Two teenaged Civil War soldiers from Foxcroft remembered

By Eric Boothroyd

During a chance wandering through the Parson’s Cemetery on the Parson’s Landing Road in Dover-Foxcroft last fall, Jim Austin, the commander of the local Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, came across the graves of two Civil War soldiers, John H. Gould and Edwin N. Pratt, and thought they would be worthy of honors during our memorial services this spring. What appeared to be a random choice of two soldiers, turned out to hint at a deeper connection upon investigation of their lives and untimely deaths.

John H. Gould was born around September, 1844, in Sebec to Ira Lincoln Gould and Abigail (Earle) Gould. The 1850 census shows the family then residing in Foxcroft. On Oct. 10, 1862, during the second year of the Civil War, John enlisted and was mustered into service as a private in Co. I, 22nd Maine Volunteer Infantry, at the age of 19. The 22nd Maine was the second of eight Maine regiments raised in October 1862 to serve for a nine-month term, rather than the usual three-years. The regiment was ultimately assigned to the Army of the Gulf and served in Louisiana. The regiment’s commander, Col. Jerrard, wrote in a letter to the adjutant general of Maine in early 1863, “While at Baton Rouge the regiment suffered severely from sickness and death notwithstanding every care and effort to preserve the health of the troops.” Ned Smith, the author of a recent history of the 22nd Maine, summed it up this way, “It seems that, as we might suspect, young men from Maine simply had no previous exposure or immunity to the diseases of the Gulf and the bayous.”

Young John Gould died at the age of 19 on Feb. 12, 1863, in the Regimental Hospital at Baton Rouge of “typho-malarial fever”. His local gravestone may be a cenotaph, because records indicate that he was actually buried at the National Cemetery in Baton Rouge, Section 10, Grave No. 592. Also, this stone indicates his death date as Feb. 11 but all of the military records show Feb. 12.

His mother Abigail filed for his pension benefits as a dependent in 1886. His father Ira filed for the same in 1894.

Edwin N. Pratt was born around January 1845, in Foxcroft to Roswell B. and Cynthia Pratt. The 1850 census showed that the five-year-old boy had lost his mother, since his father was listed as a widower. His headstone mentions his service with the 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, but what it doesn’t show is that on Oct. 10, 1862, Edwin enlisted and was mustered into Co. I, 22nd Maine Volunteer Infantry; the same day and unit as John H. Gould. 

I think it is fair to speculate that these two lads, just months apart in age, knew each other and entered into the service of their country together. Although Pvt. Gould lost his life only four months into his enlistment, Pvt. Pratt completed his term of service and was mustered out of the 22nd Maine on Aug. 14, 1863. We can assume that he had time to return home for a while, but he re-entered the service again by year’s end and was mustered into Co. H, 1st Maine Heavy Artillery, on Dec. 3, 1863, and was sent to the District of Columbia to man the forts which surrounded the city. Edwin Pratt survived the pestilence of Baton Rouge, but he succumbed to typhoid fever at Fort Simmons in Washington, D.C., on May 2, 1864, at the age of 19. 

Two, single boys from Foxcroft entered the service together. One was taken by disease just months into his enlistment, and the second survived, only to reenlist and be taken by disease just months into his enlistment. Both were 19 at the time of their death.

Col. C.S. Douty Camp 11, Sons of Union Veterans, along with the Sarah E. Palmer Tent 29, Daughters of Union Veterans, will hold a memorial service to honor these two veterans at Parson’s Cemetery, Sunday, May 26 at 3 p.m.

Boothroyd is the current secretary-treasurer of Col. C. S. Douty Camp 11, Dover-Foxcroft, Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, and is a past department commander. More information on the SUVCW can be found at www.suvcwmaine.org.

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