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Rededication of Our Civil War Monument

On June 22, 2002, the colonial town of West Brookfield rededicated its Civil War Monument on the Common. The ceremony was well attended and, with the help of the Massachusetts 15th Re-enactors who provided a living history encampment on the Common, was well received. They shared their information on the 15th with us.They did indeed present a living tribute to our soldiers from West Brookfield who lost their lives while serving their Country with the 15th. We would like to share the information gathered on these West Brookfield soldiers.

Read at the Rededication of the West Brookfield Civil War Monument, June 22, 2002

The 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry information compiled by Bob Ducharme and the West Brookfield information compiled by the Historical Commission

The 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment was comprised of 1000 men made up from militia companies that came from 10 Worcester County towns.COMPANY F was from the BROOKFIELDS. The 15th regiment saw action in nearly all the major battles that took place in the Eastern Theater of the war, and was among the 6 regiments in the Union army that sustained the heaviest losses throughout the entire struggle.

Their first engagement came only three months after being mustered into service, when on October 21, 1861, at the battle of Ball’s Bluff the regiment suffered 302 casualties of the 625 men that they sent across the Potomac River. The regiment now had indeed seen the elephant. After a winter of little activity and a spring that was spent near Harpers Ferry, the regiment which was now part of the 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac, took part in the peninsula campaign where in June of 1862 they were engaged in the battles of Fair Oaks, Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, Glendale, and Malvern Hill.

After early summer efforts by the Union troops to reach Richmond had failed, the armies moved north, where on the morning of September 17, 1862 at the BATTLE OF ANTIETAM, the regiment experienced their most severe loss of the entire war, when in less than 20 minutes they suffered 343 casualties of the 606 men taken into action. On this bloodiest single day in American history, a day that would see 23,000 casualties, the 15th regiment suffered the greatest losses of any regiment on either side. Losses from WEST BROOKFIELD were: JUSTUS C. WELLINGTON, killed in action; WILLIAM L. ADAMS, ALBERT W. LIVERMORE, and WILLIAM E. VANEVER, all mortally wounded, all from Company F.

After being lightly engaged and suffering few casualties in the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancelorsville, the 15th was once again called on to take a critical role at the center of the Union lines at Gettysburg, where on July 2 and 3 of 1863 they suffered 143 casualties, or 62% of the 239 men that they took into battle. A figure exceeded by only 4 other regiments in this pivotal battle of the war. EDWARD W. PROUTY was mortally wounded in action on July 2, 1863 at the Battle of GETTYSBURG and died in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania on July 15, 1863.

During the following fall and winter, the regiment took part in actions at Bristoe Station, Mine Run, and Morton’s Ford. In May of 1864 the 15th regiment took part in their last campaign where they saw severe action in the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, North Anna River, and Cold Harbor, suffering casualties in each battle.WILLIAM A. MULLET was mortally wounded at the WILDERNESS, VA.

On June 22, 1864, the remaining 77 members of this regiment who were fit for duty were captured near Petersburg.Some of these men were then sent to Andersonville Prison where several died from starvation or disease, adding to the casualty list. CHARLES A. GLEASON was captured at PETERSBURG and died on November 8, 1864, a POW at ANDERSONVILLE, GA. On July 12, all remaining members of the regiment who were in hospitals, on detached service, or still in the field were prepared to return home where they were to be mustered out. Only 85 men, or 5% of the 1765 men who had at one time or other belonged to this regiment could be assembled.

Few regiments throughout the war were more actively engaged or suffered greater losses than the 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. None have given more freely the blood of its bravest and its best.

Special thanks to Bob Ducharme and the 15th MVI Re-enactors.

West Brookfield information by the WBHC.

Copyright 2001 West Brookfield Historical Commission Last modified: May 1, 2007