Monday, August 13, 2012

Samuel Darrah & Ezra Stetson, Tenth Vermont Infantry.

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Samuel Darrah was born in Poultney, Vermont, In 1840. Of his boyhood, early education, and personal experience with the world, we know nothing. Some years previous to his entering the service he was chief clerk in Stanford's dry goods house, Burlington, Vermont. This fact is sufficient to warrant the inference that he was a young man of excellent business tact, trusted integrity, and of high moral standing. As a soldier, his military record more than justifies this inference. He became a brave and trusty officer, and well merited the praise bestowed upon him by his commanders. He entered the service in July, 1862, and was commissioned First Lieutenant of Company D, August fifth following. Soon after, upon the resignation of Captain G. F. Appleton, he was promoted Captain of Company D, in which capacity he served God's time, and desei"ved the awards of highest valor for the great sacrifice he made. Probably no record which could be made would do him exact justice. Indeed it may be said for those who desire such a record, the reminiscences of friendly alliance and companionship, of tibials and dangers borne together, of hopes mutually cherished, these will abundantly supply it.

Captain Darrah was complimented for bravery and coolness in action, in Colonel Jewett's official report of the battle of Locust Grove, November 27, 1S63. In Colonel Henry's official report of his death he speaks of him as an "active, intelligent, and exceedingly brave and efficient young officer." Also Lieutenant-Colonel Chandler, in an official report to General Washburne of the engagement of the third of June, made on the sixth, speaks of him in terms of brotherly commendation. Qiiick to learn the duties of a soldier, faithful and energetic in their performance, he was one of our most popular company commanders. No doubt his kind and genial spirit, his generous nature, and his ready adaptation to the customs of more experienced soldiers, won for him many warm friends, and made his death, in addition to his loss to the service, the more lamentable.

The following are some of the general engagements in which he participated : Locust Grove, the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Tolopotamy Creek, and Cold Harbor on the first and thii'd of June. He was killed on the sixth of June,at Cold Harbor, in front of regimental headquarters, while in command of his company, by a rebel sharpshooter, the ball entering the back part of his head and coming out just above his left eye. It is said that this fatal ball first passed through the butt of a Springfield rifle stock, did its work of death, and then cut off" a small sapling beyond. He lived five hours, though probably unconscious of pain. This at least was the oj^inion of Surgeon Childe, who was present at his death, and sincerely mourned his loss. His remains were immediately conveyed to Vermont, and in his native town rests all that mother earth may claim of Captain Samuel Darrah.

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Ezra  Stetson was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in the year 1S35, and was about forty years old when he died, June first, 1864. His ancestors, on his father's side, were among the early generations of Plymouth Colony. His great-grandtather, Robert Stetson, was a man of some distinction in old colonial times, having been a cornet in the first "troop of horse" in the Colony. He was a soldier in the war against King Philip, an officer and commissioner of the General Court, and a member of the Council of War for many years during the earlier Indian disturbances. Ezra's father was the seventh son of Cornet Stetson. A short time after he was born, his parents moved to the northern part of Vermont and settled in Troy. They were highly respectable people, and his father was a deacon in the Baptist Church.

Like his ancestors, the subject of this sketch seems to have been a man of considerable enterprise. When a boy, fourteen years old, he journeyed from his northern home in Vermont to his birthplace in Boston, and returned all the way on foot. Eight years afterwards we find him, having in the meantime been bred a mechanic, established in Burlington as a millwright, where he worked at his trade until 1850. In the spring of this year he started for California, and sailed from New York in the steamship Georgia. He was, however, detained on the Isthmus with the whole ship's coiiipany for several weeks. During his stay there occurred what has been called the "Great Riot" of 1850, in which many Americans lost their lives, and Stetson himself very narrowly escaped Spanish vengeance. In California he engaged in various enterprises, none of which, though diligently pursued, seemed to bring him much profit. He tried mining for a year, at the same time ventured in several kinds of speculation. He was caught in the Gold Bluff excitement ; but finally got out of it and returned to San Francisco. He then successfully undertook to publish and bring out a "Directory" of that city for 1851-2. Here also he engaged in manufacturing concentrated milk, and afterwards was permanently employed in the construction of the San Francisco Water Works. In 1853, he again engaged in mining, and in the construction of machinery for mining purposes, until 1858. He then returned to Vermont and subsequently went into mercantile business at Montpelier.

In 1862, he enlisted and recruited a number of men, who finally joined Captain Dillingham's Company, of which he was made First Lieutenant and placed in Company B, Tenth Regiment Vermont Volunteers. Most of the time in the field he commanded this company, his captain having been detailed on staff duty, and othei-vvise separated from his command. He was with his regiment and at his post while the troops were in the defences of Washington doing guard duty in the winter of 1862-3, and all their campaigns and battles in 1863-4 til the first of June, 1864. On this day, fatal to so many of the Vermont men, and especially to this regiment, he fell, while bravely charging the enemy at the head of his company at the battle of Cold Harbor. He was struck by a minie ball just below his left eye and was instantly killed. Our troops retiring, he was left between the lines several days, but his body was finally recovered and buried on the field where he fell. He was
the first commissioned officer who was killed from this regiment. Lieutenant Stetson was a brave and capable officer,
more than deserving the rank he enjoyed. He fairly won a Captain's commission, and, doubtless, he would have received it had he survived this battle. But in the list with many others we cannot estimate his patriotic service by the rank he bore. His sacrifice will be its true, full measure.

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