Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Charles S. Bolton, Massachusetts.

The following came from a book by Thomas Kirwan, called Memorial History of the Seventeenth, Massachusetts Infantry.
Push to enlarge.

In the afternoon of March 7, Colonel Splaine sent for Charles S. Bolton of Company A, and said to him: "Bolton, I have your furlough at last. Here it is, and transportation also, and now I want you to take the next train for Newbern, and there board the first steamer going North." Bolton asked if the next day would not do as well. Colonel Splaine said that the soldier must go today and that the train would start in about an hour's time. Bolton said, "Well, colonel, I don't see any need of hurry about it. I have my furlough, and that is the main thing.' '

Becoming a little irritated at the obstinacy of the soldier, Splaine said, "Now, Bolton, you know that I have worked like a beaver to secure your furlough, which has been unlawfully kept from you for over a year. You know that my first official act, after taking command of the regiment,was to place you in Company A, the company of your choice at reenlistment, and which right had been denied you by officers high in rank. You are the only one of the veterans who re-enlisted in the field who has not been home to see your friends, and now here you are, with furlough and transportation in your hand, and yet you hesitate about going home."

Bolton still stubborn, said: "Colonel, you seem to be in a hurry to get rid of me. Why won't you let me remain until tomorrow?' ' Colonel Splaine said: "Now, no more nonsense about it. Start for that train and go home and see your friends while you have the opportunity to do so. This may be a very long march and as we go into the interior, circumstances may arise which will destroy your chances of ever enjoying that furlough among your friends." Bolton said: "Ah, colonel, I know what the trouble is. You know that we are going to have a battle and don't want me to take part in it, for you fear that I might not go home to my friends with a whole skin."No, No, Bolton. I simply want you to go home on your well-earned furlough, and now start for the train."

Bolton, still declining to take the advice of his commander, said he preferred to wait until the morrow. Colonel Splaine, feeling for the poor fellow, thought he would tell him something that would send him running for the train. He said: "Well, Charley, I may as well tell you — but you must not tell anybody else we fight tomorrow, and therefore I want you to go right home and enjoy your furlough." Bolton looked at his commander a moment, and then said: "I won't go home, but will stay with my comrades and help them to fight it out.' '

He stayed with his command, and on the morrow, in Splaine's old veteran company, Bolton had all the fighting he wanted. At one time during the day, when his company and others had captured a piece of cannon from the enemy, his command was overpowered and compelled to make a hasty retreat. Bolton, among others, was badly wounded, and in order to save himself, crawled under the bank of a stream, where he laid twenty -two hours, partly immersed in the water, and when found by his comrades next day, was more dead than alive. During his hiding he did not dare to call for help, fearing that such calls would bring enemies instead of friends.

The surgeon said it was fortunate that Bolton's wounded limb had lain in the water so long, as the chill produced by the water probably saved his life, but it was probable that amputation of the leg would become a necessity. As time went on, however, the surgeon concluded that the wounded man was doing so well that he had hopes of his recovery without having to resort to amputation.

After many weeks Bolton was so far restored to health that he was sent home on an indefinite furlough, — not his veteran furlough, and was finally discharged with honor from the army in which he had so bravely served.

Charles S. Bolton was a brave soldier, and later became an honorable citizen of Roxbury, Mass. He served for many years as superintendent of Faneuil Hall, but up to the day of his death was not free from suffering on account of his wound, and was compelled to wear crutches all the time. He is survived by a son, Hon. Fred E. Bolton, who is well-known among prominent Bostonians, and who, at this writing, is one of the principal assessors of Boston.

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