Acton Memorial Library (Middlesex County)

ActonLocation: Acton Memorial Library, 486 Main Street, Acton
Coordinates: 42°29’10.8″N 71°25’59.4″W
Date dedicated: May 24, 1890
Architect/contractor: H.W. Hartwell and William C. Richardson of Boston (architects). Charles H. Dodge (contractor)
Number of names: 124 who served, and 26 who died in the war

The Acton Memorial Library was a gift of Acton native William Allan Wilde in 1890. In funding the library, he had two purposes in mind. First, he intended to create a monument to the Acton soldiers and sailors who fought in the war for the Union, “that their names shall be handed down to their children and children’s children as a perpetual memorial for all time.” Second, he desired, in his words, “to give to every man, woman, and child in Acton a library of good, pure, interesting and instructive reading—so to mould the minds of all.”[1]

At the very start of the Revolution, Acton men were the first to fall in the fight at the Old North Bridge, April 19, 1775. Coincidentally, a company from Acton was with the 6th Massachusetts Militia during the first bloodshed of the Civil War, April 19, 1861 in Baltimore when that regiment was attacked by a secessionist mob in the streets. Governor John D. Long, who gave the address during the dedication of the library, referred to this fact as “the exquisiteness of poetic symmetry.”

The company of Acton men who volunteered in April 1861 were known as the “Davis Guards” after Capt. Isaac Davis who had led Acton’s men at the Old North Bridge and was killed during the opening volley from the British. Capt. Daniel Tuttle was first elected to command the Davis Guards in 1855 and commanded them through their 90-day term of federal service in 1861. Unlike most of those in his community, Tuttle supported the right of southerners to hold slaves and voted against Lincoln, instead supporting the southern candidate, John Breckenridge in the 1860 elections. When Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter, however, Tuttle felt strongly that treason should be put down and prepared his company overnight when the call came.

One tablet in the entryway of the library features the names of 124 men who served from the town. Another lists the 26 men from Acton who died in service during the war.

[1] “Dedicatory Services of Memorial Library Building and Soldiers’ Tablets: Acton, Mass., May 24, 1890” L. Barta & Co
[2] “Civil War Records of Captain Daniel Tuttle,” Acton Memorial Library

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