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Company B, Unattached Cavalry (known As Butler's
James G. Nichols Thomas P. Vanbenthuysen
Thomas Ellis Sanford Weston
During the war Middleboro furnished about four hundred and sixty-five men, thirteen of whom were commissioned officers, and had a surplus of twenty-one after filling its quota upon every call made by the President. The town expended, exclusive of state aid, $31,915.57. S6633 was also raised by private subscription, $7821 was raised by a club, and $5000 by persons liable to draft to procure substitutes, making the total amount raised by and in the town, $51,326.90. Of this amount there was repaid by the commonwealth for state aid which had been purchased, $36,962.40.
Great sacrifices for the defence of the Union were made by the men of Middleboro, and in no instance was there ever reported any lack of bravery or want of discretion on the part of the officers or privates who went out from
our town. Not a few of' soldiers' Monument
the inhabitants enlisted in companies in other parts of the state.
This monument, erected by the citizens of Middleboro to perpetuate the memory of her soldiers who fell in the War of the Rebellion, stands on the lawn in front of the town house. It is built of selected Quincy granite, nine feet at the base, rising to the height of forty feet and eleven inches. Action was first taken towards its erection by the E. W. Peirce Post 8 of the Grand Army of the Republic, and those who served in the quota raised by the town. It was completed at a cost of about five thousand dollars, and dedicated May 30, 1896, with appropriate exercises and an address by Ex-Governor John D. Long. The monument is a beautiful structure, and will stand for all time to perpetuate the lives, the valor, and the sacrifices of Middleboro men in the War of the Rebellion.1
1 The town first acted upon matters relating to the war on the 6th of May, 1861, when it was voted to raise a company for three years, and to guarantee each man $26 a month while in service. At the same meeting it was voted to raise S5000 for war purposes, $2000 of which was to be expended in uniforming and equipping the company, and each recruit was to be paid $1.25 a day while drilling, not to exceed three days in a week for four weeks, and when the company was called into service, each volunteer was to receive a month's pay in advance. July 28, 1862, it was voted to pay a bounty of $125 to each volunteer to the number of 56 who should enlist for three years, to be credited to the quota of the town within twenty days.
The 25th of August it was voted to raise a company for nine months' service, and to pay each volunteer for that term a bounty of $150, when mustered in and credited to the quota of the town.
The 21 st of September, 1863, the town voted that the selectmen should continue the payment of said aid to the families of soldiers who had been discharged for wounds or sickness the same as they had before received, this to be continued for six months, and to borrow money to pay the same.
ILITARY affairs of the towns in the old colony form a very important place in their history. Next to the church and the town meeting, more interest seems to have centred about the militia than any of the organizations of the times. Few persons qualified to serve presumed to neglect that duty, and the most important men were selected to fill the various offices. In the early history of these towns they occupied so important a position in the defence against the attacks from the Indians, and were so efficient an arm of the government in resisting the encroachment of the French against the English sovereignty in the New World, and later performed such heroic service in establishing the liberties of the country, that their power and influence were always felt in all public affairs.
The first account of a military drill was during the struggle of that small but brave band to maintain life on the barren lands of Plymouth. Early in 1622 rumors reached the pilgrims of hostile bands of Indians, and Canonicus, king of the Narragansetts, sent to Tisquantum, the pilgrims' interpreter, some new arrows tied with a rattlesnake's skin. Bradford, filling the skin with powder and bullets, sent it back, but as the messengers feared to carry it, it was passed along from one to another, finally returning to Bradford, having served its purpose of quelling Canonicus's revolt. Immediately, however, they began to fortify the little village, and Standish formed four companies of all those able to bear arms. The captain of each company in turn was to hold the command in his absence. His military skill was such that he realized fully the value of drill and training, and the men received special instruction in the tactics of the soldiers of the Old World, with which he was familiar. The early record is that each company took its place for the defence with a discharge of musketry, then accompanied the captains to their houses, where " again they graced them with their shot and so departed." In a note to Young's "Chronicles of the Pilgrims," we find this was the first general muster in New England, and the embryo of our present militia system. Bradford says :1 —
"They agreed to inclose their dwelling with a good strong pale, and make flankers in convenient places, with gates to shute, which were every night locked, and a watch kept, and when .neede required ther was also warding in yc day time. And ye company was by ye Captain and ye Gov1 advise, devided into 4 squadrons and every one had ther quarter apoynted unto them which they were to repaire upon any suddane alarme. And if ther should be any crie of fire a company were appointed for a gard, with muskets, whilst others quenchet ye same, to prevent Indian treachery. This was accomplished very cheerfully and r towne impayled round by ye beginning of March."
This little battalion of fifty strong was a garrison sufficient to defend the town, and with Standish's discipline and military tactics may well be called the first volunteer militia.
By the old militia laws the men were required to give six days'2 duty each year. The companies chose their own captains. After the union of the two colonies the militia of each county was commanded by a lieutenant, and under him was a sergeant-major.3
In the Plymouth Laws of 1683 4 we find :—
"This Court doth order that Swansey and Middlebery shall chose some for Officers To lead theire Milletary Companies and Instruct them in Marshall disiplyne and that orders to each of those Townes to send such to the Court as they shall see Cause to choose."
1 History of the Plimoth Plantation, p. 134.
2 Plymouth Colony Laws, p. 36: " That the Inhabits of euery Towne within the Gouerment fitt & able to beare arrnes be trayned (at least) six tymes in the year." September 1, 1640.
3 Palfrey's History of Neto England, vol. ii, p. 51.
4 Plymouth Colony Laws p. 201.
The first organized regiment of Plymouth Colony militia was commanded by Major William Bradford of Plymouth. At this time there were not men enough in Middleboro capable of bearing arms to form a full company, only sufficient for an ensign's command, and Isaac Howland was then in charge, holding such commission from the governor at Plymouth.
One third of the company was required to be armed with pikes and the remainder with matchlock muskets, called snaphances. The pike had been substituted for the halberd, which at first was brought from England, it being found that the pike was as efficient a weapon and much less difficult to manufacture. In the matchlock musket the powder was placed in a pan similar to that in the flintlock, but exploded by a coal of fire or by a lighted string; the end of this string was placed in the powder by hand, or by a simple device behind the pan. The muskets used in hunting were fired by sparks communicated to the powder from a flint; they were not allowed in military drills, and were not used in war until after King Philip's time. The Indians would use no other, and they became very proficient in aiming and firing, which accounts for the large number of whites killed in King Philip's War. So cumbrous were the match and flintlock muskets of those times that they required as a support, when used, a forked stick about five feet in length, with an iron point at the other end, which was placed in the ground.
For fifty-eight years after the incorporation of Middleboro, there was but one company. In 1727 the population had so increased that this was divided into two, known as the First and Second Foot Companies. The town was divided into two precincts, and this division formed the basis for the companies. The increase in number of inhabitants caused another division to be made soon after, and again in 1754.
While Massachusetts remained a colony of England, all commissions in the militia expired at the death of the reigning sovereign, and were renewed on the accession to the throne of the next monarch.
Governor Hinckley,- in 1689, said that besides the commis