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in the Civil War
|Fifty-first Infantry. Col., Augustus B. R. Sprague; Lieut.-Col.,
John M. Studley; Maj., Elijah A. Harkness. The 51st was recruited from the southern part
of Worcester county during the summer and autumn of 1862. The men rendezvoused at Camp
Wool, Worcester, and from Sept. 25 to Nov. 11 were mustered into service for nine months.
The regimental rolls show a total of 42 officers and 879 enlisted men. It lost no men in
action, but 40 died from disease, suffering especially from cerebrospinal meningitis. The
field officers were all taken from active service with other organizations. Col. Sprague
having served previously as captain of the 3d battalion rifles, and as lieutenant-colonel
of the 25th infantry. He had been in action at Roanoke island and New Berne. By request of
Gen. Foster the regiment was ordered to North Carolina. It left the state on Nov. 25 and
arrived at Beaufort Nov. 30, proceeding directly to New Berne, where it was assigned to
Amory's brigade, composed of Massachusetts troops. It took part in the Goldsboro
expedition, in which it lost 2 men wounded. On Dec. 30 Co. G, under Capt. T. D. Kimball,
was detailed for special service at Brice's ferry, where it continued throughout its term
of service. In Jan., 1863, seven companies shared in the expedition to Pollocksville and
Trenton, returning to New Berne on the 21st. Throughout March and April, it was
distributed along the railroad between New Berne and Morehead City in the performance of
garrison duty, having its headquarters at Beaufort. Meanwhile the health of the regiment
had materially improved and it returned to New Berne on May 4. On June 24 it was ordered
to Fortress Monroe, and arrived there on the 27th, having left behind 183 men sick. Its
term of service had now expired, but it volunteered for further service during the
emergency created by the entrance of Lee's army into Maryland, and was first employed on
special service in Baltimore until July 5. The next day it reported to Gen. H. S. Briggs,
in command of a provisional brigade of Massachusetts troops, and was stationed on Marye's
heights until the 12th, when it was ordered to join the Army of the Potomac at Funkstown.
The regiment had suffered so much from disease contracted by exposure in the swamps of
North Carolina, that it was now reduced to 275 men for duty. When Lee's army escaped into
Virginia, it was ordered to return to Massachusetts, and reached Worcester on July 21. It
was mustered out of service July 27, 1863, after serving almost ten months.
Regimental history taken from "The Union Army" by Federal Publishing
Company, 1908 - Volume 1