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Federal (USV)


Milton S Roberts

(1840 - 1920)

Home State: Maine

Command Billet: Soldier

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 5th Maine Infantry

Before Antietam

He enlisted in Company B, 5th Maine, at Biddeford, on 24 June 1861 for three years.

On the Campaign

He was wounded and lost his left foot on the Maryland Campaign. It is most likely that it was in combat at Crampton's Gap on 14 September.

The rest of the War

He was hospitalized for some time recovering from his wound, mostly in Washington, DC. It was during this time, in early 1863, that he described his experiences at White Oak Swamp (30 June 1862) to volunteer nurse Walt Whitman. Whitman later wrote the poem A March in the Ranks Hard-Prest, and a Road Unknown based on notes of that conversation.

After the War

In 1867 Roberts built a house on 10 acres he bought in the town of Falls Church, Virginia, near Washington, DC, apparently because it was also home to his doctor. He had the parts for the house, and some of the carpenters, sent from his brother's lumber business in Berwick, Maine. He was employed at the US Pension Office in Washington DC for 40 years, and was known locally as "Captain" Roberts, because of his military bearing.

References & notes

Sources: Falls Church Archives at the Mary Riley Styles Public Library, Falls Church, VA; including letter of Mrs M E Roberts of 3/26/1971;
The Soldiers and Sailors System (database online), US Park Service; and
The Walt Whitman Collection, US Library of Congress.

Notes: Roberts' house (409 West Street) later went to his nephew Milton E. Roberts, and stayed in the family til 1965. It is still in private use, and in excellent condition (as of 2003).

More on the Web

See Walt Whitman's "hospital" notebook (1st page) for battle description from Roberts, transcribed text of the notes, and the final poem, published in the volume Drum-Taps (1865). Also see Angel Price's excellent article on Drum-Taps and Washington hospitals.


1840 in NH


1920; burial in Oakwood Cemetery, Falls Church, VA