Acton Memorial Library
|H||10th Conn VI||Oct. 1, 1861; promoted to Full Corporal on May 21, 1862.||must. out Jan. 20, 1863.||Norwich, Conn.|
|H||2nd MHA||Private; enl. Nov. 11, 1863; must. Dec. 7, 1863; prom. to Corpl., Jan. 10, 1864; captured, Plymouth, N.C. April 20, 1864; exchanged Sept. 12, 1864||died of disease, Dec. 30, 1864, Annapolis, Md., a Corpl.||[credit] Acton||clerk||
|Co.||Regiment||Date Filed||Type||App. No.||Cert. No.||State||Beneficiary/Remarks|
|March 18, 1886||Mother||336 532||D.C.||Hannah A. Beckwith|
|Date||December 30, 1864|
|Place||Camp Parole Hospital, Annapolis, Md.|
From: The Norwich Memorial, The Annals of Norwich New London County, Connecticut in the Great Rebellion of 1861-65. By Malcolm McGregor Dana. Norwich, Conn: J.H. Jewett and Co., 1873. 352, 256-259:
HERBERT E. BECKWITH, Corporal, Second Artillery, Mass.
Captured at Plymouth, N. C., and taken to Andersonville, Ga., from which he returned, but in so exhausted a condition that he lived but six days, dying December 30, 1864. He was the son of Elisha W. Beckwith, of Norwich, and was born June 23, 1845. Early in the war he manifested a strong desire to enlist, but his youthful age and the wishes of his parents for a while deterred him. Many thought him too young to endure the hardships of a soldier's life, but the excitement and novelty of such a career had a fascination for him, and, boy as he was, he too felt the stirrings of that mighty passion which can make of even youth, patriots and heroes. Not that he at this time thoroughly defined his motives, but it was more than idle curiosity that had made him wish to do what he instinctively felt was noble. To have part in the mighty conflict, was his strongest desire. He was a lad of noble impulses, and not unintelligently did he choose that his place should be among the brave defenders of his country.
After some debate as to the wisdom of such a course, he enlisted, October I, 1861, in the Tenth Regiment, under Colonel Russell. For nearly two years he shared the fortunes of that noble regiment. He passed safely through the battles of Roanoke Island, Newbern, and Kingston. Through all this period till June, 1863, he acquitted himself well as a soldier. His fragile form, and boyish countenance frequently excited the wonder as to how he should have come into the rough scenes and stern experiences of military life.
At his father's request he was honorably discharged, June, 1863. His soldierly conduct had gained him the esteem of both officers and men, and at the time of leaving he was to have been promoted Sergeant-major.
In November, 1863, he enlisted for the second time in the Second Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. With this regiment he left for Norfolk, Va., the following month, and was stationed at Camp O'Rourke, near the city. On the l0th of January, 1864, he was made Corporal, and was detailed soon after as Orderly to the Adjutant. In February, the regiment was ordered to Plymouth, N. C., where it performed garrison duty at Fort Wessels, one of the defenses of that place. On the 20th of April, Plymouth was attacked by the enemy in force, and after a determined resistance was captured. Young Beckwith, with his regiment, was among the prisoners taken. They were immediately marched off, and taken under strong guard first to Tarboro, and thence to Wilmington, Charleston, and finally to Andersonville.
Here five weary months were passed. Beckwith's journal gives his experience in that terrible prison-pen. It is substantially a history of suffering, cruelty, and of every inhumanity possible to a desperate and unprincipled foe. "This is a miserable place," he writes in one place, " so little care is taken of it, especially of the sick, who die in large numbers." Exposure to the summer's scorching sun, and then to the night-dews, made its impress soon on the youthful soldier. It is painful to read of the struggle he and others had to make to live on the scanty and unwholesome rations dealt out there. On the 4th of July, he writes: "This most glorious day has passed almost in misery, in the most miserable place almost on earth." Sometimes he speaks of rations of rotten bacon, and again of the non-issue of the usual rations. The tale of suffering is affecting to read, and yet no word of complaint escapes him. Of his personal sufferings and patient hopeful spirit, friends at home knew comparatively little, till companions of his escaped from that pen of death, and told what they witnessed. Their account of his hopeful courage and resolute endurance, was most full and touching. Unable to digest the only food furnished them, Beckwith was among the first to experience the pangs of unsatisfied hunger. His calm relation in his diary of some terrible fact, such as the failure of water, or the appearance of disease, shows how the fearful schooling of these months had familiarized him with the most excruciating suffering. Singularly reticent as to his own interior life, he notes usually whatever he sees of interest. The recurrence of the holy Sabbath appeared to make him long most of all for his Christian home. "At times," he says, "I fancy I hear the church bells in Norwich."
September 12th, 1864, came the welcome news of deliverance through exchange, and he left the prison, though with the signs of a not far distant death. Taken to Charleston, he with the rest was transferred to one of our transports, and brought North. December 24th, he reached Camp Parole, Annapolis, Md., and on the 28th was removed to the hospital. Pale and weak, with his lungs almost gone, after the exposures incident to his prison-life, he went directly to his bed in the hospital, and died two days after, December 30, 1864.
Andersonville prison records. Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (website). National Park Service. http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/index.html
Roll of Honor: Names of Soldiers Who Died in Defense of the American Union, Interred in the National Cemeteries. U.S. Quartermaster's Department. Reprinted by Genealogical Pub. Co., 1994-, 7:55.
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