Civil War

civilwar7The Civil War collection is composed primarily of the records of the 2 GAR chapters and a small amount of ephemera from the wars years themselves.  There is a small photo collection about the 2nd Mass. Vol. Inf.

 In total, Lawrence provided 2497 men for the war; 204 over all demands by the federal government.  There were 93 commissioned officers.  202 servicemen were killed in action or died while under active service.  The city expended $115,630.10 for the war effort.  The Ladies’ Soldiers Aid Society was created April 7, 1862 and met weekly during the war years sewing garments for the soldiers, providing materials to be used for the sick and wounded, and raised more than $7000 to aid the soldiers in the field.  A Sanitary Commission was formed to raise funds to relieve the wants of the soldiers and adding to the comfort of the sick and wounded soldiers in the Union army. 

Lawrence’s first casualty was also among the very first casualties for the Union side.  Sumner Henry Needham fell in Baltimore April 19, 1861.  The city government and many of its citizens attended the funeral of Private Needham at City Hall.  He was interred in he Lawrence Cemetery and commemorated with a granite monument.  Private Needham had been a member of the 6th Massachusetts Infantry Company I.  The City of Lawrence furnished I and F Companies of that regiment.  Company F, the “Warren Light Guard” was created in 1855 and named after Gen. Joseph Warren.  Company I, the “Lawrence Light Infantry,” was organized in 1849.

Lawrence was represented in the Massachusetts 14th Infantry, known as the Essex County Regiment, by companies F and K.  Lawrence raised a total of 15 companies and many Lawrencians served in other regiments and the regular army, participating in all the major actions of the war. 

In 1864 Gen. Andrew asked for 5000 troops to defend the capital.  Cap. Edgar J. Sherman, just returned from the Port Hudson campaign with the 48th Massachusetts, was commissioned to form a company in Lawrence.  These men were called the “Sherman Cadets” and comprised Company K of the Massachusetts 6th regiment.  They protected the capital that summer and then were stationed at Fort Delaware on Pea Patch Island where they took charge of 9000 POWs.  Col. Sherman remained in Lawrence and became a district attorney for Essex County.  The company continued to be part of the state militia as Company M of the 8th regiment.  In 1880 the Sherman Cadets made a grand tour of Washington, Richmond, and Atlanta

After the cessation of hostilities, the veterans returned to civilian life.  December 10, 1867 the first Grand Army of the Republic post was formed.  The GAR Needham Post 39 (named after Sumner Henry Needham) met for many years at Needham Hall, 180 Essex St., on Wednesday evenings.  The activities of the post included fairs and entertainments used as fund raising to aid veterans and their families, upkeep of gravesites, and social events such as the local, state, and national encampments.  Within the post was an organization called the Ladies’ (or Women’s) Relief Corps.  Needham Post 39 hosted the tenth annual Massachusetts encampment January 19, 1876 at Saunders Hall. 232 comrades attended and 32 posts were represented.  A levee followed at City Hall to which the ladies were invited.  The evening culminated with dancing.

Another GAR post was created called the Gen. Lawton Post 146. This second GAR post was named after Henry W. Lawton, a native of Ohio.  Lawton served in the 30th Indiana Volunteers during the Civil War, but attained some degree of notoriety by perishing while directing the attack of his troops upon Gen. Geronimo’s entrenched insurgent forces in Manila, the Philippines, Dec. 19, 1899.  Gen. Lawton also received the Medal of Honor in the Battle for Atlanta, August 3, 1864.  Gen. Lawton Post’s first meeting was April 6, 1904 at Pemberton Hall.  It would later meet at the Mayflower Hall.  Daughter’s of Veterans, Sons of Veterans, and the Women’s Auxiliary were active organizations in Lawrence into the 20th century and were allied with the GAR posts.  All GAR posts were under the aegis of the GAR Department of Massachusetts.

4 Responses

  1. […] years after the end of hostilities, veterans began to form fraternal organizations called Grand Army of the Republic.  This group was organized into encampments or posts in virtually every community in the north and […]

    • I recently purchased a sword. One side of the blade has G.A.R, the other has etched Needham Post 39. The sword was manufactured at the Ames Sword Co., Chicopee Ma. I would love to know the dateit was actually manufactured.

  2. Is there a roster for two GAR posts from Lawrence Ma if there is where
    would I find It Thank you

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