Winthrop

Winthrop Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Monument (Suffolk County). See gallery below for more images.

Location: 1 Metcalf Square, Winthrop
Coordinates: 42°22’38.1″N 70°59’04.1″W
Date dedicated: May 30, 1907
Architect/contractor/sculptor: Edward J. Clark
Number of names: 173 who served in the war

Standing in a seaside town just one mile from Logan airport, Winthrop’s monument lists 173 who were credited to the town for service during the Civil War. Only 30 of these were Winthrop residents–the rest were from elsewhere and recruited to meet the town’s quota.[1] The monument was sculpted by Edward J. Clark of Winthrop (who served as a selectman) and dedicated on Memorial Day, 1907. The primary inscription reads, “The Town of Winthrop Erects this Monument in Memory of Those Who Died that the Nation Might Live.” The monument was originally located closer to the middle of the intersection and centered on the Town Hall but was moved during road widening c. 1920.[2] On the day of the dedication, John E. Beck, a state senator and later mayor of Chelsea, gave the oration.

Gen. William Francis Bartlett

One of the Bay State’s most celebrated and beloved war heroes came from Winthrop. Though he is largely forgotten today, the young and dashing General William Francis Bartlett was well known in the 19th century and was honored with a fine statue in the Massachusetts State House. As Governor Andrew after the war proclaimed him “Massachusetts’s most valuable soldier,” his astonishing war career is worth here describing in some detail.[3]

At age 20, Bartlett set aside his studies at Harvard College to enlist as a private in the 4th Battalion Massachusetts Infantry. After serving his 90-day term, Bartlett became a captain in the 20th Massachusetts (the famed “Harvard Regiment”). He was shot in the knee during the Siege of Yorktown and the wound required the amputation of his left leg. Bartlett returned to Massachusetts to recuperate during the summer of 1862 and completed his studies at Harvard. Though he suffered very much from his wound, he sought another commission and was appointed colonel of the 49th Massachusetts which served in Louisiana. He was fitted with an artificial leg shortly before the regiment departed but still depended on the use of a crutch which he wore slung across his back when mounted. During the assault on Port Hudson, he was forced to ride his horse into the engagement as he could not manage the extremely rugged terrain. An easy target, he was shot twice— a bullet shattered his left wrist, while buckshot struck his right leg.[4]

At this point (or even before) Colonel Bartlett might have resigned honorably and stayed home. But instead he accepted the command of the 57th Massachusetts Infantry. The regiment became part of the Army of the Potomac and arrived just in time for Gen. Grant’s relentless Overland Campaign. During the first major engagement of the campaign, the Battle of the Wilderness, Bartlett was struck by a bullet which glanced off his temple. The head wound laid him low and he was again sent home.[5]

Statue of William F. Bartlett by Daniel French

But still Bartlett was not finished with the war. In June 1864, he received his commission, signed by Lincoln, promoting him to brigadier general. He was only 24. In July he returned to the Army of the Potomac as the commander of the 1st brigade, 1st division, IX Corps. The brigade consisted of six Massachusetts and one Pennsylvania regiment, all them war-torn and much diminished. During the calamitous Battle of the Crater, Bartlett was captured and spent two months in a Confederate prison, suffering severely from disease. He was paroled in September 1864 and sent home.[5]

It took somewhat longer for Bartlett to recover this time. But he still was not done. Two months after the Confederate surrender, Bartlett returned to command the 1st division of the IX Corps, then serving garrison duty outside of Washington. He remained in this command but a short time, the division being mustered out in July 1865. At that time, he was recommended for a brevet promotion to Major General which was passed by the Senate in March 1866 when he was 26 years old. He moved to Pittsfield after the war and died there at age 36. His statue in the State House was sculpted by Daniel Chester French (who later sculpted the “Seated Lincoln” in the Lincoln Memorial).

[1] William H. Clark, The History of Winthrop, Massachusetts, (Winthrop: Town Centennial Committee, 153 and 304.
[2] Massachusetts Cultural Resource Information System, “Winthrop Civil War Memorial.”
[3] Clark, 154.
[4] James L. Bowen, Massachusetts in the War, 1861-1865, (Springfield: Clark W. Bryan & Co., 1889), 885-887
[5] David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler, Encyclopedia of the Civil War: A Political, Social and Military History, (New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 2000), 185.

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