Thursday, April 14, 2011

Transcript of the Court Martial of Sergeant E. G. Towle

Everything transcribed is as it appears in the record, including abbreviations and punctuation.  In the interest of space, I didn't include the names and ranks of those present that comprised the Court.

Rendezvous for Drafted Men,
Concord, N. H. Nov. 6, 1863

The Court proceeded to the trial of Sergt. Elbridge G. Towle, 4th N.H.V. and the accused was brought into court.

The order convening the court and the order detailing additional numbers was made by the Judge Advocate and the accused was asked whether or not he had any objection to any number of the Court and to which he replied in the negative.

The Court as then in the presence of the accused, duly sworn by the Judge Advocate and and the Judge Advocate was duly sworn in the presence of the accused by the Presidency of the Court.

The accused was then arraigned of the following Charges and Specifications which were read aloud by the Judge Advocate.

Charge First - Desertion.

Specification. In this, that he, Sergeant Elbridge G Towle Co. H, Fourth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers, having been duly enlisted in the service of the United States, did desert the same.

This at the City of New York on or about the 26th of July 1863.

Charge Second - Absence without leave

Specification.  In this, that he, Sergeant Elbridge G Towle, Co H, Forth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers, being one of a detachment of said regiment under command of Captain David D Burleigh, on the way from said regiment to the Rendezvous for Drafted Men at Concord, N.H. did, on or about the 26th day of July, 1863, at the City of New York, absent himself from said detachment without permission from his commanding officer and did, remain absent until the 2nd day of September 1863, on which last mentioned day, he rejoined said detachment at the Camp for Drafted Men, Concord, N.H.

To which charges charges and specifications he prisoner pleads as follows, viz:

To the Specification of the 2nd Charge:    Not Guilty
To the Second Charge:   Not Guilty
To the Specification of the 1st Charge:  Not Guilty
To the First Charge:  Not Guilty

Capt. David D Burleigh, 4th N.H.V. a witness for the prosecution, called and sworn and examined by the Judge Advocate.

Question:  Please state your name, rank, and regiment.
Ans. David D Burleigh, Captain 4th NH Regiment
Question: Where were you, and on what duty on or about the 26th day of July last?
Ans: I was in New York about that time; I am not certain with regard to the day.  I was ordered by Special Order No 422 from Head Quarters Department of the South to report to the Officer Commanding at Concord, N.H. to conduct the men to the draft which might be assigned to the 4th Regiment.
Question:  Had you or not any men under your command or on duty and if so who were they?
Ans:  I had Lt. Brewster 4th Regiment, Sergt. Nolan of Co. A,  Sergt. Moody of Co. C, Sergt Chapman of  Co. G,  Sergt Towle of Co. H., and Sergt. Gale of Co. K.
Question:  On what day and at what time of the day did you leave New York with your detachment? 
Ans:   I think it was the 26th of July, I think it was a Monday in the afternoon.  I think it was about five o'clock.
Question: Did or did not Sergt. Elbridge G. Towle of Co. H leave New York with the regiment of the detachment? 
Ans:   He did not leave New York with the rest.
Question:   What orders, if any did your detachment have with regard to the time of leaving the boat?
Ans:   I don't know that they had any special orders from me; I think the detachment of the 3rd, 4th and 9th were together at Lovejoy's Hotel, under command of Col. Jackson of the 3rd.  He gave them an order to be ready, or to be at the boat at five o'clock, I think.
Question:  State whether or not you gave permission to any man in your detachment to come in by himself or to go to any other place than Concord.
Ans:  I did not.
Question:  Where did you meet, see or hear from Sergeant Towle after seeing him New York?
Ans:   I next saw him at the Camp for Drafted Men, Concord, N.H. some time in August, I think. I had heard a few days before that he was at Kingston N.H.
Question:  State whether or not he reported to you at any time between your seeing him in New York, and his coming into Camp at Concord.
Ans:  He did not to me.
Question:  State whether or not you had orders to report to Col. Jackson with your detachment, or to consider yourself under his orders during the trip.
Ans: I had no orders to report to him.

Cross Examination by the prisoner
Question:  How did you know that Serg. Towle was at home in Kingston before you saw him at Camp in Concord?
Ans:  I learned from somebody in Camp who belongs to the town who said he saw him.
Question:  Who was the Commander of the detachment that came with you after conscripts?
Ans:  I was Commander of the detachment of the 4th, I suppose.
Question:  Do you know whether Sergt. Towle understood the order of Col. Jackson at New York as to the time the detachment was to be at the boat?
Ans:  I suppose he did.  They were all together.  My impression was that they all understood it.
Question: State how long you've known Sergt. Towle
Ans:  I have known him, I should think a year, or a year and a half; I don't know but longer than that.  I first knew him in the regiment. 
Question:  What was his character and reputation as a soldier while he was in the regiment?
Ans:   He was always considered a very good soldier, I think.
Question:   Have you ever known or heard of anything against him as a soldier?
Ans:  I never had.
Question:   Had you ever known or heard of any domestic trouble which might induce Sergt. Towle to be anxious to return to his family?
Ans: I think I may have heard something of that kind.

By the Court
Question: Did you or not, when you reported to Gen Hinks on arriving in Concord, report that one of your men had deserted in New York?
Ans:  I could not say about that.  I had one to report absent.
Question:  What were the reports referred to about about the family of the accused?
Ans:  I think Lt. Hicks of Co. H told me that Towle's wife was not doing as she ought to do, there was not great said about it.

By the prisoner 
Question: When you found that Sergt. Towle was left at New York have you any suspicion that he had deserted, or did you suppose to believe that he was accidently left behind?
Objected to by by a member of the Court as asking for opinion of the witness.  The court was cleared after deliberation decided that the question might be put and the parties returned to Court.
Ans: I don't know that I hand any suspicion that that he had deserted, I supposed he was left behind.

By the Court
Question:  Did you suppose that he was left behind or did you know that he was left behind?
Ans:  I did not know that he was left behind till I got on board the boat; I supposed that he was while we were going there.
Question:  Was the detachment of which you have command and selected with reference to their previous conduct, or were they selected without thought to their conduct?
Ans:  That is a question that I can't answer.  I do not know what the objective was in selecting them.  It was done by the Colonel.
Question:  Have you ever or not any reason to believe that "choice" men were selected?
Ans:  I suppose it was the Colonel's choice that we should come or he wouldn't have sent us.

By the prisoner
Question:  Did you you or not understand that the Colonel made the selection on the ground of previous meritorious conduct?
Ans:   As far as the enlisted men were concerned I have no doubt that that that was the Colonel's intention.
Question:   What duty if any did you understand that your detachment was to perform at home?
Ans:  I did not understand by the order on which I came on, that there was any duty till the men from the draft were were forwarded to their regiment. 

At this point the Court adjourned to this afternoon at 2 o'clock
James Chase Captain of the 7th N.H.V. Judge Advocate

Rendezvous for Drafted Men,
Concord, N. H. Nov. 6, 1863

Pursuant to adjournment the Court met at 2 P. M.

Sergt. Stephen C. Chapman, Co G., 4th Regt. N. H., a witness for the prosecution, called and sworn.

Questions by the Judge Advocate
Question: What is your name, rank, and Company regiment?
Ans:  Stephen C. Chapman, Sergeant in the 4th regiment, Co. G
Question:  Where were you and on what duty on or about the 26th of July last?
Ans:  In New York on detached service.
Question:  Were you stationed in New York, or were you there on your way to some other point; if so, where were you going, and under whose command?
Ans:  I was under command of Col. Jackson, and was on my way to Concord, N.H.
Question:  State whether Sergt. Elbridge G. Towle was one of the party; if so, when did you last see him in New York?
Ans:  He was one of the party.  I think the last I saw of him was at ten or eleven o'clock in the morning on Monday.
Question:  On what day did your party leave New York?
Ans:   On Monday the 26th, I think.  I'm sure it was Monday.
Question: What order did your party have about the hour of the leaving, and from whom?
Ans:   I could not say certainly with regard to the time.  I think it was either five, or half-past five.
Question:  Where was the order given, and how many of the detachment were present?
Ans:   I think it was given in Lovejoy's Hotel.  I cannot say how many were present, should judge about twelve or fifteen were there might have been more or less.  Some Maine men were present.
Question:  Were orders given about leaving more than once during the day?
Ans:   I could not say.  I think the order was given Sunday night.  I do not recollect any orders on Monday about leaving.
Question:  State, if you know, whether or not Sergeant Towle was present when the order about leaving was given.
Ans:  I could not say whether he was or not.

Cross examined by the prisoner
Question:  State how long you have known Sergeant Towle, and what was his character and reputation as a soldier in the regiment?
Ans:  I don't know that I have any particular acquaintance with him till we came on.  I have known him by sight a year or two.  I have never heard anything detrimental to his character.
Question:  How many men in the detachment of New Hampshire and other regiments were in New York on Sunday when you say Col. Jackson or Capt Burleigh gave the order about leaving?
Ans:  I could not say.  There were some from the 8th and 9th Maine besides those from the 3rd, 4th, and 9th N. H. , about six enlisted men from each regiment besides the officers.
Question:  Do you remember whether there was any more from any detachment left at New York except Sergeant Towle?
Ans:  I think some officers of the Maine regiments were left, their men came on alone in the boat from New York to Stonington.  I remember this from the fact that those men had no transportation and had to pay their own fare.
Question:  You say your detachment was under the command of Col Jackson, if you had happened to have been left at New York or elsewhere should you know where to report to him by letter?
Ans:  I understood that he was to report at Concord to the Adjunct General; I don't know who told me so.
Question:  To whom should you have to reported by letter had you been detained by accident or sickness on your way to Concord?
Ans: I think I should have reported to the Adjunct General.

By the Court
Question: Who had command of your detachment when you left your regiment, and to whom did you look for orders of instruction after leaving your regiment?
Ans:  Capt. Burleigh had command of the detachment of our regiment.  I looked to Capt. Burleigh for orders.
Question:  Did the prisoner appear natural when you last saw in him in New York?
Ans:  I don't know but he did.  I supposed at that time that he had just got up - he came downstairs into the hall.

By the Judge Advocate:
Question:  So do you know whether the Maine officers were left by accident or mistake, or whether they remained in New York intentionally, if so, which was it?
Ans:  I think they were left by mistake because the men told me afterward in Boston that their officers were there.

By the prisoner
Question:  How long after you arrived in Boston did the Maine men tell you their officers were there?
Ans:  I cannot say how long; I do not thing it was over an hour or two hours.
Question:  Did you understand how the officers got there?  If so, state.
Ans: I could not say that I did.

At this point, the Court adjourned to Saturday morning Nov 7th at 11 o'clock.
(signed) Captain J Chase 7th N. H. V. Judge Advocate

Rendezvous for Drafted Men,
Concord, N. H. Nov. 7, 1863

Sergeant H. B. Wheeler, Co. G 13th N. H. Regt. a witness for the prosecution, called and sworn.

Questions by the Judge Advocate
Question:  What is your name, rank, company, and regiment?
Ans: Henry B. Wheeler, 1st Sergt., Co."G" 13th N.H. Regt.
Question: Where were you, and on what duty, in August and September last?
Ans: I was at the Camp for Drafted Men, in Concord.
Question: To what company, if any, were you attached, and in what capacity?
Ans: I was acting acting First Sergeant of the Garrison Company D.
Question: Who composed that company?
Ans: Detachments from several N.H. regiments who came onto assist in taking care of conscripts and substitutes.
Question:  State whether or not at any time while you were acting Sergeant Elbridge G Towle, Co. "H," 4th N.H.V. reported at the camp, and if so, on what date, if you so remember.
Ans:   He reported there the 2nd day of September; a man of that name.  I never saw him before.
Question:  Did he or not go upon duty when he reported?
Ans: He did not. I was ordered by Capt. Clark to report him under arrest.  Capt. Clark was in command of Garrison Co. D.
The prosecution here closed.

William G. Wilson, a witness for the defense, called and sworn.

Questions by the prisoner
Question:  What is your name, where do you reside, and how near the residence of the accused?
Ans:  William G. Wilson.  I reside in Kingston, N.H. just about a mile from the residence of the accused.
Question:  How long have you been acquainted with the accused; and what has been his character and reputation since you have known him?
Ans:  I have been acquainted with him about eighteen years; his character has been good, as far as I know.
Question:  Have you been in the army as a soldier, if so in what Company, and regiment, and how long?
Ans:  I have; I was in Company C, 7th N.H.V. about twenty months.  I was discharged the 5th of last June.
Question:  State whether you saw the accused about the time of his return home in the latter part of July last; if so, how soon after his return?
Ans:  I saw him the last of July at his house; I think it was the same day that he arrived home.
Question:  State whether you at that time had any conversation with him as to how he happened to come home; if so, state that conversation fully.
Ans:  I asked him how he came to come home, if he had a furlough or a discharge.  He said he had neither that he was detailed to come home, but got left at New York.  He said he took the cars and came to Boston and thought he would stop overnight, and then report here at Concord.  He thought he should not come until Monday.  He had the diarrhea pretty bad on him that day, and thought he would come on Monday.
Question:  State whether he told you at that time when he was taken with the diarrhea, if so, what he said.
Ans:   He said he never had been troubled with the the diarrhea till within a day or two, that he never was healthier in his life than while in the service.
Question:  What was the appearance of the accused as to heath and strength at that time?
Ans:  He appeared as though he was pretty well run down; he was thin in the face.
Question:  State what you know of his sickness after that time an particularly whether he was sick abed or not.
Ans:  I did not see him for three or four days; I heard that he was sick, and I called at his house.  He was then lying down in bed.  I asked him how he was feeling and he said he was feeling pretty slim.  He looked to me as though he was pretty sick.  I asked him if had been to Concord, and he said he had written and should come up as soon as he got a little more strength.
Question:  State how frequently you saw the accused afterwards while he was at home; and how he was employed when you saw him.
Ans:  I saw him two or three times a week; not oftener than that.  He did not appear to be doing anything at all.  I never saw him doing any work, or anything of that kind.
Question:  State whether or not he complained of his health when you saw him.
Ans:  He did most everytime that I saw him.
Question:  If you know of his having a sore finger, state what you know about that.
Ans:  I know that he had a very sore finger.  It appeared to be a (unable to read).  I saw him dressing it one day.  I was pretty badly swollen, and discharged considerable matter.
Question:  State if the accused ever stated to you when and for what purpose the understood he should be wanted at Concord.
Ans:  He stated to me that he should be wanted probably as soon as there was a detachment of recruits to be taken to the regiment.
Question:  Did the accused ever express to you any surprise that he had not been notified to go to Concord; if so state what he said.
Ans:  He expressed his surprise once or twice in conversation; said he did not see why he had not received some word.

At this point the Court Adjourned till this afternoon at 2 o'clock
James Chase Captain 7th N.H.V. Judge Advocate

Rendezvous for Drafted Men,
Concord, N. H. Nov. 7, 1863

Direct examination of William G. Wilson resumed
Questions by the prisoner

Question:  State if you learned from the accused whether he understood his detachment had any duty to perform until the drafted men were ready to be taken to the regiment.
Ans:  I understood him that he did not suppose there was any duty to do - that they were to lay around until ready to move.
Question:  Did the accused ever inform you how he liked the service, and speak of his desire to return to it; if so state what he said as fully as you remember.
Ans:  He spoke several times about how well he liked it, and that he should return as soon as he could get an opportunity.
Question:  State whether you rode anywhere with the accused on the 31st of August; if so where?  And if the accused said anything upon his return home about going into the service; state all he said.
Ans:  I rode with him from our place to Kingston Plains to a town meeting.  I rode back with him, he shook hands, bade good bye; said he did not suppose he should see us again as he was going to Concord in a few days, and probably should be soon before Charleston.  He said, "I wish, boys, you were all going with me; we would have some grand good times there."
Question:  Did you at any time hear the accused express any reluctance at rejoining the service; or how otherwise?
Ans:  I never heard him express anything of the kind.  He always spoke in favor of returning to his regiment and liked it well.
Question:  Did the accused explain to you how he happened to be left at New York; if so, state what he said about it.
Ans:  He told me that he was informed by his Commanding officer to report upon the wharf, it strikes me at 7 o'clock.  I am not sure about the exact hour, he came to his quarters at the time he supposed he should have to start forth (to the) wharf, and found that the detachment had gone down to the wharf, and followed down; said that the streamer was running down the harbor when he arrived at the wharf; he found it left one hour sooner than he had supposed it was going out.

Cross Examined by the Judge Advocate
Question:  On what day of the month, and in what month did you first conversation with Sergt. Towle occur?
Ans:  I could not state the precise day of the month; it was the last of July.
Question: Was the Sergeant in bed at at that time?
Ans:  Not the first time I saw him.
Question:  How long afterwards was it that you next saw him?
Ans:  Three of four days.
Question: Was he then in bed?
Ans:  He was in bed then when I went to his house.
Question:  How many days had he then been confined to his bed?
Ans:  I don't know - not more than one or two.
Question:  How long did continued confined to his bed?
Ans:  I don't know - I did not see him for two or three days; he was then standing at his door.
Question:  Was he confined to his bed at the house at any time after that?
Ans:  I don't know as he was.  I only saw him in bed that one time.
Question:  How many times did you see him away from his home before he came to Concord, and how far from home?
Ans:  I only saw him three times from his own house.  The first time I saw him away from his house was at Squire Gideon Webster's store, about one hundred and twenty rods from Towle's house; this was five or six days after I saw him abed.  The next time that I saw him was at James Bartlett's which is a little over a half mile from Towle's house; this was a day or two after the time I saw him at the store; the next time was the 31st of August when we rode down to the Plains to town meeting.  Those are the only times I recollect.
Question:  What was he doing at Bartlett's house?
Ans:  I suppose he was there to see Mr. Bartlett
Question:  Do you know whether he visited, or was otherwise from home, at any other times than those you have mentioned?
Ans: I do not.
Question:  Did Sergt. Towle state on the 31st of August why he intended to come to Concord immediately after?
Ans: He said he had got tired of waiting to hear from Concord, and was going up to see why he had not been notified.

At this point the Court adjourned to Tuesday morning, Nov 10 at 11 o'clock.
J Chase
Captain 7th N.H.V. Judge Advocate

Rendezvous for Drafted Men,
Concord, N. H. Nov. 10, 1863

The Judge Advocate being absent on account of illness the Court adjourned to Nov 11 at 11 A.M.

Rendezvous for Drafted Men,
Concord, N. H. Nov. 11, 1863

The Judge Advocate being absent on account of illness the Court adjourned to Nov 12 at 11 A.M.

Rendezvous for Drafted Men,
Concord, N. H. Nov. 12, 1863

The deposition of Gideon Webster was read by council for the defense.  The deposition is here to appended, Marked A. (not included in record).

Daniel E. Colby, Adjutant General of the State of new Hampshire, a witness for the defense, called and sworn.

Questions by the prisoner
Question:  Please state your name, where you reside, the office you now hold, and in what capacity you were employed, and where, on the 6th of August last.
Ans:  Daniel E Colby. I reside in New London, N.H. The office I now hold is Adjutant General of the State.  On the 6th of August I was Clerk for the Adjutant General.
Question:  State whether or on the 6th day of August last a letter was received at the Adjutant General's office from Sergeant Elbridge G. Towle, of South Kingston, N. H. to which, as Clerk for your father, you replied.  If so, state whether you have the letter of Towle, or the same in your office.
Ans: There was such a letter received from Elbridge G. Towle, but I am unable to say whether or he was a Sergeant or not.  I replied to it.  The letter of Towle is is not to be found.  I have looked for it.
Question:  State if you remember, the contents of Towle's letter.
Ans:  He reported that he was unable to return to his regiment.  I cannot give the reason.
Question:  State whether exhibit A attached to the deposition of Gideon Webster is, or not, the reply you wrote to Mr Towle in the name of the Adjutant General.
Ans: It is. 

The Counsel for the prisoner asked time till tomorrow morning to prepare his written defense, which request was granted, and the Court thereupon adjourned to Friday, Nov. 13th at 11 A.M.
J Chase Captain 7th N.H.V.
Judge Advocate

Rendezvous for Drafted Men,
Concord, N. H. Nov. 13, 1863

The record of yesterday's session was read.
The prisoner's written defense was read by his counsel.  The defense is hereto appended marked B (not included in record).

The case was submitted without remark by the Judge Adcocate.

The Court was cleared for deliberation and after maturely considering the evidence adduced find the accused, Sergeant Elbridge G. Towle, Company H. 4th New Hampshire Volunteers as follows: viz:

At the Specification of the Second Charge: Guilty
At the Second Charge: Guilty
At the Specification of the First Charge: Not Guility
At the First Charge: Not Guilty

And the Court does therefore sentence him, Sergeant Elbridge G. Towle, Company H, Fourth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers,
To be reduced to the ranks and forfeit all pay and allowances during the time of his absence-without-leave.

Hawkes Fearing, Col 8th Regt. N.H.Vol. 
President of the Court

J Chase Captain 7th N.H.V. 
Judge Advocate

Approved.  The pay and allowances to be forfeited will be for one month and six days.

The Court then adjourned to meet again this afternoon at two o'clock.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Civil War Sesquicentennial Blog Challenge: Kellogg and Towle

Today, April 12th, 2011, marks the sesquicentennial anniversary of the start of the Civil War. Having ancestors in New England since 1620, it isn't surprising to find two Union solider grandfathers on my tree.  Though both men served, their experiences and personal outcomes in the war were vastly different.

My great-great grandfather, Luther Alonzo Kellogg was the only child of John Kellogg and Mary Kidder Kellogg.  He was born in Orange, Massachusetts in 1846, which made him all of 17 years old when he enlisted.  Many of Luther's ancestors were American soldiers as well; his line featuring almost continuous military service beginning with King Philip's War.  His half-brother, Charles Kellogg who was 11 years his senior, also enlisted.  I imagine this fact had some bearing on his decision to join.  Both Kellogg brothers served side by side in the 137th Massachusetts Infantry, Co. D.  

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a Civil War narrative written by my grandfather Luther Kellogg.  It was written many years after his service and the purpose of the writing was its inclusion in a genealogy book about his mother's Kidder line.  In Luther's words, his narrative in it's entirety:

Luther A Kellogg, Born Jan 28, 1846. Served as a Union soldier in the 137th Regt NY Volunteers from the 18th day of August 1862 until the close of the war. Was in the battle of Chancellorsville, VA and at Gettysburg, PA., at that time being 17 years old.

Was engaged in the battle of Wauhatchie Valley, Oct 28th and was one of those who charged Lookout Mountain, Nov 24th of the same year under fighting Joe Hooker. The rebels being driven off Lookout Mountain and took refuge on Missionary Ridge another mountain, and the following day, being driven from that stronghold, they retreated to Ringgold, GA where after a fine engagement, they were whipped and scattered in all directions. Started the following spring in May 1864 on what is now known as "Sherman's March to the sea," fighting more or less every day and with the exception of a bullet scratch at Peachtree, GA, escaped unhurt and was discharged at Elmira, NY at the close of the war.

Luther A Kellogg, 1897, Haverhill, MA

What my great-great grandfather fails to mention, and what I discovered when I received his Civil War pension file, was that he spent a fair amount of time in field hospitals.  He was hospitalized for dysentery twice,  one occurrence removed him from service for nearly a year.  He was also hospitalized for diarrhea, scabies, and scurvy.  He suffered two bouts of scurvy, a disorder that historically plagued men at sea without access to fresh fruit and vegetables.  For me, this brings home the horrendous living conditions he and so many soldiers endured during the Civil War.

Luther survived the war and not long after its conclusion, married my great-great grandmother, Mary Potter of Owego, NY.  Luther went on to be a insurance salesmen in Michigan, a printer in New York, and ultimately a foreman in a shoe factory in Haverhill, Massachusetts.   Luther filed a pension claim in 1898 citing his many internal organ disorder issues as cause of his inability to work.  I imagine suffering numerous bouts of dysentery and scurvy took their toll.  He died in 1904 of heart failure at the age of 57 and was buried in Owego, New York.  My great-grandmother Alice Mary Kellogg Pratt is his only child to survive to adulthood and give him grandchildren; my great-uncle Elbridge Gerry Pratt, my great-aunt Mary Pratt (Burke), my grandfather Fred Pratt and my great-uncle Robert Clark Pratt.  Though his line endures though my many, many cousins, his death was the end of our Kellogg surname.

My other Civil War grandfather, Elbridge Gerry Towle, called simply "Gerry" (Gary) by his family, was a 31 year old, married, New Hampshire farmer and father of three children when he enlisted in September of 1861.   Gerry had inherited roughly 100 acres of farmland in Kingston from his father, Ludovicus Towle, three years prior to his enlistment.  When Gerry joined his regiment, the 4th New Hampshire Infantry, Co. H in January, 1862, he left behind a pregnant wife, Hannah Jane Clayton Towle and three young daughters, Mary Loretta Towle age 6; Rose Ann Towle (my great-great grandmother) age 4; and Hannah Jane Towle age 2.  His son, Gerry Elbridge Towle named after him, was born the following September.  I don't know why Gerry chose to enlist, taking such a gamble with a young family at home.

Gerry was sent to Florida, South Carolina, and served during the Cold Harbor and Bermuda Hundred campaigns.  In November of 1862, he was promoted to Sergeant.  He was also sent as part of a special order to NYC in July of 1863 where, "on or about the 26th of July" he deserted.  Details about this event remain sketchy at best as I await his court martial record.  I do know that he was stripped of his rank, returned to service, and rejoined his company.  He suffered an injury to his right wrist during the Battle of the Crater in Petersburg, VA on July 30th, 1964.   At some point, he was placed on a boat outside of City Point, VA where he died on August 9, 1964. 

In her pension petition, his widow, my great x3 grandmother Hannah Clayton Towle claims that he he had been discharged due to injury and died of dysentery en-route home.  His commander claims he died in service onboard a hospital boat; his name continues to appear in red on muster rolls indicating his death in service.  I had hoped that his remains had been sent home to New Hampshire, but as far as I can tell, this wasn't the case.  His widow, Hannah is buried with two of their daughters, Mary and Hannah in Newburyport, Massachusetts.  There isn't a known grave for Gerry Towle.  The Department of Veteran Affairs has no burial information.  No piece of marble memorializing his life and service to the United States exists.

I need to do something about this.   

While visiting his hometown last summer, my cousin Nancy Birdsall, pointed to a list of men from Kingston that served in the Civil War.  This hangs in the hallway of the Town Clerk's office in Kingston, New Hampshire.  And serendipitously, I saw it on the 146th anniversary of The Battle of the Crater; July 30th, 2010.  It is the only official recognition of his service he's received:

(click to enlarge)

Gerry Towle's descendants number in the hundreds now.  They are scattered like wildflowers all over America.  Elbridge Gerry Towle may not have a piece of marble memorializing his life (yet), but his name lives on in generations of his grandchildren:  William Gerry Towle,  Elbridge Gerry Pratt Sr., Elbridge Gerry Pratt Jr, Stephen Gerry Pratt... Yesterday, a newly found distant cousin informed me that she also has a brother named Gerry.  Some were unaware of the original origin of the name.  But now, they know. 

Friday, April 1, 2011

Fred Pratt, son of Walter & Alice, grandson of Fred & Grandfather

I knew I had a photo of my grandfather, Fred Pratt and me.  One.  One photo.  That's all.  Taken years after I'd moved from Maine in the summer of 1977.  And I knew it was around here...somewhere.  Tonight, while looking for another a photo, I found it.  Finally.

Okay, really it's a picture of my grandfather and me, my step-grandmother, Arlene, and my mom.  But if I make it big enough to see clearly, it won't fit on this page.

Laurie Pratt Sisk, Fred W Pratt, Arlene Pratt, Sandra Pratt
August 1977

I had spent a lot of time on that side of the table with my grandpa on weekend afternoons when the grown-ups would play cribbage.  My grandfather had the patience of Job.  And he could multi-task a hand of cards, a cup of coffee, a cigarette, and a granddaughter on his lap making non-stop commentary on pictures she was looking at on a Viewmaster.  And he always behaved as if everything I had to say was totally interesting.

My grandpa was The Bomb, baby.