Researcher: Allyson Baker
William H. Thomas was a Civil War soldier who served in the 18th
Massachusetts regiment, company I, and was born in 1841. He lived through
the war and had a job as a shoe factory worker after that. He eventually
married a Seraphine A. Deming who was born in 1841 as well. His
father-in-law was Augustus Deming, who was a shoe maker born in 1812.
Augustus’ wife was Harriet M. Deming, who was born in 1818. His father’s
name was Sandris Thomas.
He was mustered in July 1861, at 20 years old at Readville and Boston. His
rank in was a private, and rank out was also a private. His regiment left
for Washington, D.C. on August 28. The regiment ended, and consolidated with
the 32nd Massachusetts on October 21, 1864. Though he switched and became a
veteran of the 2nd heavy artillery after this. During service 9 officers and
114 men were killed or mortally wounded. Furthermore, 127 men were lost by
disease, with a total of 227 men.
The regiment was active in many battles throughout the Civil War. Among
these there was Yorktown, Bull Run, Antietam, Shepherdstown, Fredricksburg,
Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness. Though they day after they
were mustered they marched to Washington, D.C. and attached to Fort
Corcoran, Defenses of Washington. Their role in the Anaconda Plan was to
defend their capital from the invaders of the Rebel states. Soon after
Washington, in October, 1861, they were attached to Martindale’s Brigade,
who was a Union general.
The regiment marched to Manassas, Virginia on March 10-16, 1861. They were
not involved in an actual battle until the Second Battle of Bull Run, which
had a high number of casualties. From there they continued to Antietam,
Maryland. This battle had one of the highest casualty rates, though the 18th
regiment did not actually fight in this battle. The casualties were expected
to be 26,000 but it was an inconclusive victory.
This group of courageous men were also in the great Battle of Gettysburg,
which was one of the defining moments in the Civil War for the North. Lee
would never dare to come North again. Though this was one of the greatest
battles, the role that the 18th MA played was a rather insignificant one.
They were in reserve for the majority of the battle and only suffered one
Towards the later years of the war the 18th MA could be found somewhere
near Washington, D.C. fighting small battles with Confederate Armies and
defending the capital. Thomas fought for what he believed in, and he wanted
to keep the Union together and fight for his country. He was a brave man,
and even lived through the many significant battles that the 18th MA fought
in. In the 1901 census of Franklin, he was said to have one cow and one
horse, totaling $50. His taxes came to $2.80, which would be quite a lot at
that time. He would have been 60 at that time, and the life expectancy was
anywhere from fifties to seventies. It can be assumed that he lived for a
little while after that, if he was able to live through the war, though
there is not necessarily a record.