North Reading

North Reading
Tablets in Flint Memorial Library (photo courtesy of Flint Memorial Library staff)

North ReadingLocation: Tablets in Flint Memorial Library, 147 Park Street
Coordinates: 42°34’28.9″N 71°04’35.1″W
Date dedicated: October 21, 1875
Number of names: 26 who died in action or due to wounds (two of these died after the war)

Flint Memorial Library itself is not a Civil War memorial but it houses the town’s Civil War memorial tablets which, according to the town clerk in 1909, “serve to keep alive the spirit of devotion.”[1] The building was a gift of Harriet Newell Flint of Wakefield in memory of her husband, Charles F. Flint, a native of North Reading. She also paid for the tablets. Mrs. Flint was well known at the time for her philanthropy. She inherited a considerable fortune from her husband and then proceeded to more than double it through energetic and wise business pursuits. She funded libraries and other public buildings in both Wakefield and North Reading, gave generously to schools, churches and veterans organizations, and bequeathed funds for Wakefield’s Civil War monument, among other projects.[2]

Flint, Harriet
Harriet Newell Flint (1815-1896)
Originally, the building housed the town’s library, police station and town office. In 1958, the library moved to another building while the town offices remained until 1988. In 1991, after thorough renovations, the library reoccupied the building as the sole occupant.

The first name on the tablets is that of Corporal Charles Burditt. He enlisted on May 25, 1861 with the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry for a term of three years. A little more than two years after enlistment, after participating in many large battles, Corporal Burditt was with his regiment at Gettysburg. The 2nd Massachusetts is known for its harrowing charge made during that battle near Spangler’s Spring. The regiment was ordered to retake a line of trenches occupied by the Confederates. To do so, they would have to charge across an open field directly into enemy fire. When Lt. Col. Charles Mudge (commanding the 2nd Massachusetts) received the order, he paused for a moment, then, in disbelief, calmly asked the orderly to repeat it. Hearing again his brigade commander’s instructions, Mudge replied, “Well, it is murder, but it’s the order.”

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Flint Memorial Library

Records show that Corporal Burditt of North Reading was shot in the ankle on July 3, 1863, the day the 2nd Massachusetts made that charge at Spangler’s Spring. Although it is theoretically possible that he was wounded before or after, odds are that he was hit during that particular action. His wound required the amputation of his foot. He lay for three weeks with thousands of soldiers in “tent city” known as Camp Letterman, the vast medical camp that was set up just outside of Gettysburg for the care of the wounded and sick. He died there on July 26, 1863, at age 21. He is buried in Harmony Vale Cemetery in North Reading.

[1] Alfred S. Roe, Monuments, Tablets and other Memorials Erected in Massachusetts to Commemorate the Service of her Sons in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-1865, (Boston: Wright and Potter Printers, 1910), 88.
[2] Julia Ward Howe, et. al., Sketches of Representative Women of New England, (Boston: New England Historical Pub. Co., 1904), 124-125.
[3] Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors and Marines in the Civil War