top of page

The Bombardment of Fort Sumter (1)

Civil War

The news of Fort Sumter taken, came to Shrewsbury Saturday, April 12, 1861. Somehow or other the people of this town, until they heard this news, had never really believed that the slave holders actually meant war. When, on the morning of the 19th of April, 1775, the post-rider just from Lexington Common, dashed through Shrewsbury and rallied her minute-men to arms, it was just what everybody expected. But when the news of Sumter came to town there were no minute-men listening for rallying cry to arms.
Nevertheless, as soon as the news was duly authenticated, the people of Shrewsbury were just as resolved on what to do as their fathers had been eighty-six years before. Plenty of volunteers there were already to enlist as soon as they could find out how to do it and meet somebody willing to be an officer and take command of them.
According to the "Record of our Soldiers," kept by the town clerk of Shrewsbury, this town furnished one hundred and forty-seven volunteers. No man was drafted in Shrewsbury during the war, the quotas demanded of the town being filled even before they were demanded, and at the close of the war it was found that the town had furnished twenty men above its requirement. The one hundred and forty-seven volunteers of Shrewsbury enlisted, a few in this regiment and a few in that, the earliest in the Thirteenth Massachusetts.

Twenty-nine soldiers of Shrewsbury gave their lives for their country, to whose memory the town has erected an enduring monument, with their names inscribed thereon, on the Common fronting close upon the public thoroughfare. Several natives of Shrewsbury were officers of rank and their services for their country reflect luster on their native town.


John Baker Wyman was born here November 18, 1816. He had been engaged in railroad business for several years and was, at the breaking out of the Rebellion, Superintendent of the Illinois Central Railway Company. With the Chicago Light Guard, a military organization of which he was commander, as the nucleus, in the spring of 1861 he recruited the Thirteenth Illinois Infantry and was mustered into the United States service with that regiment as its colonel May 24th of that year. After a series of the most gallant and meritorious services he was killed at the siege of Vicksburg.

Calvin E. Pratt was born here in 1827. A practicing lawyer in the city of New York in 1861, he laid aside his practice to recruit a regiment and had it all ready for muster in June. As colonel of this regiment, which was the Thirty-first New York Volunteers, he was commissioned June 20th to rank as of May 21st. With his command he took part in the first battle of Bull Run; with it also he served in the Peninsula campaign of 1862 and participated in the Seven Day Fight before Richmond. At the battle of Gaines' Mills he was severely wounded. He was promoted brigadier-general September 13, 1862.

Charles Edward Hapgood, born in Shrewsbury, December 11, 1830, was at the breaking out of the war engaged in mercantile business at Amherst, N.H. He recruited a company for the Fifth New Hampshire Volunteers, and was mustered into service with it October 12, 1861. He served with his regiment till October 14, 1864, when, on account of severe wounds, he resigned, having been promoted lieutenant-colonel, December 14, 1862, and colonel July 3, 1864.

Dr. Henry Putnam Stearnsborn in Shrewsbury in 1827, entered the service of the United States April 18, 1861, as surgeon of the First Connecticut volunteers, a three months regiment, and was mustered out August lst of the same year, when he was appointed surgeon of volunteers and ordered to report to  General Grant in the Department of the West. The next spring he was assigned to duty as Medical Director  of the Right Wing of the Army of the Tennessee, was afterwards Inspector of Army Hospitals at St. Louis,  also medical director of the general hospitals of the Northern Army of the Mississippi. He was afterwards in the same position at Nashville, Tenn., where he remained till the close of war when August, 1865 he was mustered out of service with rank of brevet lieutenant- colonel.

Charles Grosvenor Ward was born in Shrewsbury December 30, 1829; was mustered into the service of the United States September 2, 1861, as second lieutenant in the Twenty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers, the favorite regiment of the city of Boston. He was promoted first lieutenant June 27, 1863, and assigned to duty as adjutant of his regiment. After participating unharmed in sixteen of the great battles of the war and without having ever received any promotions at all commensurate with his long and meritorious service, he was killed in the battle of Drury's Bluff May 11, 1864.


D. Hamilton Hurd, History of Worcester County Massachusetts with Historical Sketches of many of its Pioneers and Prominent Men (Philadelphia: J. W. Lewis & Co., 1889), vol. I, pp. 780-810.

Gen Pratt.jpeg
Brigadier General Calvin E. Pratt

(1) The Bombardment of Fort Sumter, engraving by unknown artist, 1863. Courtesy of the United States National Park Service, Department of the Interior. Public Domain image.

bottom of page