by Alison Arnold
Now that our Civil War blog has been up and running for a month, I think it is time to pause and delve into some details regarding the boys and men from Duxbury who served in the Civil War.
There were 213 men from Duxbury who served in the Civil War. 212 enlisted and one man, George Bryant, had the unfortunate distinction of being the only man drafted to serve. Over the course of the war, the federal government periodically issued calls for troops and Massachusetts would, in turn, assign each town a quota that they had to fill. Gershom Weston, the oldest son of Ezra Weston (“King Caesar”), took it upon himself to lead recruiting efforts to ensure that Duxbury’s number was met. Unfortunately, Duxbury fell one short of the goal and Mr. Bryant was drafted.
Of these men, 41% were shoemakers, which speaks volumes about the economic conditions in Duxbury at the time. Shoemaking was considered a lowly profession and typically one that men would only take up if no other work was available. 14% were farmers. 8% were mariners (this low percentage indicating that the “golden age” of Duxbury’s maritime era had already passed). The rest had jobs that ranged from a peddler to a jewelry maker.
The minimum age for enlistment was 18 years and Duxbury had a lot of boys who enlisted as soon as they turned 18. Herbert Chandler enlisted the day after his 18th birthday in 1861. There seems to be a few boys who, if one does the math, stretched the truth a wee bit. But one, Charles Rogers, must have looked a lot older than he actually was for even though his enlistment records state that he was 18 at his enlistment in 1864, his birthdate was April 6, 1850. All in all, we had one boy who was 14 years old, 3 who were 16 years old and 4 who were 17 years when they enlisted.
Duxbury had a group of men enlist on May 23, 1861 but our records say that they mustered out in August 1861. Exactly what these men were doing during those three months is unclear. Were they a 90 day enlistment? Were the regiments full and they were told to go home and wait? At this point we are not sure but check back here for a future blog entry regarding this mystery.
The dates that had the largest enlistments are May 23, 1861 and September 22, 1862. Again, in future blogs we will take a look at the significance of these dates.