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Federal (USV)


Harrison Aldrich


(1840 - 1909)

Home State: Vermont

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 21st Massachusetts Infantry

Before Antietam

A 20 year old farmer in Williamsville, VT, he enlisted at Worcester, MA as a Sergeant in Company K, 21st Massachusetts Infantry on 19 July 1861. He was First (Orderly) Sergeant when he was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on 3 March 1862. He was wounded in the shoulder at New Bern, NC on 14 March 1862 and was promoted to First Lieutenant on 18 July.

On the Campaign

He was with his Company on the Maryland Campaign of 1862. Private Stone of his Company described an incident on 17 September 1862 at Antietam at what became known as Burnside's Bridge:

We crossed the bridge, turned to the right and marched up a little way and halted to wait for ammunition, we having only a few rounds left. For a while troops came across the bridge and poured past us by the thousand. After a while we moved up on to the high ground opposite the bridge. A dead Johnny, a sergeant was lying there on the ground. Harry Aldrich turned him over and got his portemonnaie out of his pocket. He opened it and found done up in a little piece of paper a number of five dollar gold pieces ...

The rest of the War

He was promoted again, to Captain of Company I on 18 December 1862. He was granted 10 days leave from 5 to 16 March 1863 to go home to "avert the danger" of losing his property, then resigned his commission on 25 April 1863 for that reason, and because his Company had 3 officers and only 20 men present for duty. His resignation was accepted and he was discharged.

After the War

In 1870 he was a clerk in a store in Boston, MA. By 1880 he was a dealer in provisions in Somerville, MA and was still living there in 1900. He was active in the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the US (MOLLUS) and the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) veteran's groups. He began receiving a veteran's pension in 1890.

From the Boston Herald of 6 September 1909:

Brattleboro, Vt., Sept. 5 - Capt. Harrison Aldrich, civil war veteran, former Somerville alderman and Boston commission merchant, died at his summer home in South Newfane, 12 miles from here, this afternoon from the effects of a runaway accident last week.

Capt. Aldrich, his son-in-law, William Dole, of Lawrence, and Mr. Dole's two children were driving to the Williamsville station one day last week when their horse became suddenly frightened and ran away. All four were thrown to the road, but Capt. Aldrich was the most seriously hurt, his injuries proving to be internal.

References & notes

His service from Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines1 and his Compiled Service Records,2 via fold3. The Antietam quote above from J.M. Stone's Personal Recollections of the Civil War (1918). Personal details from family genealogists and the US Census for 1860-1900. Thanks to Tom Boudreau via Tom Ledoux's Vermont in the Civil War for the Herald obituary. His gravesite is on Findagrave.

He married Helen Louisa Morse (1841-1925) and they two daughters, Minnie (1865-1868) and Helen Edith (later Dole, 1877-1916).


09/18/1840; Newfane, VT


09/05/1909; Newfane, VT; burial in Williamsville Cemetery, Williamsville, VT


1   Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Adjutant General, Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, 8 Vols, Norwood (MA): Norwood Press, 1931-35, Vol. 2, pg. 641  [AotW citation 26512]

2   US War Department, Compiled Service Records of Soldiers who served in US Volunteer organizations enlisted for service during the Civil War, Record Group No. 94 (Adjutant General's Office, 1780's-1917), Washington DC: US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 1903-1927  [AotW citation 26513]