As I’ve researched my family history, certain ancestors linger in my thoughts, somehow lodging themselves into a corner of my heart. My 3rd great-grandfather, Seth Washburn, is one of those ancestors.
Seth Washburn was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts on 16 March 1828, son of EphraimWashburn and Mary Lucas. He married Mary Briggs Bumpus (daughter of Rowland Bumpus and Lucy Nye Pierce of Wareham) and they raised their family of three children (Charles, Edgar, and Mary) in Plymouth. He lived in several locations in Plymouth (including 7 School Street in 1898, 14 School Street in 1903, 6 Emerald Street in 1907), and one of his homes, an adorable half-Cape, is still standing at 199 Jordan Road (was Russell Mills Road).
|199 Jordan Road, Plymouth|
Seth didn’t have much of a formal education as he signed documents with his mark, rather than a signature, and is noted in the census as being unable to read and write. But he must have been a believer in keeping a united union as he first enlisted as a private to serve in the Civil War at the age of 33.
He served in Company E of the 32nd Mass Infantry. Massachusetts Soldiers and Sailors in the Civil War: "Washburn, Seth -- Private -- Res. Plymouth, 33, farmer, enlisted and mustered Dec 2, 1861, re-enlisted Jan 1 1864; transferred March 1 1864 to 5th Batty. Mass. Lt. Arty. See 5th Batty. Mass. Lt Arty."
Seth’s Company organized at the garrison at Fort Warren in Boston Harbor in December 1861. Some of the action Seth saw with his regiment:
Six weeks at Harrison's Landing where there was an outbreak of malaria. Proceeded via Yorktown, Aquia Creek and Stafford Court House to Barnett's Ford on the Rappahannock. Retired to Miner’s Hill on outskirts of Washington. Participated in the Maryland campaign of September 1862 and went into winter quarters at Stoneman's Switch near Potomac Creek. On Dec. 13, 1862, it participated in the assaults on Marye's Heights at Fredericksburg, losing 35 officers and men, of whom 6 were killed or mortally wounded.
At Chancellorsille in early May 1863, the 32d was present but little engaged. At Gettysburg, July 2, 1863, the regiment was heavily engaged in the Devil's Den region. Here out of 227 men taken into action, the 32d lost 81, of whom 22 were killed or mortally wounded. The regiment was engaged in the autumn campaign in the region of the Rappahannock. After the Mine Run campaign the regiment went into winter quarters at the hamlet of Liberty near Bealton. Here during the early part of the winter most of the members re-enlisted and were sent to Mass. on veteran furlough Jan 17 to Feb. 17.
With the opening of the spring campaign of 1864, the 5th Corps under Gen. Warren opened the battle of the Wilderness on the Orange pike, May 5, suffering slight loss. Moving to Spottsylvania, the regiment was heavily engaged near Laurel Hill on May 12, losing 103 men including five color bearers, 46 being killed or mortally wounded. It was present at North Anna River, May 23, at Shady Grove Road, May 30, and at Bethesda Church near Cold Harbor, June 3, losing in the last two engagements 52 men of whom 23 were killed or mortally wounded. Before Petersburg it was in the assault of June 18, meeting with severe loss including Colonel Prescott, mortally wounded. At Jerusalem Road, June 22, Weldon R.R., Aug. 21 and Poplar Spring Church, Sept 30, it was engaged with loss. The winter was spent in the trenches before Petersburg. On Feb. 5 it was engaged with loss at Hatcher's Run, on March 31 at Dinwiddie Court House and on April 1 at Five Forks. It was among the troops that overtook Lee at Appomattox and was one of the regiments detailed to accept the arms and colors at the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia, April 9, 1865. Transferred to Washington, it was mustered out June 28, the men receiving their final discharges and payment at Galloup's Island, Boston Harbor, July 11.
At other times in his life, Seth worked as a seaman (1850 census), an iron worker (1856 marriage certificate) a laborer (1860, 1880, 1910 census; 1903 town directory), a farm laborer (1870 census), and a farmer (1912). His obituary says he worked for some years for the Plymouth Street Department.
Seth actively sought an invalid pension for health issues he said were connected to his Civil War service. I have his file from the National Archives.
The papers state Seth Washburn was honorably discharged at Liberty, Virginia on 4 Jan 1864. He was unable to earn support by reason of chronic diarrhea, rheumatism (from the cold during the war), trouble in the throat and stomach, and heart trouble. He stated that while serving in the army a shell fell upon his foot which has been sore somewhat ever since. He is listed as five feet seven inches, 170 pounds, light complexion, sandy hair, with blue eyes. He was approved to receive an additional $8 a month as an invalid pension effective 21 July 1890 after being examined by three doctors.
He applied for an increase in his pension 9 May 1904, which was approved and increased to $12 a month commencing 1 May 1904 because of his total inability to earn support by manual labor. I find it amusing that any 76 year old man would be expected to earn support by manual labor!
In another declaration for pension dated 25 May 1912 (he’s now 84), Seth was approved to receive a pension of $30 a month. After his death, his daughter, through a lawyer, requested funds to pay for his funeral expenses as he died without assets or means to pay for his burial.
Seth died in Plymouth on 12 March 1921, at age 92. The cause of death is endocarditis, which is an inflammation of the membrane lining of the heart. I am indebted to cousin Jane Weston who shared what she knew about Seth’s family, including the location of his burial, the Russell Mills Road Cemetery (now Jordan Road), directly across from his home. It’s a very small cemetery, next to what used to be a Salvation Army Chapel. Unfortunately no stone existed for Seth or his wife Mary, but Town of Plymouth cemetery records showed his burial location. Since he was a veteran, I was able to order a stone for him through the Government and the town installed it in 2002, all free of charge. I was thrilled to be able to do this!
|Seth's new stone at Russell Mill's Cemetery, Jordan Rd., Plymouth|
His obituary from the March 18, 1921 Plymouth Old Colony Memorial: "Seth Washburn, Plymouth's Oldest male resident, died on Saturday last in his home on the Jordan Road near Russell Mills village. Had he lived until Wednesday last he would have been 93 years of age. He was a native of this town and worked until age forced him to retire from active life a short time since, as a laborer, being for many years one of the employees of the Plymouth Street Department. He was one of the few Civil War Veterans remaining in town and one of the fast dwindling group of comrades of Collingwood Post, No. 76, G.A.R. He enlisted at the age of 32 for three years' service, Dec. 2, 1861, under Lieut. Josiah C. Fuller, in a company the latter was then recruiting, and which was attached to the First Battalion of Massachusetts Volunteers, which later was recognized as the 32d Massachusetts regiment of infantry. His company in this command was Co. E. The first duty was in Fort Warren, Boston harbor, but on May 20, 1862 it left for Washington and served in the Peninsula, was at Fredericksburg and Antietam, and was in the Richmond campaign. Mr. Washburn was discharged after three years of service, Jan. 5, 1884, re-enlisting and being mustered in the next day and transferred March 1, 1864, to the 5th battery, light artillery, from which he was discharged June 12, 1865, at the expiration of service at the close of the war. He was a vigorous man in spite of his age, and seldom missed marching in the Memorial Day parade. Not many years ago he used to walk in town from his home fully five miles, participate in the exercises of the day and then walk home again and it was only in the latest years that he had not footed in the march to the cemeteries, and yielded to persuasions to ride in the coaches provided for the veterans. Funeral services were held on Monday afternoon at 3 o'clock in the Russell Mills chapel. Capt. Bright of the local Salvation Army post officiating and selections were sung by Misses Vivian Gates and Ruth Davis. The burial service of the Grand Army was also rendered. Interment was made in the cemetery adjoining the chapel, the bearers being Henry Morrison, Harry Bates, Winslow Rickard, Vernon West and William F. Shaw of Collingwood Capt. No. 4, S. of V. Mr. Washburn is survived by two sons, a daughter, two grandsons and two granddaughters and several great grandchildren."