hinds was born, according to the entry made by himself in the Class-Book, at Livermore, Maine, June 30, 1821. He was the son of Ebenezer and Louisa (Pierce) Hinds, and the fifth in descent from Ebenezer Hinds, who was, in 1776, a Presbyterian preacher in Middleboroa, Mass. He was also the fifth of the family who, from father to son, bore the same baptismal name. Middleboroa continued to be the residence of the family till 1801, when the grandfather and father of the subject of this memoir emigrated to Maine. His father was, for many years, a master ship-builder at Pittston, in that State, where he is still living.

On entering college he first joined the class which graduated in 1843, but remained only during the Freshman year, when he left Cambridge and resumed school-teaching in order to provide the means of completing his college course; for he had already, before going to college, ‘taught a great many common schools.’ On returning he joined the Class of 1844, in the second term of their Junior year, and remained with them till they graduated. His rank in the class was more than respectable. According to the printed order of Exercises for Commencement, it was ‘above the average in Greek,’ while in Mathematics he had attained ‘high distinction.’

It has not been easy to trace his career after graduation. He was always eccentric and reticent to excess, and his own [486] family were often ignorant of where he was and what he was doing. He seems, however, to have resumed almost immediately his old business of teaching. In 1845-46 he taught in an academy then recently established at Westbrook, Maine; in 1847 a school was opened by him at Norway, in the same State, under the title of the Norway Liberal Institute; and in 1848 he became principal of the Oxford Normal Institute at South Paris, Oxford County, Maine, where his success as a teacher was very great, and drew to the new institution at one time as many as two hundred students. Here he taught all the higher branches to pupils of both sexes, and fitted a great number of young men for Bowdoin College, where it was said that no candidates for admission came so well prepared as Mr. Hinds's scholars. He was an enthusiastic teacher, sparing no pains or expense to perfect his methods of instruction,—hiring assistants and purchasing, apparatus with reckless prodigality, while, at the same time, he was careless of his personal comforts, and negligent in the matter of dress.

The results were not remunerative; and at the end of two years, disheartened by the pecuniary embarrassments into which he had fallen, he suddenly disappeared, and, with only five dollars in his pocket, made his way to the West, where, for a time, he found employment as surveyor and civil engineer, and was on the point of setting out across the plains for California, when he was taken ill, and returned to Massachusetts, where he taught school for a while at Barnstable. It was about this time also, it is supposed, that he went on a fishing-voyage to the Banks of Newfoundland. After he had been absent more than a year from South Paris, his friends there having removed the causes which had led to his abrupt departure, gladly welcomed him back; and he resumed his position at the head of the Oxford Normal Institute, which he continued to hold for nearly five years longer, but, failing still to make it profitable, finally abandoned it in 1856.

During the next three years he taught a school at Livermore Falls, and afterward went to Aroostook County, Maine, where, in local phraseology, he ‘took up wild land and made himself a farm,’—still teaching at intervals. [487]

His letters from this farm show that the same energy and enthusiasm he had displayed in teaching he here directed to the ‘chopping of big trees,’ of which he had already felled about nine acres (out of a hundred), and he was full of projects for building a house and opening a road. This was in August, 1859. In November of the same year he had been driven out of the woods by the cold and wet, so he had fallen back upon school-teaching again. His ‘spirits’ were ‘as lively as ever.’ In June, 1860, he was back at his farm, but, from want of help, had only been able to plant, with wheat, about two acres. He was again at work chopping trees. His house was not yet finished, and he was still living — in camp.

A passage in an address delivered by him before the North Aroostook Agricultural Society, in October, 1860, paints what seems to have been a chief attraction in the life he was now leading:—

If chopping trees be hard work, there is some poetry as well as plain prose in it. There is much poetry in the life of a pioneer, while camping out in the woods with nothing to disturb the quiet but the hooting of owls, the chattering of squirrels, and the singing of birds. Poetry there is in two volumes: first, that he is doing a good and pious work; second, that there is a good time coming when himself and family are to enjoy the fruits of his labor. What poetry, when a mammoth tree goes crashing down, to look up and get a larger view of clear blue sky, and, once in a while, to look out upon the increasing prospect of distant hill and intervening ridges!

His life in the woods proved not a bad training for the new career upon which he was about to enter, and, in the ‘long probation of mud and discipline’ passed in Virginia in the winter of 1861-62, he had occasion to congratulate himself on having learned to make a ‘sleeping berth, Aroostook fashion, of boughs well laid down.’

It was from Maysville, where his farm was situated, that he enlisted in the Seventh Regiment Maine Volunteers, Company I, composed chiefly of men from that and the adjoining townships. Declining, with characteristic modesty, a lieutenant's commission, he entered the service as a private, saying that [488] ‘he thought he could serve his country better in that capacity than in any other.’ He was mustered in on the 21St of August, 1861, and left Augusta with the regiment for Baltimore, August 23.

The following extract from a letter written in Virginia, November 9, 1861, illustrates the spirit in which he devoted himself to the service of his country, and at the same time shows the strength of his attachment to his family.

In a few days we expect to be marched out to battle. . . . . I can hardly tell whether I feel much anxiety about myself, but I do think much, very much, of the friends behind me. One thing is certain, sister, there is a God here as at home, and he will not fail to take care of any one who does his duty. Mine is to be here. God help me to do my duty like a man.

At Baltimore, where the regiment remained about a month, he ‘worked with the engineers’ in building a fort on Murray Hill; and this seems to have suggested an application which he made unsuccessfully for a discharge from his regiment in order to enter the engineer service. He had, perhaps, already discovered that it was not as a private soldier that he could best serve his country. The regiment was soon after brigaded, and Mr. Hinds was provided with employment better suited to his capacity,—being detailed as clerk to the brigade commissary. His duties in this position, which included the charge of the brigade hospitals, exempted him from much of the hardship and peril of a soldier's life, while at the same time they debarred him from active participation in the brave deeds for which the Seventh Maine soon became honorably known. His services were none the less important, and he brought to their performance the same conscientious fidelity which distinguished all that he did.

After spending the winter of 1861-62 in camp, near Lewinsville, Virginia, the regiment went through the Peninsular Campaign and took part in most of its battles, greatly distinguishing itself on several occasions. Mr. Hinds was the occasional chronicler of its fame in the columns of the Aroostook Pioneer, whose editor was his neighbor and friend at home, [489] but whether writing to this journal or to his own family, he usually says little about himself beyond the mention of his health, which seems to have remained good almost to the last.

On the 20th of July, a fortnight after the arrival of the army at Harrison's Landing, he writes from that place:—

Dear Sister Louisa, and good friends at home. . . . . My health is good as usual, though I should be stronger were I in Maine. You ask if I was in any of the battles. Not exactly, but nearly in two or three, but fortunately did not get hurt . . . . As I have told you before, have no fears for me. I shall return to Maine. May not this year . . . . We shall have peace some time. Our country can have but one government, but whether that will be a Republic or a Monarchy is more than I can determine. Good by, and God bless you all.

This was the last letter received from him.

Of the short remainder of his life but little has been learned. Not long after the date of his last letter he appears to have been attacked by diarrhea, and, after remaining a few days in the Rest Hospital, he was, with others of the sick, sent North while the army was preparing to evacuate the Peninsula. The steamer in which he was embarked bore the name of his native ‘State of Maine,’ to which, in his last letter, he had so confidently predicted his return. The prediction was indeed fulfilled to the ear, but not to the sense; for, on the arrival of the vessel at her destination, he was found dead on the deck. He is supposed to have died on the 17th of August, 1862, as the steamer was entering the port of Philadelphia. His remains were hastily interred with those of some thirty others, all in unmarked and unnumbered graves, at Oak Grove Cemetery, about forty miles from Philadelphia; and when a brother, on the news of his death, hastened to the scene of its occurrence, it was too late to reclaim his body, or to obtain more than the few facts above recorded relating to his last moments.

The date of his death as given above is that which has been adopted by his family. According to the Report of the Adjutant-General of the State of Maine for the year 1862, it occurred a few days later.

He died unmarried.

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