“Very few men suffered so much for their country”: How Private Cornelius Stone Beat the Odds at Cold Harbor

Cornelius Stone later in life. (Image courtesy of David Morin.)

Imagine being shot four times and wounded by artillery fire twice in an hour of ferocious combat. Imagine spending the next six days out in the open without even the most elementary medical attention. Imagine barely being able to crawl thirty feet with a broken arm and a shattered knee to safety. And then imagine spending a year recovering from this terrible collection of wounds. Cornelius Hathaway Stone of the 5th New Hampshire did not have to imagine these things; he lived them.

Stone was born in 1844 in Cornish, NH to a family of very modest means. After a stint in Weathersfield, VT, Stone’s father moved the family to Claremont, NH, where the Census of 1860 found him a “Laborer” with $800 in real estate and $100 in personal estate.[i]

Stone enlisted in the 5th New Hampshire in Manchester, NH, on February 12, 1862. Why he enlisted there instead of at home is puzzling; 1st Lieutenant Jacob Keller was then recruiting for the regiment in Claremont. Perhaps Stone, who was underage, sought to avoid detection by someone who knew him. Or maybe his father had tried to stop him from enlisting. Whatever the case, Stone was mustered in on February 28, 1862. A muster roll describes him as a “Laborer” with black eyes, black hair, and a dark complexion. He measured a mere 5’ 4”.[ii]

Stone’s first 18 months in the 5th New Hampshire proved uneventful. He passed through the fights at Fair Oaks, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg unscathed—something of a feat when so many of his fellow soldiers were killed or wounded in these battles. Stone’s odyssey only began when he was captured on July 26, 1863 at White Plains, Virginia.

Most of what follows comes from Otis Waite’s Claremont War History (1868).[iii] When the Civil War started, Waite, a wealthy local worthy involved in the insurance business, was designated Claremont’s semi-official “historiographer” to “keep a record of events” in town during the war. This task he faithfully pursued, writing a book that not only described what transpired in town but also included short biographies of every man from Claremont who served in the Union forces during the war. In a number of cases—including Stone’s—it’s clear that Waite spoke to the subjects of these biographies; the detail is such that one can almost hear these men talking.

Although Stone went into much detail about other events, he had nothing to say about the circumstances of his capture, and one wonders if these did not reflect well on him. He proved particularly unlucky in his timing; the 5th New Hampshire was shipped off to Concord, NH, to rest and recruit only a week after his capture. Stone was initially sent to Libby Prison before being taken to Belle Isle where he “was kept one hundred and fourteen days.” He was obviously proud of having survived this infamous camp, but he provided no details about his incarceration. Is it possible that he might not have been so proud of what he needed to do to survive? According to a number of accounts, starving, sick, ill-clad Union prisoners at Belle Isle frequently brawled over scarce food, blankets and clothing. The losers often perished. This experience must have been traumatic for young Stone.

Belle Isle (ca. 1863). This image was taken by photographer Charles R. Rees. (See Valentine Museum).

Although he may not have realized it, Stone was lucky in one regard. In February 1864, Confederate authorities sought to mitigate overcrowding at Belle Isle by sending Union POWs to Andersonville, Salisbury, and Danville—all of which were notorious for high mortality rates.[iv] Stone, however, was paroled and then exchanged on May 28, 1864—just in time to rejoin the 5th New Hampshire for the Overland Campaign.[v] Less than a week later, on June 3, 1864, he participated in the Army of the Potomac’s massive three-corps assault at Cold Harbor.

For the 5th New Hampshire, the early-morning attack began well. Although the regiments on either side of this unit had gone to ground seeking the shelter of the Dispatch Station Road, the 5th New Hampshire pressed on. Halfway through the assault, Colonel Charles Hapgood, then commander of the regiment, noticed that fire from the Confederate salient west of the McGhee House had slackened, largely because the 7th New York Heavy Artillery had overrun the Southern works in that area. Hapgood changed the axis of his attack by ordering the regiment to wheel right (northward) at the double-quick so that he, too, could push his men into the salient. The soldiers from New Hampshire punched right through a Virginia regiment, collected large numbers of prisoners, and without hesitation pressed westward till they had seized the McGhee House and its outbuildings. Here the 5th New Hampshire was met by the 2nd Maryland and Finnegan’s Florida Brigade who, by force of numbers, drove the Northerners back into the salient. A vicious melee ensued that included hand-to-hand fighting and the discharge of canister at extremely short range as the 5th New Hampshire along with the 7th New York Heavy Artillery clung to their dearly bought position inside Confederate lines.[vi] The outnumbered Northerners, “fired upon from front and both flanks, and failing of any support” (to quote Major James Larkin of the 5th New Hampshire), were eventually compelled to flee in disorder. In all, the 5th New Hampshire lost over 200 casualties.[vii]

Alfred Waud, “7th N.Y. Heavy Arty. in Barlows charge nr. Cold Harbor Friday June 3rd 1864” (1864): This sketch is often represented as depicting the 7th New York Heavy Artillery leaving its trenches to start its assault on the Confederate fortifications. The presence of Confederate prisoners in the foreground of the image, though, indicates that Waud sought to show the regiment fighting on or near the Confederate entrenchments. In attempting to maintain a toehold inside the rebel position, the New Yorkers were assisted by the 5th New Hampshire which was the only other Union regiment that breached the Confederate line. Both units suffered stiff losses from the intense close-quarters fighting that took place near the McGhee House. The 7th New York Heavy Artillery suffered 420 casualties while the soldiers from the Granite State lost over 200 men. (See Library of Congress.)

One of them was Stone. A bullet had broken his right arm. Two more bullets had struck him in the leg below the knee. A fourth bullet had pierced his side. He had taken some grapeshot in the knee while some shrapnel had struck him in the back. For the next six days, he lay in a Confederate-occupied rifle pit. During that time, according to Stone, the rebels took from him $50, his tobacco, and all his valuables (which is entirely believable). Also, during that time, Stone claimed he had “nothing to eat or drink” (which is less believable). Over those six days, he had plenty of time to contemplate what surely must have seemed like his impending death. On June 9, the rebels retreated, and Union forces had advanced to within “two rods” of Stone’s rifle pit. That night, Stone, who was “so weak from his sufferings and the loss of blood that he could hardly speak or move,” “crawled with the utmost difficulty” toward the Northern breastworks and fell into the hands of the 2nd Delaware Volunteer Infantry. His ordeal had just begun.

Gilbert Gaul, “Between the Lines during a Truce” from Battles and Leaders of the Civil War, volume 3 (1888): After the failure of Grant’s June 3, 1864 assault on Lee’s position at Cold Harbor, the two commanders bickered over the terms of a truce that would have permitted the two armies to collect their wounded and bury their dead. It was not until June 7 that Grant and Lee finally concluded an agreement. This delay spelled the doom of many Union soldiers who had been wounded in the June 3 attack and stuck between the two armies. It was nothing short of miraculous that Stone, who lay inside the Confederate position for six days, survived his ordeal.

Stone’s wounds were tended to on the morning of June 10, and he was taken to White House Landing, “riding fourteen miles over corduroy roads in an army wagon” (ugh!). From White House Landing, he traveled to Mansion House Hospital in Alexandria, VA (by steamer, I presume), where his leg was amputated above the knee. Over five months later, the stump nearly healed, he was forwarded to Boston, MA, for a stay at Pemberton Square Hospital (now the site of Government Center). While hobbling to the hospital, his crutch slipped on the sidewalk, and he injured his leg badly. Gangrene set in, and four more inches of his leg had to be amputated. The surgeon “told Stone and his friends that he probably could not live through the operation, though he could not possibly live without it.” Stone survived the 90-minute procedure and, after six weeks, was sent on to a military hospital in Manchester, NH. Eventually, he traveled to Central Park Hospital in New York City to be fitted with an artificial leg, and it was here that he was eventually discharged from the army on June 8, 1865. Waite concluded this tale by rightfully stating “very few men suffered so much for their country as did young Stone.”

Stone now faced the rest of his life minus a leg. How did he fare?

At this great remove in time with only the barest of documentation, it’s hard to say. Stone took a step in the right direction when he obtained a much-deserved pension in July 1865.[viii] In September 1865, he was back in Claremont where he married 15-year-old Harriet N. Chase.[ix] That he was married so soon after returning to Claremont suggests that Stone had known Chase before his enlistment (he had not been back to Claremont since then)—that is, when she had been 11 or 12.[x] Although marrying a girl of this age was legal and not unheard of, it was also a bit unusual and somewhat skeevy. In 1866, the newlyweds had a son—their only child—named Charles.

We next find Stone in 1880, living in Goodwin Township in the Dakota Territory, not far from the Minnesota border. While his wife “kept house” and his 14-year-old son worked as a “farmhand,” Stone plied his occupation as a machinist [xi] The township had just been incorporated a couple of years before and numbered only about 600 souls (four times larger than its current population of 140). What could bring a machinist to this end of the world?

Stone, however, was not done traveling. The 1890 Veterans Census placed him in Shelton, WA. Even had the form not indicated his regiment, it would be impossible to mistake him. Under “Disability Incurred,” we find the following laconic comment: “Six wounds; one leg amputated.” Under “Remarks,” there appears, “Prisoner on Belle Isle.”[xii] One can almost imagine Stone telling the census-taker the same story he told Waite—with perhaps a few embellishments that had sprouted up over time. What brought Stone to Washington is unknown. Since all we have from that year is the Veterans Census, we know nothing of his family situation.

What we can surmise, though, is that by the early 1890s, Harriet was out of the picture—whether through death or divorce, it is impossible to say. The reason we can make this surmise is because Stone married Gertrude Slade in 1894.[xiii] This marriage did not take, for by the 1900 Census, Stone was divorced. By this point, he was still working as a machinist. He lived in Hadlock, WA, with Charles who was now married and had two daughters and a son.[xiv]

Cornelius Stone after the war sporting some sort of fraternal regalia. (See FindAGrave.) 

Stone died in March 1901 in Shelton, WA.[xv] What are we to make of Stone’s post-war experiences? If we so wished, we could stress the signs of a life where all was not well—the young teenage bride, a marriage that produced only one child, the restless movement westward, the divorce, and the early death. Literature about Civil War veterans often tends to emphasize the lingering effects of trauma on men who suffered much during the conflict. While I certainly do not wish to minimize his pain, I’d like to point to evidence of ways in which Stone may have compensated for this suffering by finding meaning in his life. His headstone, which appears on FindAGrave, bears two important symbols. One, located above his name, appears to be associated with a fraternal order. Indeed, in one of the few photos I’ve seen of Stone, he is outfitted in the regalia of such an order (which one, I cannot tell). The other symbol carved into the side of his stone represents a Grand Army of the Republic badge.[xvi] Perhaps I’m reading too much into Stone’s headstone, but it appears that he found comfort in masculine associations of likeminded men with similar experiences. These may have substituted for the camaraderie he had experienced in the 5th New Hampshire and helped support him psychologically during difficult times for the rest of his life.

Stone’s marker in Shelton Memorial Park in Shelton, WA. The fraternal symbol appears above his name. On the other face of the stone visible to viewer, one can detect a representation of the GAR badge. Click to enlarge. (See FindAGrave.)

[i] “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M7WG-PF3 : 11 November 2020), Cornelius Stone in entry for Geo D Stone, 1860.

[ii] “New Hampshire, Civil War Service and Pension Records, 1861-1866,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:Q27M-MB52 : 16 March 2018), Cornelius H Stone, 12 Feb 1862; citing Manchester, Manchester, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States, New Hampshire Secretary of State, Division of Records Management & Archive; FHL microfilm 2,257,887.

[iii] Otis F. R. Waite, Claremont War History; April, 1861, to April 1865 (Concord, NH: McFarland & Jenks, Printers, 1868), 138-141.

[iv] https://www.encyclopediavirginia.org/belle_isle_prison#start_entry

[v] Ayling’s Revised Register has Stone re-enlisting on March 29, 1864 while Waite has the date as April 1, 1864. How Stone could have re-enlisted while he was still in prison remains unclear to me.

[vi] Gordon C. Rhea, Cold Harbor: Grant and Lee May 26-June 3, 1864 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 2002), 324-327.

[vii] William Child, A History of the Fifth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers (Bristol, NH: R. W. Musgrove, Printer, 1893), 270.

[viii] “United States General Index to Pension Files, 1861-1934”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QJDP-JNNG : 13 March 2018), Cornelius H Stone, 1865.

[ix] “New Hampshire Marriage Records, 1637-1947,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FLFH-P2N : 2 April 2020), Cornelieus H. Stone and Harriett N. Chase, 09 Sep 1865; citing Claremont, Sullivan, New Hampshire, Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord; FHL microfilm 1,001,307.

[x] The marriage record claims she was born in Claremont and resided there, but I have not been able to find her in the Census of 1860, when she was presumably ten years old.

[xi] “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MCVQ-QJ7 : 12 November 2020), Cornelius Stone, Goodwin, Deuel, Dakota Territory, United States; citing enumeration district ED 46, sheet 500A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,254,112.

[xii] “United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War, 1890,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K8S4-F1V : 11 March 2018), Cornelius H Stone, 1890; citing NARA microfilm publication M123 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 338,267.

[xiii] “Washington, County Marriages, 1855-2008,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:QPMK-B914 : 28 November 2018), Cornelius H Stone and Gertrude Slade, 1 Dec 1894, Shelton, Mason, Washington, United States, Washington State Archives, Olympia; FamilySearch digital folder 102115024.

[xiv] “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MMP6-6W9 : accessed 23 November 2020), Cornelius H Stone in household of Charles Stone, Chimacum and Hadlock Precincts, Jefferson, Washington, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 46, sheet 4B, family 108, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,241,743.

[xv] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/28474828/_

[xvi] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/28474828/_

Charles H. Corey, John Bracy, and Some Wild Thoughts on Goffstown Back Road

Amoskeag Cemetery with Charles H. Corey’s headstone in the foreground.

Today, I decided to check out Charles Harry Corey’s gravesite at Amoskeag Cemetery in Manchester, NH. After Joseph Carraway (who is interred in Goffstown’s Westlawn Cemetery, just a couple of block from my house), Corey is the 5th New Hampshire veteran buried closest to my home. Although my kids didn’t have anything to do and looked oppressed by the tedium of the stay-at-home order, nobody felt like joining my expedition. So I went alone to Amoskeag Cemetery.

Sunday afternoon found me driving on Goffstown Back Road wondering if this thoroughfare has more cemeteries than any other stretch of pavement of similar length. Driving eastward, one first encounters Hillside Cemetery in Grasmere where the original settlement of Goffstown took place back in the mid-18th century (and it is a hilly cemetery). A couple of miles farther down the road, there’s Holy Trinity Polish National Cemetery which appears on both sides of Goffstown Back Road, first on the right, then on the left. And after one clears the last big hill before Manchester, Mount Calvary Cemetery presents its sweeping vistas. This burial ground is enormous and not even close to being filled. Having passed this impressive spectacle on your left, you may be forgiven for failing to notice shortly thereafter an old, tall iron gate between two houses on your right. This is one of the entrances to Amoskeag Cemetery.

Amoskeag Cemetery is more commonly approached from its south side, on Fieldcrest Road. The word “commonly,” though, is perhaps misleading. Aside from the fact that the City of Manchester apparently sends somebody to mow the grass, this cemetery is otherwise forgotten. A flag never tops the flagpole. Several of the headstones have fallen down. No one leaves flowers or candles. One finds none of the old GAR or American Legion markers that are so prominent at Westlawn Cemetery in Goffstown. The waist-high iron fence around the cemetery is very old and very rusty. It is a small, sad place surrounded on three sides by a middle-class neighborhood.

The oldest headstones I found there date back to just before the mid-19th century (the Dow family’s memorials are especially prominent). The cemetery’s heyday appears to have been the late 19th and early 20th centuries. There are several headstones that date from the 1980s or 1990s, but these seem really out of place.

I was surprised at how quickly I found Corey’s marker; it took only a couple of minutes. It helped that he had a government-issued headstone.

Chas. H. Corey, Co. C., 5 N.H. Inf.

The headstone does not look as clean as the image that appears on Find A Grave. Considering the general state of the cemetery, I wasn’t surprised.

Corey had an undistinguished Civil War career with the 5th New Hampshire. Born in Plainfield, NH, in 1837, he was still living there and working as a farm laborer when he enlisted in Company C. This company, led by James B. Perry, was recruited mainly in Grafton County (e.g. Lebanon, Orford, and Hanover) although Plainfield, NH, in Sullivan County, contributed 7 men. Corey spent less than 8 months with the regiment; he was discharged disabled on June 6, 1862 from Washington, DC, presumably after a stay in a hospital. Since there was no record of his being wounded, Corey was probably part of that huge efflux of soldiers who had fallen ill during the Peninsula campaign (malaria, fly-borne diseases, poor diet, and lack of clean drinking water proved a potent combination).[i]

Corey’s post-war career was hard for me to track. I could find no information about him before 1880. According to the census of that year, Corey was living in Manchester with his wife and son and working as a machinist.[ii] Towards the end of his life, he became a janitor at Amoskeag School.[iii] On November 23, 1911, while walking home from work, the elderly Corey was crossing Elm Street near the intersection with Penacook when he was struck by a car. The accident must have been gruesome; according to his death certificate, Corey suffered from a “rupture of [the] right lung & heart.” He was later laid to rest in Amoskeag Cemetery.[iv]

Amoskeag School, Corey’s last place of employment is only half a mile from Amoskeag Cemetery. After I visited Corey’s gravesite, I drove to the school and took this photo. Sitting as it does next to Amoskeag Circle, which handles a great deal of traffic, the school is a minor landmark due to the giant pencil that cuts through one corner of the building. For some years, the school housed an education consultancy and at some point during this period somebody got the bright idea of hanging the pencil on the building. The consultancy is gone and now an accounting agency occupies the old school.

As I walked around the cemetery, which was about 30 yards by 70 yards (at most), I saw a number of government-issued headstones for Civil War veterans. The headstone below caught my attention because it was leaning forward at a crazy angle.

It marks the grave of Corporal John E. Gerry of Company G, 4th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. Gerry was a resident of Manchester, NH, who joined the 4th New Hampshire in August 1861. He re-enlisted in February 1864 and was afterwards appointed Corporal. His entry in Ayling’s Revised Register states that he was killed on January 16, 1865 in the “explosion of magazine, Ft. Fisher, N.C.”[v] This laconic comment piqued my interest. After a brief investigation on the internet, I discovered that the day after Federal troops famously captured Fort Fisher (which guarded Wilmington, NC, the Confederacy’s last major port), the main magazine blew up, killing several hundred Union soldiers and Confederate prisoners. How did this horrible accident come to pass? Wikipedia has helpfully posted the findings of the court of inquiry that ensued.

FINDINGS.

After mature deliberation upon the foregoing evidence the court finds that the following are the main facts, viz:

Immediately after the capture of the fort General Ames gave orders to Lieut. Samuel M. Zent, Thirteenth Indiana Volunteers, through Capt. George W. Huckins, Fourth New Hampshire Volunteers, acting assistant adjutant-general, Third Brigade, Second Division, to place guards on all the magazines and bombproofs. Lieutenant-Colonel Zent commenced on the northwest corner of the fort next [to] the river, following the traverses round, and placed guards on thirty-one entrances under the traverses. The main magazine which afterward exploded, being in the rear of the traverses, escaped his notice, and consequently had no guards from his regiment or any other. That soldiers, sailors and marines were running about with lights in the fort, entering bombproofs with these lights, intoxicated and discharging firearms. That personas were seen with lights searching for plunder in the main magazine some ten of fifteen minutes previous to the explosion. The court do not [sic] attach any importance to the report that a magnetic wire connected this work [fort] with some work on the opposite side of the Cape Fear River.

OPINION.

The opinion of the court, therefore, is that the explosion was the result of carelessness on the part of persons to them unknown. The court then adjourned sine die

— JOSEPH C. ABBOTT,
Brevet Brigadier-General, U.S. Volunteers, President of Court.

— GEORGE F. TOWLE,
Captain Fourth New Hampshire Volunteers, Acting Assistant Inspector-General and Recorder.[vi]

In other words, it was a bunch of drunken, careless men who blew their comrades (and possibly themselves) sky-high.

I also found the barely legible headstone of Quartermaster Sergeant James A. Hills (above). Born in Antrim, NH, Hills was working as a farm laborer in Manchester, NH, when he volunteered for the 7th New Hampshire (October 1861) and was mustered in as a private.[vii] He re-enlisted in February 1864 and in December of that year was appointed Quartermaster Sergeant—the second-highest non-commissioned rank in the regiment. I have no idea what accounted for this dramatic elevation. The official history of the regiment simply states that once the men who had not re-enlisted had mustered out at the end of their three years’ service, “arrangements regarding promotions began at once to be made, in order to fill the vacancies which had been caused by muster-out.” And thus was Hills promoted to Quartermaster Sergeant. He must have done something very special.[viii]

Hills returned to Manchester after the war to become a clerk in a hotel owned by Daniel O. Webster.[ix] It appears that the war had transformed the young farm laborer into a man of business. In 1875, he married Ellen J. Blood, and on paper, it certainly seemed as if things were looking up for Hills. Unfortunately, the end was nigh; in 1877, Hills died of consumption. He was only 35 year old.[x] Just over a year later, his young widow died of the same illness.[xi]

The order for James A. Hills’ headstone—the self-same one I saw in Amoskeag Cemetery.

I spotted a several other government-issued headstones for Civil War veterans, but these were so badly eroded that I could not read them.

Ironically, the best-preserved government-issued headstone in the cemetery belonged to a man who had not fought in a New Hampshire regiment and had not even been born in the United States. John Bracy first saw the light of day in Stanstead, Canada in 1835. An English-speaking Canadian, he moved to Malone, NY (which is about as far upstate as one can get). It was here that he enlisted in the 16th New York Volunteer Infantry on September 6, 1862. He didn’t last long in the army since he was discharged disabled on February 5, 1863.[xii]

Bracy moved back to Malone after the war.[xiii] According to one website, Bracy was still living in Malone at the time of the 1890 Veterans Census.[xiv] For whatever reason, though, he and his family appear to have moved to Manchester at some point in the early 1890s; in 1892, Bracy’s daughter, Annie, married John H. Miller (an English-speaking Canadian who had emigrated to the United States in 1881) in the Queen City.[xv] Miller perhaps got more than he bargained for—along with Annie, he also took in his new in-laws. The 1900 Census has all of them living together in the same rented house on Walnut Street, only a few blocks away from Corey’s last residence.[xvi] Miller did well for himself, becoming an overseer in one of the city’s many cotton mills. He took his extended family out of the city center and moved to a property on Goffstown Back Road that currently abuts the eastern edge of Mount Calvary Cemetery.[xvii] In all likelihood, the Millers’ oldest children—John and Marion (13 and 6, respectively, in 1910)—attended Amoskeag School while Corey worked there.[xviii] On November 27, 1912, a year and four days after Corey was killed by an automobile, Bracy died in the Miller household of a stroke.[xix]

As I drove home, I ruminated on the fact that the thousands of people buried alongside Goffstown Back Road were tied together by family, work, and friendship. This web of relationships has left the barest of traces, and now we can form only the haziest sense of their substance through the documents they left behind. Did Bracy’s grandchildren, John and Marion Miller, know Corey, the old janitor at their school? Did Bracy himself know Corey? Who knows? What is interesting is that this great tangled knot of people is not so distant from out time as we might think. Marion died in Manchester in the 1980s. In other words, had I lived in the Queen City while attending high school, I could have spoken to someone who knew a Civil War veteran intimately.

Something tells me that Bracy’s descendants are still living in the Manchester area. Clearly, somebody has remembered John Bracy and tried to maintain that link between our time and his. When I was at his plot, I noticed that his marker was very clean and well preserved. And a small but brand-new flag was placed next to his stone—the only sign that anybody had visited Amoskeag Cemetery in weeks.


[i] Ayling’s Revised Register, 225.

[ii] “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MHRN-ZH5 : 12 August 2017), Charles H Corey, 1880; citing enumeration district ED 122, sheet 25A, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d), roll 0763; FHL microfilm 1,254,763.

[iii] “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MLZ7-195 : accessed 13 February 2019), Charles H Corey in household of Eliza M Hoskings, Manchester Ward 2, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 125, sheet 5A, family 76, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 862; FHL microfilm 1,374,875.

[iv] “New Hampshire Death Records, 1654-1947,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FSVZ-MPR : 10 March 2018), Charles H. Corey, 23 Nov 1911; citing Manchester, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, Bureau Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord; FHL microfilm 2,078,970.

[v] Ayling’s Revised Register, 173.

[vi] According to Wikipedia, this is the citation for the findings: United States War Department. The War of the Rebellion, A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880–1901. (Series I, Vol. 46, Reports, pp. 430–431).

[vii] “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M7WY-RG1 : 19 March 2020), James A Hills in entry for James Emerson, 1860.

[viii] The regiment had originally mustered in December 1861 for three years, so these arrangements took place in December 1864. Henry F. W. Little, The Seventh Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers of the War of the Rebellion (Concord, NH: Ira C. Evans, 1896), 351-352.

[ix] “United States Census, 1870”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MH5N-DDW : 19 March 2020), James A Hills in entry for David O Webster, 1870.

[x] “New Hampshire Death Records, 1654-1947,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FS2H-G42 : 10 March 2018), James A Hill, 19 Feb 1877; citing , Bureau Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord; FHL microfilm 1,001,083.

[xi] “New Hampshire Deaths and Burials, 1784-1949”, database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FDV8-LPR : 18 January 2020), James A. Hills in entry for Ellen J. Hills, 1878.

[xii] https://dmna.ny.gov/historic/reghist/civil/rosters/Infantry/16th_
Infantry_CW_Roster.pdf

[xiii] “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZ87-Q6X : 17 August 2017), John Bracey, Malone, Franklin, New York, United States; citing enumeration district ED 91, sheet 665B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,254,834. According to his wife’s death certificate, Bracy was a fireman on a locomotive. “New Hampshire Deaths and Burials, 1784-1949”, database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FD24-HPD : 18 January 2020), John Bracy in entry for Annie Elizabeth Miller, 1939. However, the 1870 Census, the 1875 New York Census and the 1880 Census all refer to him as a “laborer.” See “United States Census, 1870”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M8X6-NTG : 18 March 2020), John Bracey, 1870; “New York State Census, 1875,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VT8R-K5G : 3 April 2020), John Bracy, Malone, Franklin, New York, United States; citing p. 17, line 21, State Library, Albany; FHL microfilm 878,021; “United States Census, 1880,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZ87-Q6X : 17 August 2017), John Bracey, Malone, Franklin, New York, United States; citing enumeration district ED 91, sheet 665B, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), FHL microfilm 1,254,834.

[xiv] http://www.usgennet.org/usa/ny/county/franklin1/civilwar/1890.html

[xv] “New Hampshire, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1636-1947,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3QS7-L99K-H4MG?cc=1987741&wc=M6CK-J68%3A265835901%2C265948201%2C266070201 : 29 November 2018), Hillsborough > Manchester > Marriages 1892 > image 687 of 691; New Hampshire Bureau of Vital Records and Statistics, Concord.

[xvi] “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M3Y4-KXK : accessed 20 April 2020), John Bracey in household of John H Miller, Manchester city Ward 2, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 93, sheet 24B, family 576, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.).

[xvii] FHL microfilm 1,240,947; “United States Census, 1910,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MLZ7-TPL : accessed 20 April 2020), John Bracey in household of John H Miller, Manchester Ward 2, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 124, sheet 18A, family 41, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 862; FHL microfilm 1,374,875. When Bracy died, he was living at 309 Goffstown Road, Manchester, NH. See “New Hampshire Death Records, 1654-1947,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FSK9-5D3 : 11 March 2018), John Bracey, 27 Nov 1912; citing Manchester, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, Bureau Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord; FHL microfilm 2,070,934.

[xviii] Amoskeag School served those students who lived in that area on the west side of the Merrimack River. It was about three-quarters of a mile away from the Millers lived.

[xix] “New Hampshire Death Records, 1654-1947,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FSK9-5D3 : 11 March 2018), John Bracey, 27 Nov 1912; citing Manchester, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, Bureau Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord; FHL microfilm 2,070,934.

A Little Bit of 5th New Hampshire History in Goffstown–Plus Something I Didn’t Know

In New Hampshire, we’re subject to a stay-at-home order which limits the kinds of things we can do. It seems clear that if we don’t behave ourselves and the pandemic gets worse, we will move to shelter in place (although the governor seems reluctant to move in that direction). With that in mind, it’s hard to think about what to do with your kids—if, that is, your kids want anything to do with you. But I did find something.

I recently remembered that in the pool of 5th New Hampshire veterans I was studying, there was one man who was buried in Goffstown, NH: Joseph Caraway. Indeed, he’s the only figure among the veterans I’ve studied (almost 400) who had any connection to Goffstown whatsoever. And, I thought, why not find his headstone? I looked him up in the data I’d collected and found to my delight that he was buried in Westlawn Cemetery which is only about a 10-minute walk from my house. So, I told my daughter that we were going on a big adventure to the local cemetery. She’s a freshman in high school, but she still falls for that kind of thing, although she did ask, “How long is this going to take?” I have to give her credit for being a good sport.

Vivien was a good sport.

We walked to the cemetery together, armed with the proper spelling of Caraway’s name, his birth and death dates, and a photo of his headstone that I found on Find A Grave. I had some trepidations because Westlawn is an old cemetery (although not as old as Hillside Cemetery in Grasmere which is where the original settlement of Goffstown took place). I feared that the system by which graves were organized would have changed repeatedly over the years and that it would be impossible to locate Caraway’s burial place. I have to say, though, that I had very little trouble. We found the cemetery directory in a small cabinet on the wall of the large shed that sits at the Church Street entrance and started thumbing through the pages.

First we found the index with all the names of those buried at Westlawn. Caraway was buried in Range #3, Lot #9.

We then located a map of Ranges #1 through #6 with Caraway’s grave clearly marked.

And then we established where Ranges #1 through #6 were in the cemetery.

It took all of five minutes.

We walked about two-thirds the length of the cemetery and espied Caraway’s headstone without any difficulty. It appears that since the Find A Grave image was taken, someone had cleaned Caraway’s marker. It’s in very good shape.

What do I know about Joseph Caraway? (His name is spelled “Carraway” in Ayling’s Revised Register.) Caraway was the son of Jean-Baptiste Danis (1812-1863) and Sophia Blome (1816-1903).[i] Both of Caraway’s parents were Quebecois, although accounts differ about where exactly they were born.[ii] They appear to have been married in 1837 in Baie-du-Febvre on the south bank of the St. Lawrence River halfway between Sorel and Trois-Rivières.[iii] Not long afterwards, they moved just a couple of miles across the American border to Franklin, VT. Shortly after relocating to the United States, Danis changed his surname to Caraway. It was in Franklin that Joseph Caraway— our Caraway—was born in 1843, on the older end of a very large brood.[iv] By 1860, 17-year-old Caraway was still living in Franklin where he worked as a laborer on Benjamin Wilson’s farm. Wilson, who had been born in Canada East (or “Lower Canada”) was extremely wealthy by the standards of the time, with real estate valued at $10,000.[v]

According to Ayling’s Revised Register, Caraway was living in Orford, NH, when he joined the 5th New Hampshire in September 1861.[vi] Why exactly he left Franklin, VT, is unclear, but the Census of 1860 reveals that Caraway’s parents now lived with many of their children (nine of them, in fact) in Lyme, NH, which was only a few miles from Orford.[vii]

Caraway was mustered into Company C as a private. This company was commanded (and partially recruited) by Captain James Perry. The great majority of men in this company came from Grafton County. The towns that contributed the most volunteers to this unit were Lebanon, Orford, and Hanover—all of which made sense since Perry and Nathan H. Randlett, his 1st Lieutenant (who also helped recruit the company), lived in Lebanon. The only unusual feature of this company was the large number of Canadian-born recruits. Where 5% of the regiment’s original volunteers were born in Canada (around 50 men), 12 of Company C’s 100 recruits were. In other words, a quarter of all the Canadians in the regiment were in Company C. Of these, though, only four (to judge from their last names) might have been French speakers: Stephen Bodo, Henry Daniel, Octave Labarre, and Isaac Loungeverns. (There was also a true-blue Frenchman enrolled in the company named Peter Thebeaux.).[viii]

Not having been to Washington, DC, to do archival work yet, I know little of Caraway’s service. However, Ayling’s Revised Register reveals that he was wounded at the Battle of Fair Oaks (June 1, 1862)—the regiment’s first major fight. The surgeon’s report for that battle, which was published in the New Hampshire Statesman on June 21, 1862, shows that Caraway had a “finger amputated.” He was discharged disabled on February 14, 1863. Whether the discharge bore any relation to his wound is unclear.[ix]

This discharge was not the end of Caraway’s military service. The Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteers indicates that in June 1863, while living in Hartford, VT (just across the Connecticut River from Lebanon, NH), Caraway joined Company L of the 11th Vermont Volunteer Infantry. The regiment garrisoned a number of forts in the Washington, DC, area before being redesignated the 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery in December 1863. In the spring of 1864, the unit was ordered to operate as infantry during the Overland Campaign in Virginia. The 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery saw hard fighting throughout 1864 and 1865. Caraway was apparently wounded on March 27, 1865 in fighting near Petersburg, VA (at what appears to have been the engagement at Mcllwaine’s Mill).[x] He was mustered out on May 13, 1865.[xi]

In the meantime, Caraway’s overaged father volunteered for the 15th New Hampshire on September 8, 1862 and was mustered in exactly a month later. The regiment was engaged in the Siege of Port Hudson in Louisiana before it was mustered out on August 13, 1863 (it was a nine-month regiment).[xii] Danis died just over three months later in Orford. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that at his age (he was almost 50), army service may have proved too much for him.[xiii]

At some point shortly after the war, Caraway married Nora Basha (b. 1851) who appears to have emigrated to the United States from Canada in 1855. I have not been able to find where they were married.[xiv] In fact, I haven’t been able to establish Caraway’s whereabouts after the war until 1877, when a son of his was born in Goffstown. The only other important information I could glean from the birth certificate was that Caraway was a simple “laborer.” [xv] It appears that for the rest of his working life, he remained one. The Census of 1900 indicates that Caraway’s “mother tongue” was French and that he could neither read nor write. [xvi]  The Census of 1920, however, records that he could read and write.[xvii] Despite his humble occupation and his possible struggles with literacy, Caraway owned his own house free and clear in 1900. It also appears that he had at least six children.[xviii]

This image of Joseph Caroway appears on his Find A Grave page

At some point, for reasons unknown, Caraway moved to Epping, NH, before 1920 and died there on December 9, 1925.[xix] It’s clear, though, that he considered Goffstown his home because both he and Nora (d. 1929) chose to be buried there.

If you thought this story was over, it isn’t. Because buried right next to Caraway, for no apparent reason, is Wesley Wyman. His government-issued headstone caught my eye with the following inscription:

WESLEY WYMAN
NEW HAMPSHIRE
DROWNED OFF
COAST OF IRELAND
SINKING OF
U. S. COAST GUARD
CUTTER TAMPA
SEPTEMBER 26, 1918

This is exactly the reason I love walking through graveyards or reading old newspapers. It’s so easy to get distracted by the different stories that both offer. I wondered—was this cutter sunk by a U-boat during World War I?

I immediately headed to the internet to find out. Apparently the USCGC Tampa had just finished escorting convoy HG-107 from Gibraltar to the Irish Sea (where the convoy was bound for Wales) when the cutter was torpedoed by UB-91 at a range of just over 500 meters. All 147 hands went down with the ship—mainly Coast Guardsmen with some US Navy personnel, sailors from the Royal Navy, and several civilians. It was the greatest loss the United States suffered at sea due to enemy action during World War I. Only three bodies were ever recovered which leads me to believe that Wyman’s tombstone is a memorial and not a marker.[xx] Until I saw this inscription, I’d never heard the story of the USCGC Tampa. But I’m glad I stopped to take a look. Now I know.

The USCGC Tampa (ca. 1916) (from Wikipedia)

[i] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/101680769

[ii] Find A Grave has Jean-Baptiste born in Saint-Donat-de-Montcalm (a wild area about 75 miles northwest of Montreal) and Sophia in Yamaska (about 50 miles northeast of Montreal). A family tree I located on FamilySearch claims that Jean-Baptiste was born in Saint-Michel-d’Yamaska and that Sophia was born in Trois-Rivières. See https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83862589/jean_baptiste-danis; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/89504285/sophia-caraway; and https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/LDQW-QWJ

[iii] See https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83862589/jean_baptiste-danis; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/89504285/sophia-caraway; and https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/LDQW-QWJ

[iv] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/101680769; see also Ayling’s Revised Register, 221 (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?q1=Carraway;id=mdp.39015011525055;view=1up;seq=243;start=1;sz=10;page=search;num=221).

[v] “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MFD4-4VM : 12 December 2017), Joseph Caraway in entry for Benjamin Wilson, 1860.

[vi] Ayling’s Revised Register, 221 (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?q1=Carraway;id=mdp.39015011525055;view=1up;seq=243;start=1;sz=10;page=search;num=221).

[vii] “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M7WR-NTT : 19 March 2020), John Caraway, 1860.

[viii] Most of this information comes from an Excel spreadsheet that compiled data from Ayling’s Revised Register.

[ix] Ayling’s Revised Register, 221 (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?q1=Carraway;id=mdp.39015011525055;view=1up;seq=243;start=1;sz=10;page=search;num=221).

[x] The 1890 Veterans Census does not indicate where Carraway was wounded. See “United States Census of Union Veterans and Widows of the Civil War, 1890,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K837-1F8 : 11 March 2018), Joseph Caraway, 1890; citing NARA microfilm publication M123 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 338,199. For the action at McIIlwaine’s Mill, see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Appomattox_campaign

[xi] See Revised Roster of Vermont Volunteers, 449 (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo1.ark:/13960/t9p27g94k&view=1up&seq=467)

[xii] Ayling’s Revised Register, 741 (https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015011525055&view=1up&seq=763).

[xiii] https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83862589/jean_baptiste-danis

[xiv] They were definitely married at some point between 1865 and 1868. A family tree on FamilySearch has the date falling in August 1867; https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/GMV2-JWT.

[xv] “New Hampshire Birth Records, Early to 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FLLZ-5BN : 10 March 2018), Joseph Carraway in entry for Joseph Carraway, 07 Feb 1877; citing Goffstown, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States, Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics, Concord; FHL microfilm 1,000,490.

[xvi] See the Census of 1900: “United States Census, 1900,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M3YW-8GG : accessed 24 January 2019), Joseph Caraway, Goffstown town, Hillsborough, New Hampshire, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 81, sheet 18A, family 325, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,947.

[xvii] “United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MH8T-CH2 : accessed 24 January 2019), Joseph Caraway, Epping, Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States; citing ED 119, sheet 3A, line 26, family 54, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1013; FHL microfilm 1,821,013.

[xviii] https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/GMV2-JWT

[xix] “United States Census, 1920,” database with images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MH8T-CH2 : accessed 24 January 2019), Joseph Caraway, Epping, Rockingham, New Hampshire, United States; citing ED 119, sheet 3A, line 26, family 54, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 1013; FHL microfilm; https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/101680769

[xx] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USCGC_Tampa_(1912)