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Franklin's Civil War Page

MA Regiments 38-56

38th Massachusetts

Regimental history link

Company C

John M. Fisher

In 1861 the south seceded from the United States, formed the Confederacy, and started the Civil War. This war lasted until 1865, and brought about many battles and soldiers. Among these soldiers was John Murray Fisher of Franklin, Massachusetts. John enlisted into the Union army under the 38th regiment in company C. John was born on February 12, 1843. His father was Weston Fisher, his mother Marget. His father was a farmer born in Wrentham, Massachusetts. Marget was born in Waldoboro, Maine. John Fisher was never married. The 38th regiment for Massachusetts started August 24, 1862. A few days later they moved to Baltimore, Maryland and joined the defenses of Maryland. They left Baltimore September 8, 1862. They headed to Powhattan Dam after, and stayed there until October 12. After that they rode the Baltic steamboat for Ship Island, Mississippi on November 10th and arrived there December 14. They then moved to New Orleans and stayed there until February 11, 1863. March 6th they moved to Baton Rouge. On April 12 and 13th they fought at Fort Bisland in West Louisiana. This battle included around 684 casualties and a Union victory. Then May 22-25 brought about a battle at Port Hudson in east Baton Rouge. This battle included a long siege and an eventual Union victory that opened up the Mississippi River for traveling. There were also about 12,208 total casualties. After much traveling, April 23, 1864 brought about a fight at Monett’s Ferry. This fight was a Union victory with 600 casualties, but the Confederates had a chance to capture one army of the Union, and missed it. September 19 was the Battle of Opequan in Winchester. The battle of Opequan was considered a very important battle, which included the deaths of many generals for the Confederate and Union army. The Union won with a total of 8,630 casualties during the fight. Shortly after, on October 19 was the Battle of Cedar Creek. This was a key win for the Union in Shenandoah Valley, with the Confederates surprising them but counter-attacking to a victory. After that this regiment fought no more major battles and disbanded July 13, 1865. This regiment followed Generals Philip Sheridan and Nathaniel P. Banks. As for John Fisher, the war did not end well for him. He did not complete the war with his regiment, as he was M.I.A., he died in battle. He died at the Battle of Opequan in Winchester, West Virginia. Unfortunately, he departed this life at the young age of 21. He was buried on the battlefield. Since he passed away at such a young age and was in war for a long part of his life, John Fisher never married and probably had no job other than helping his father on the farm. John Murray Fisher valiantly died in battle, which is considered the best death in some cultures, but did not die in vain. He and his regiment were involved in many important battles and helped lead the Union to victory. Without efforts and sacrifices such as Fisher’s, the United States might still be two separate countries today or still have slavery.

George Patrick Cody served in the Massachusetts 38th Infantry from app. 1862 until the end of the war. He was discharged as a Corporal. George remained in Franklin/Wrentham until about 1874 when he moved to Dedham. He died in Dedham in 1916. George was born in Whitechurch, County Cork Ireland, came to the US in 1850 and had 13 children from two marriages. George had contracted malaria while serving in Louisiana at the seige of Port Hudson. He was a teamster in the Union Army. He injured himself with a mis-fired musket celebrating the 4th of July in 1870. George suffered greatly from his injuries and recurring bouts of the malaria- he was able to work, however, as a night watchman. ~Information submitted by Lorie (Cody) Wies

40th Massachusetts

Company H

Caleb Ballou

Caleb Ballou


When the men of Massachusetts left eagerly for war, they did not realize that they had the possibility of not returning to their families and their life back in their hometown. Caleb W. Ballou was born in Wrentham Massachusetts, he was the son of Sally and Caleb W. He was a family man with four brothers and a veteran father, Ballou would spend his days in Franklin Massachusetts, as a farmer working alongside his family, they lived in a simple two-bedroom house on Pond Street in that small town. He married on August 5, 1856, at the age of 27 to Bridget McGee from Ireland; he would bare no children

 The year was 1861 and the nation’s new conflict arose between the United States of America (the Union) and the Confederate States of America (the Confederacy). By 1861, just before the outbreak of the Civil War in the United States, serious economic differences among them was over states’ rights and slavery this divided the people of the young nation. These differences also divided the country geographically. Nineteen states prohibited slaves as fifteen southern states permitted ownership of slaves; this is what formed the Union vs. Confederates.

The civil war was known as the war between states, and Ballou was fighting for the Union under the leadership of Ulysses S. Grant and Sherman. He fought with company H, regiment 40 in Massachusetts, which was titled as the mounted infantry where most “ common” uneducated but working class would serve under.  The infantry was the combat arm of the army that was made up of units trained to fight on foot. They were to close in on their kill or capture their enemy, by use of many men on foot with light but deadly weapons.  Ulysses S. Grant was a man who used strategies and unexpected tactics to be victorious. Grant’s main objective was to cut off the Confederacy’s supply base, which would force them not to move into Richmond, Virginia. William Sherman, was the type of leader who used planned attacks, with depicting the enemies’ tracks by use of maps, and directional tools, this in fact led him to many successful strikes, that later made him become a commander of the armies in the West. Caleb W. Ballou fought in the battles between the 15-18th of June; the men in the 40th regiment encountered long days and several engagements along rebel camps. During the regiment’s service in the Civil War they lost 5 officers, 67 enlisted men were killed or wounded as 125 were struck by disease.

            Caleb’s family had traveled along to battle with him, having four brothers in the     

   service and a father Caleb W. Ballou Sir, being a veteran in favor of the Union. His 

   brother Perry A., a private in the service fought along with him in the 40th mounted

   Infantry regiment but was soon captured in Drurys Bluff, Virginia on May 16 1864

   while proceeding to upper Virginia. He was sent to Andersonville Prison and

   survived. His other brother Owin, Adin, and William also fought, and contributed in

   the Civil War.

            The mounted infantry was organized in Lynnfield in August of 1862, then moved to Washington, DC on September 8, and joined forces with the 2nd Brigade to the Abercombie’s division. The men supporting the Union dominated their first major

victory “Siege of Suffolk”. The regiment’s main service was towards the duty in the

defense of Washington DC, the nation’s capital. “ It seems that they ordered us to march to far into the states and we came upon thousands of our enemies and a terrible battle ensued… Yesterday was one of the most anxious days of my whole life,” is stated in the letters sent home from the men of the 40th Massachusetts Infantry. The 40th infantry fought in such battles as Morris Island (August 7-14), against Fort Wagner and Gregg, Swift Creek on Arrowfield Church (May 9-10), the battle of Drewry’s Bluff (May 14-16), Cold Harbor (June 1-12), where they had planned siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond. Cold Harbor was one of the major, and bloodiest battles the regiment fought in during the Civil War, the battle was fought in Virginia. It happened when the Union army of the Potomac, which numbered about 110,000 men under General Ulysses S. Grant, attacked the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia, about 60,000 men under General Robert E. Lee.

            Towards the end of Caleb’s service he was wounded in battle, that caused him to live with a permanent disability. Caleb W. Ballou’s is now buried in the Davis Thayer Cemetery in his childhood hometown of Franklin.


Company B (cont)

John D Wales

One of many unsung heroes in the American Civil War was Massachusetts native John D. Wales, born on February 28, 1834. During the war John was involved in a part of what the Union called the Anaconda Plan. John participated in the divide and conquer part of the Anaconda Plan. John D. Wales was part of the 42nd regiment; company B out of the state of Massachusetts. John D. Wales spent most of his time down south and on the Mississippi River. John D. Wales and the 42nd Massachusetts fought many long tiring battles along the Mississippi River. John D. Wales also had a large family and two other brothers that served in the Union Army too. Throughout the Civil War John D. Wales and his two brothers contributed immensely to the Union Army.

            John D. Wales had a large family and some of them also contributed to the war fighting for the Union. John was born into the Wales family by his two parents Otis and Jeusha Wales. John was part of a family of six kids. John Wales was the third of six. The other kids in the family were Owen, Mary, Abigail, Jonathan, and Julie Ann. John was not the only one in his family who served for the Union. His two brothers, Owen and Jonathan served with him. Before the War John married on February 14th, 1856 to Adelaide B. Whitting, she was twenty years old. During this time John was a carpenter in his home town. That was the personal life of John D. Wales before he volunteered to serve his country.

John D. Wales served a long and honorable military career for the Union Army throughout the civil war. During the Civil War John fought in the western theater down south. He was first organized at Reedville on July 22, 1862; he was called in as a private and asked to serve a one year term. John Wales was deployed down south to Bayou twelve miles northeast of New Orleans, right next to Lake Ponchartrain. Wales was under command of Lieutenant Colonel Stedman while in the New Orleans area. After running guard duty near New Orleans Wales and some of the 42nd Massachusetts were moved to Port Hudson. After winning at New Orleans the Union had one more city to defeat before taking complete control of the Mississippi River and it was Port Hudson. At Port Hudson John Wales was involved with the siege of Port Hudson. The siege of Port Hudson took place on May 23, 1863. Wales was under command of Major General Nathaniel P. Banks along with 30,000 other Union troops. This was the first use of siege warfare the Union has ever used and they did it very effectively. Siege warfare is when the Union just continually bombarded Port Hudson with artillery non-stop. The siege went on for 48 days and worked very successfully. John Wales and the other 30,000 men at Hudson forced the Confederacy to surrender Port Hudson. When John Wales and others took the city, it was the completion of the divide and conquer part of the Anaconda Plan. This was extremely significant to the Union because it took a lot of the heart out of the Confederacy and proved to the Union that the Anaconda Plan is working and it is all coming together. After the battle of Port Hudson, John D. Wales and others were mustered out on August 20, 1863. That concludes the very notable military service records of John D. Wales.

Before and during the war John D. Wales was a very productive individual. Before the Civil War John helped support a family and then went off to fight for what he believed was right, which was a united country. John Wales, a married man with a steady job volunteers for the army and fights in the western theater, this is the kind of man that should be honored and praised. John Wales risked everything for the good of his country and did so with a lot of pride.   




Company B (cont)

Lewis Wales

Lewis E. Wales, a man who, after death, was buried in this very town. Born in 1844 to Otis and Jerusha Wales, Lewis lived his childhood in the town of Franklin. Growing up with four brothers and sisters, Lewis learned a great deal about responsibility. Working in the fields and doing much physical labor taught him the value of hard work. With his acquired knowledge of hard work and responsibility, Lewis enlisted into the army upon the announcement of the Civil War. Lewis was put under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Stedman. He served as a private for the Massachusetts infantry in Company B of the Forty-second regiment. Lewis was enlisted for nine months, in which time traveled all the way to New Orleans, Louisiana. His regiment made the extensive trip in a matter eighteen days. Along the way they stopped at Hilton Head, South Carolina. They also stopped at Tortugas, Florida and Ship Island, Mississippi. Finally, Company B of the Forty-second regiment of the Massachusetts Infantry reached New Orleans, Louisiana on December twenty-ninth of the year eighteen-sixty-two. Although Lewis’s company was never deployed from its post at New Orleans, they still served a profound purpose. Company B served as protection of the Anaconda plan. Since they were located in New Orleans they were right at sea-side, which allowed them to prevent any confederates from escaping and ruining the Anaconda plan. Company B also served as a capable back-up unit in case Ulysses S. Grant depleted his troops carrying out his “doing the math” strategy. Unfortunately, Lewis did not get to fight any significant battles and did not get to witness the end of the war. Sadly, as forty-three others in the regiment had done, Lewis E. Wales had his life taken by disease. Let him not be forgotten, for no matter how small a part he played, without Lewis E. Wales who knows what would have happened.

56th Massachusetts

James E. Snow

On the twenty-sixth of December, 1863, in Readville, Massachusetts, the fifty-sixth regiment of the Massachusetts infantry became accessible to any volunteers wishing to participate in the American Civil War for the Union army.  This regiment gained participants to venture into battle up until the date of February 24, 1864, in which the regiment left the state for Annapolis, Maryland as part of the Union army.  This regiment contained numerous soldiers including private James E. Snow.  Though private James E. Snow did not make a stand in any of the current history books that are being studied throughout schools, he and many other individuals of the war played just as an important role as any of the generals or commanders of the armies.  Ulysses S. Grant of the Union army and Robert E. Lee of the Confederate army, who were two extremely notable Civil War figures may have been the brains and bronze behind the operations performed during the war, yet without the lower ranked soldiers to carry out these orders to perfection while risking their lives these two generals would have not made the history books either

            James E. Snow was born on an unknown date in the year 1834, in Wrentham, Massachusetts, which today is currently a part of the town of Franklin.  Wrentham,

Massachusetts was part of the Norfolk County and the Snow family reported to the Sheldonville post office to receive their information on the country as well as their bills and other private information.  James was the son of John H. Snow and Mary Snow.  When he was born he had one living grandparent in Ann Snow who was John H. Snow’s mother, as well as an older brother named Horatio.  Horatio was older than James by only two years, and six years later, Mary Snow would give birth to James’ younger brother Benjamin.  James was twenty-nine years old when he made his decision to join the Union army as part of the fifty-sixth regiment, and he managed to leave this regiment alive at the end of the war.

            The fifty-sixth regiment’s campaign started on March 21, 1864, in which they traveled to Maryland and approached the country’s capital of Washington D.C.  They were part of the first brigade, of the first division, of the ninth army corps of the army of the Potomac.  They remained at this position until September of 1864 in which the transferred to the second brigade, of the second division, of the ninth army corps, of the Potomac.  Their first action was seen on May 5 in Spottsylvania County.  It is now known that they were participating in a battle that would be known as the Wilderness, yet is also referred top as Combats at Parker’s Store, Craig’s Meeting House, Todd’s Tavern, Brock Road, and the Furnaces.  Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant and Major General George G. Meade led the charge of the Union army.  As they struggled against General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate army, only to lose 18,400 soldiers and call the battle a draw.  They continued to fight in the Spottsylvania County region, with the battle of the Spottsylvania Court House only one week later.  Following that skirmish they stumbled into Caroline and Hanover Counties to fight the battle of the North Anna River in the northern section of Virginia.  Though there were 18,000 fewer casualties than the previous battles the results at the end of the day were still inconclusive on which side had won and which side had lost.  The small battle of Totopotomoy followed, yet after that the battles of Cold Harbor and Petersburg claimed an abundant amount of lives.  During these battles the Union army including the fifty-sixth regiment gained a vast majority of landed and drove back the Confederate army, but this continuous flow of soldiers directly into the Confederate army would not only cost the Union army many lives, but also two Confederate victories.  James E. Snow and the fifty-sixth regiment would not be denied a Union victory though as they were withdrawn from the Petersburg battles to participate in the Globe Tavern battle, in which the Union troops were able to drive back the Confederate army and gained full control of the Weldon railroad.  Like many other privates Snow saw action in destroying the right flank of the Confederate army and giving them an appropriate reason to retreat.  General G.K. Warren conducted the soldiers in this battle, yet this extended the campaign of U.S. Grant and gave the Union army a forceful momentum boost.  Peeble’s Farm resulted in another Union victory before they were shut down at Boydton Plank Road on October twenty-seventh and twenty-eighth, under the command of General Winfield Scott Hancock.  Finally, the Union army regained control with a Union victory at Fort Stedman in which Snow and the other soldiers in his regiments were placed under the command of General John G. Parke.  During this battle Lee’s Confederate troops made an attempt to penetrate Petersburg, yet instead they encountered a large amount of Union troops, like James E. Snow that were ready and willing to open fire.  In the final battle at Petersburg the Union troops held their ground and James E. Snow was a successful member in containing the

northern border in the Anaconda plan, which eventually trapped and crushed the Confederates and their citizens from all geographical aspects of where they were located. 

            The soldiers lived and fought throughout the course of the Civil War serving their countries as their duty, yet they should be considered hero’s due to what they experienced.  Not only did they witness the power of death, nut the suffering of living during the time of war.  Civil War soldiers did not have good transportation, even if they had any transportation at all, and they marched for several hours at a time on foot, in which some men were not equipped with shoes.  When a soldier finally was able to rest they were not fed sufficient amounts of food and a lot of times the supplies that were needed to keep the soldiers healthy were scarce.  Also, if the bullets or bayonets in battle did not kill them, diseases from unsanitary sewage water did.  Conditions were made even worse by bad weather or the ultimate fear of becoming a prisoner, which is how many soldiers depart from earth.  The fifty-sixth regiment lost six officers, with 120 men killed or mortally wounded, and another 100 men dying from these conditions and diseases, for a total of 226 men lost at war.  James E. Snow was not one of these men who died, and he was also not one of the men that a recorded in history books presently, yet it is justified to say that what he did for his country by protecting and preserving the Union while risking his life is clearly enough for him to be recognized and viewed as a true American hero.        



Updated: Apr 15, 2009  

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