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Federal (USV)

Corporal

Frank M. Whitman

(1838 - 1918)

Home State: Massachusetts

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 35th Massachusetts Infantry

Before Antietam

A 23 year old manufacturer in Haverhill, MA, he enlisted 2 August and mustered as Corporal, Company G, 35th Massachusetts Infantry on 17 August 1862.

On the Campaign

He later received the Medal of Honor for saving lives of his comrades while under fire at Antietam:

[above the lower bridge on the afternoon of 17 September] our progress was stopped by the terrible fire of the enemy. We were obliged to retire. I and a few others were separated from our comrades and left behind with the dead and wounded on the field. We fired a last volley, receiving one in return which sent death to one of our men.

Lying low and carefully watching I discovered the enemy moving to another part of the field a short distance away. Cautiously I looked around among the men and found that two besides myself were alive and unhurt. Turn which way one would nothing could be seen or heard but the dead the dying and the wounded, and the suppressed moans and cries of agony from all directions; here and there cries for a cooling drink of water or a call for assistance and a helping hand. Mangled bodies of brave men, wherever one turned. A ghastly scene that will ever be before my eyes!

We three undertook to relieve the suffering as far as we could and to get the wounded away from the place. This work we continued for several hours, after which we set out to find the regiment. On regaining our lines, at my urgent solicitation, two officers and a number of men were sent with me to remove as many wounded as possible without drawing the fire of the enemy.

On returning to the field we found that the enemy had advanced his picket line some distance beyond his own line and well up to that of ours. Because of this advance our picket would not allow us to go outside of the lines, but I pleaded with him so earnestly that I was permitted to make the attempt to get a wounded comrade of my own company. This was a very delicate task for had I attracted the attention of the enemy an engagement would, without doubt have been precipitated. Stealthily, however, I worked my way to where my comrade lay within a few feet of the enemy's pickets and told him in a whisper what I could do for him with his co operation. My friend, though suffering great pain from a wound in the leg that caused his death three weeks afterward, mutely and thankfully took up the journey to our lines which though near seemed yet so far away. With great difficulty the task was accomplished, and we got within the lines unobserved by the enemy, or at least without drawing their fire. The two officers and other men were able to remove quite a number of our wounded to a place where they could receive medical care.

The morning dawned sad and dreary through the falling rain. Company G was astir early, and counting its members, I saw only eight present with myself the sole surviving company officer. All commissioned and non-commissioned officers who had been in action except myself were gone. Nine were killed and thirty five wounded.

The rest of the War

He was promoted to Sergeant, date not given, and was awarded a second Medal of Honor for action at Spotsylvania Court House, VA on 18 May 1864. He was "foremost in line in the assault, where he lost a leg". He was discharged for disability from his wound on 18 December 1864.

References & notes

Service from Soldiers, Sailors and Marines.1 The Whitman quote above from Deeds of valor.2 His gravesite is on Findagrave.

Birth

9/30/1838; Woodstock, ME

Death

07/09/1918 Boston, MA; burial in Riverview Cemetery, Groveland, MA

Notes

1   Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Adjutant General, Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, 8 Vols, Norwood (MA): Norwood Press, 1931-35, Vol. 3, pg. 689  [AotW citation 20489]

2   Beyer, Walter F., and Oscar F. Keydel, compilers, Deeds of Valor: How America's Heroes Won the Medal of Honor , Detroit: The Perrien-Keydel Company, 1901, pp. 88-90  [AotW citation 20490]