Saturday, December 22, 2012

Enoch F. Tompkins, Massachusetts

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Enoch Foote Tompkins was born in Haverhill, Mass., November 4, 1830. His father was Christopher Tompkins, who was a classmate of John G. Whittier at the Haverhill Academy, and the captain's grandfather was Rev. Isaac Tompkins, who held the degree of A. M. from Brown University, and who became pastor of a Congregational church in the East Side of Haverhill, Mass., more than one hundred years ago. This grandfather married Mary Alden, daughter of John Alden, of Fair Haven, Mass., who was a lineal descendent of John Alden, who came over in the Mayflower "Speak for yourself , John,"  Captain Tompldiis mother was Abbie Foote, daughter of Enoch and Ssrah (George )Foote. The Footes were well-established and prominent people in Newburyport, while the Georges were highly respectable people and belonged in Haverhill and vicinity.

In June, 1856, Captain Tompkins married Catherine Hayden Shurtleff, during whose infancy her mother died, the. baby then becoming the protege of the Thurston family, hence she was often known as Catherine H. Thurston. Both the Thurston and Shurtleff families were highly respectable people. From the marriage of Captain Tompkins. and Miss Shurtleff there are two surviving children. Miss Abbie Hayden Tompkins and Charles Chase Tompkins, who now reside in Haverhill. Captain Tompkins, when' a boy, received a part of his education in the public schools of Haverhill, and after finishing an academic course, settled down to business in that town. He had not enjoyed many years at his quiet and pleasant business before it became apparent that war between the North and the South was inevitable. The excitement caused by the secession, from the Union of state after state in the South, spread to every, city, town and hamlet of the country. The people of the North became profoundly agitated, and fully determined to meet force with force for the preservation of the Union. The crisis came, the people of the South appealing to arms to enforce their demand for separation. The cry at the North was "To Arms" and save the country from disintegration.

With the blood of Revolutionary sires coursing in his veins, what less could young Tompkins do than rush to arms, and sustain the record of his heroic and honorable ancestors? It was in the blood, and he and other young men organized Company F, of Haverhill Luther Day becoming captain, Enoch F. Tompkins, first lieutenant, and William H. Turner, second lieutenant.

Company F was composed of a hundred smart, intelligent Haverhill boys, and some of them were sons of the best famihes of the town. Drill was the order of the day. It was a splendid company. It was patronized by the townspeople, who supplied the every want of the boys. When the company reported to Colonel Dike at Lynnfield, as part of the Seventeenth Massachusetts Infantry, on July 10, 1861, it was given position as right flank company, thereby making it and its officers the seniors of the regiment. This was proof of its perfect organization and complete readiness for active service. The regiment proceeded to the front on the 23d of August, 1861, making its headquarters at Baltimore, Md., for a few months.

Captain Tompkins was commissioned first lieutenant in the Seventeenth Massachusetts, May 10, 1861. His promotion to captain was recognized by all as a fitting reward for his faithful and intelligent service while first lieutenant. He served with his regiment during the three years' service of the command, and was mustered out at Lynnfield, August 3, 1864. He remained at home a few months when, fearing that he had not rendered an the service he was capable of to his country, he was re-commissioned in the same regiment as captain, and served with the command until the final muster out at the close of the war, July 14, 1865.

Captain Tompkins was on every march and in every fight that his company and regiment participated in. He was brave and cool under all circimistances a strict disciplinarian, but never cruel. He was educated, attractive and witty. In his bouts at witicism he unhorsed many a friendly opponent with his laconic shafts of wit; but having conquered, with a peal of good-natiued laughter, he would restore his antagonist to good-fellowship again. Referring to his well-known bravery, the writer of this sketch remembers distinctly one circumstance which showed the mettle of the man. On July 26, 1863, the regiment having landed near Winton, (otherwise Mt. Tabor), and was marching in coliunn along the road, when the enemy, secreted behind breast works, opened fire on the regiment. Colonel Fellows changed formation from column to line and advanced upon the enemy. This formation brought Captain Tompkins in command of Company B, on the road, facing the line of works. He led his men over the works as cooly and smilingly as though they were marching to a good dinner.

The children of Captain Tomp kins may well feel proud of the record of their gallant sire, and the city of Haverhill of her heroic son, and no disparagement to others is intended when it is said that the city of Haverhill would not suffer if she proclaimed Captain Tompkins the peer of Major Jack Howe. Captain Tompkins died February 6, 1901.

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