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Nims' Battery Association

After over three years of association in camp and field the ties of comradeship among the members of the battery were too strong to be ignored and the mustering out of the original members had hardly severed the official bond than preparations were begun for the formation of an organization to be known as Nims' Battery Association. On December 10, 1864, a meeting was called at the Webster House, at which time this association was organized and officers elected.

The preamble to the constitution as given in the first secretary's book is as follows:

Associated as we have been together for the past three years both in camp and on the field of battle, bound together by more than brotherly ties, we should feel grateful for our safe return and proud to know that we once constituted a battery that knew no superior in style or action.

Therefore we the undersigned do organize an association for our mutual benefit and do hereby adopt the following rules and regulations to secure good order and to determine our rights, duties and privileges as members of said association.

The officers chosen at this time were: President, Henry E. Brown; Vice-President, George E. Ham; Secretary, P. J. Mayer; Treasurer, William D. Butts.

As the vice-president and secretary declined to serve, these offices were filled at a subsequent meeting by the election of C. B. Maxwell, Vice-President; J. S. Knowlton, Secretary.

It was voted that regular meetings should be held monthly and the place of meeting was to be at Evans Hall, Tremont Row.

The early records of the association give only a hint of the [80] life of the organization, but we will indicate a few incidents that may be of interest to the surviving members.

On March 27, 1865, we find that the battery attended as a body the grand mass meeting of the Veterans' Union held in Tremont Temple, while on June 1 at a grand procession in Boston it appeared on parade with badges and drum corps and bearing the colors carried by them during the war. A letter from Captain Nims, who was then in New Orleans, in reply to a request for the colors is incorporated in the records and may well be quoted here.

Your note dated April 4 came to hand yesterday morning requesting the loan of the company colors on all important occasions, once the colors borne by the noble old 2d Massachusetts Battery which I am ever proud to call mine. In answer I will say that it gives me great pleasure through the representative of the association to tender the use of the colors on all important occasions. Knowing well the past conduct of the members of the association, I have no fear for the care and protection of the colors while under their charge. Wishing all prosperity and happiness I subscribe myself

Respectfully your humble servant,

Although few fatalities occurred on the field or in camp among the members of the battery, the first year at home brought death to some of the number, among whom were Comrade J. C. Tate, who died on April 16, 1865, and Comrade Charles W. Green, who died on June 25 of the same year. In both instances the battery paid the last sad honors to its former comrades and in one case gave material aid as well. We also find under the date August 6, 1866 resolutions on the death of A. Barsantee, another one of the boys.

The first social event in the history of the association was a grand ball held about the first of March, 1865. Other [81] balls followed, and indeed they seem to have become annual affairs kept up for some time; for in a newspaper clipping we read: ‘The seventh annual ball of Nims' Battery Association took place last evening at Boylston Hall. As the members of this association bear an enviable reputation in matters of this kind the hall was filled with a very good humored and sociable company. . . . These balls always afford a good opportunity for old comrades to meet and enjoy social intercourse and pleasant reminiscences.’

As time went on and other duties and interests became more imperative, the monthly meeting at Evans Hall was no longer deemed advisable and Colonel Nims kindly tendered the use of a room at 80 Cambridge Street, where the association property could be kept and meetings held. This offer was accepted and the change made on July 15, 1867.

We have no records as to where and when the first annual banquet took place. We find, however, an interesting account of the fourth annual banquet taken from the Boston Journal, undated, which is as follows:

The fourth annual reunion of the Nims' Battery Association was held last evening in the parlors of the American House. About 40 members were present, most of them men who went out at the first and stayed at the post till the battery was mustered out of service. General William Schouler was the invited guest on this occasion.

After an hour's social intercourse the meeting was called to order by the President, Col. O. F. Nims.

The committee appointed to consider the matter of the preparation of the history of the battery reported that little progress had been made. Some material had been collected but more funds were needed. The matter was discussed quite freely, with the prevailing opinion that the work should be completed and published. . . . After dinner was served, General Schouler was called upon and said he was glad to meet Colonel Nims and his old command and would [82] only say what was said of them when at the front that this battery was one of the best, if not the best, that went from Massachusetts. . . . The regular toasts were then announced.

Our Country—response by Mr. Thomas Knights who sang America.

Massachusetts—response by Captain Marland.

Nims' Battery—response letter from Col. H. E. Paine, etc.

Another interesting meeting was held on December 12, 1879. ‘It was the first gathering of the old organization which had occurred for five years and fully 40 members were present accompanied by several of the 13th Battery. The early part of the evening was spent in social intercourse, singing of songs, and the election of officers. The after dinner exercises included speeches, reminiscences of camp life and interesting facts concerning the association since the close of the war. Letters of regret were received from many prominent members of the old battery and from Col. H. E. Paine of the 4th Wisconsin Regiment.’

Other notable occasions were the reunion at the home of Comrade John G. Dimick, Worcester, where the hospitality of the host and his wife made the meeting especially delightful, and the 25th anniversary in 1890 when nearly fifty of the boys together with Generals Dudley and Kimball and Past Deputy Commander Billings as guests gathered at the call of the bugler to a feast of good things and an evening of fellowship and army stories.

In 1888 the Nims' Battery Ladies' Social Club was organized and since that date has held its meetings annually at the time of the battery reunion. Its members are the mothers, wives, and daughters or indeed any relative of the men of the battery and its purpose is not solely social but mutually helpful as well. It aims to visit the sick among the members, to give material aid if necessary and in any way possible assist the organization to which it is auxiliary. [83]

The annual reunions were at first held on February 22, but in recent years this date has been changed to April 19.

As the years have passed the grim reaper Death has appeared more and more often and the ranks have gradually thinned until in 1912 only 14 of the regular members were present at the annual reunion.

To those who remain, however, the memories and associations of more than a half century ago are still precious, and form a bond which will be broken only when life itself shall cease. [84]

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