Submitted by Terry Middleton, President, 20th Maine Co.,
American Civil War Re-enactors.
The American Civil War took place from 1861 to 1865, prior to Confederation, and in part was the cause and need for Confederation. It was a violent and deadly time that, although no one is proud of, our American neighbors are still very proud of the men and women who took part and in many cases sacrificed everything for their cause. As Canadians, we also have the right to be proud of the men and women of British North America who took part in that terrible war. There are estimates of upwards of 50,000 citizens of this country who enlisted in the ranks of both the Union and Confederate Armies. Most would have served the North, while there were some who signed up to fight for the South. Many reasons can be given for a “Canadian” to take up the fight. At that time, borders were mainly an idea, and many would have been in the US working. Others, working here on farms, or toiling at mills, warehouses, or docks, looked at the war as a chance for adventure, or even money as there were bounties paid for enlistees.
Still others believed in the cause, no matter what they thought that cause was, and felt it their duty to help their neighbors.
We were still under British rule at that time, and because Britain took a neutral stance on the war, it was against the law for its citizens to take part. We know however that many took the chance of being jailed to do their duty. Many who enlisted, did so under assumed names, and gave US towns as their hometown, so as not to arise suspicion and face arrest back home. The men who did this, will for the most part, remain unknown to the rest of us, but the thousands who enlisted under their own names are waiting for us to learn of them and recognize them. There are a few dedicated people who have been doing this and to date there are a few thousand names documented as having served during the Civil War.
I am a member of 20th Maine, Co. I, American Civil War Re-enactors, and we are based in Atlantic Canada. Some of our members have been reliving history for over 10 years. We do this because we are interested in this time period. Like our American brothers, we are not honoring war, but the men and women who lived and died during that terrible time. It is also our agenda to educate the public about their ancestors’ involvement, and for those who are aware, to show them that they are not forgotten.
Two years ago, one of our members suggested that we honor a veteran of the Civil War, that is buried in the St. Stephen Rural Cemetery, with a graveside service. This idea was explored and in the fall of 2001, our unit took part in a ceremony at the gravesite of General John Curtis Caldwell. We learned that there were 5 other veterans buried here as well and each grave was visited in turn.
The wheels started turning and the idea expanded that there must be many, many veterans of the war buried here in Atlantic Canada. We made it our project to locate as many of these veterans that we could. We enlisted the aide of Ruby Cusacks weekly column and put a call out to the public for the location any and all burial sites that they knew of. It was with great pleasure that I began receiving calls and emails with information of the callers ancestors resting place, or the caller just happened to see a gravestone somewhere that indicated the person served in the Civil War. Reading a local authors' publication, “In Armageddon’s Shadow”, a story on the Maritimes involvement in the Civil War, also revealed several possible locations of veterans. Still further and very extensive research by Daniel F. Johnson, Certified Genealogist, gave more names and added to our list that to date numbers approximately 60 Veterans of the American Civil War who are buried in Atlantic Canada, that we know of.
We feel that it is our duty to do what we can to locate all of these veterans, and continue to search for those yet to be found, and to honor each and every one of them with a 19th Century, graveside service befitting a veteran of the Civil War. We reach out to you to help us in our task to honor these heroes, and ask that you contact me with any information that you may have. Other Civil War organizations in other parts of Canada are involved in a similar project. We will eventually have these names listed together in some educational facility or museum, and also forward them to the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, a US National organization who has taken on the daunting task of listing the burial sites of all veterans of the Civil War.
In August, 2002, our unit performed services for 4 veterans. Our day began in Woodstock where we honored Pvt. John Powers, Co. D, 7th Maine Infantry, who died July 29,1909. He is buried at St. Gertrudes Calvary Cemetery. We then moved on to Florenceville, to the Baptist Cemetery on Main St. where many descendants of Pvt James Dean Burnham were in attendance. Pvt. Burnham had been a member of Co. I, 15th Maine Infantry, and served from Dec. 31, 1861 to Jan. 19,1865. He died in Florenceville on Sept 19,1900. Our next stop was at Clearview, St. Bartholomew's Church, where Pvt Cain Mahany of Co E, 31st Maine Infantry is buried, having past on Dec. 10,1888.
Our final stop for the day took us to Perth’s Larlee Creek Cemetery, to honor Pvt John Tuthill, of Co. B, 24th Michigan Infantry. Pvt. Tuthill had died in 1911, and members of the local Historical and Genealogy Societies inform me, that Tuthill had been a schoolteacher in the area for many years after the war. Three of the 4 veterans that we honored last summer, were known to us because of Ruby Cusacks column.
Of the 60 names that we have to date, 17 of those are yet to be located. All that we know is that they are supposed to be in the area. If we enlist your knowledge of the different areas and genealogy, most of these men can be located, as you know how difficult it is for one person to complete such a task alone. Following is a list of veterans and the area where they are reported to be resting, and any other info that we have:
Of the thousands of names that we do have of enlistees from Atlantic Provinces, these are the ones that are documented in some form, as being buried here. It can only be understood that more than 60 of the thousands returned home after the war. They all did not return, as many were killed or died of wounds and disease, and still others stayed and lived their lives in the US, but surely more than 60 came home, and we will continue to search for them, and remember them. Some of the descendants of these veterans have not forgotten and have passed that knowledge on to us. Shirley O’Neill, a member of the New Brunswick Genealogy Society, Charlotte County Branch, told us of her ancestor, Pvt. Owen O’Neill, Co C, 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, who served from Aug, 27, 1864 to Feb. 18, 1865. He is buried at St. Patricks Roman Catholic Cemetery, Rollingdam, NB., having passed on Oct 8, 1918. Shirley has also helped in locating Cpl. James R. McCurdy, Co. D, 6th Maine Inf., who is resting at St. Andrews Roman Catholic Cemetery, St. Andrews, NB. (lot 101). Ruby Cusack supplied information on J. Harvey Sederquest, who had served with 1st DC Calvary, and is buried on the family farm near Cassidy Lake, NB. Our unit is in the process of obtaining a gravestone for him, supplied by the US Government. One of the men we have yet to locate a grave for is Edwin Clark, who served in the Union Navy aboard the USS North Carolina. He is buried somewhere in Maces Bay, NB, and one of his descendants is the late, Nancy Clark-Teed. We are in the planning stages for a ceremony this summer for Rufin Olloqui, who was a Surgeon with 61st Mass. Inf., who is buried in the Rexton Catholic Cemetery, NB. Many descendants live in the area and are planning on attending the service. We have also had requests to perform a ceremony for an ancestor, and one such request is for William Scott, who had been a citizen of Minasville, NS., and is buried at Moosebrook, NS. I am told that he was a veteran of both the Union Navy and Infantry, and our presence is requested at the next family reunion, in 2007, where over 200 family members are expected.
Daniel Johnson’s publication , “The Service Records of Atlantic Canadians With the State of Maine Volunteers”, contains over 2000 names, far too many to list here. A few of the names are: Baker from Saint John, Boyer from Woodstock, Campbell’s and Johnson’s from NB, NS and