Researcher: Monique Stone
Horace Pillsbury, a Franklin, Massachusetts native, served the Union during the Civil War. Born in 1843, Pillsbury worked in a hat mill in Franklin until he was recruited on August 24, 1861. At the age of eighteen, Pillsbury left Franklin. As part of the 18th Massachusetts, Company I, Pillsbury served for two years and eleven days. This brave journey began on August 24, 1861 when volunteers met in Dedham, Massachusetts. The president called these men into three years of service under the control of Colonel James Barnes.
The 18th started their work when they were stationed at Hall’s Hill, Virginia for all of January and February of 1862. The 18th was relocated to Camp Winfield Scott a similar camp in Virginia. While marching from Hall’s Hill to Camp Winfield, the regiment was at Hunter’s Creek as a resting area and was called to defend Yorktown. On April 5, 1682 the regiment arrived and was in front of the defenses. They were able to help support a Union battery. Though they were only there for the first day of the battle, it lasted until May 4. Though the most action occurred on April 16 when Union forces killed approximately 309 men, the 18th was not present. They had continued on towards Camp Winfield Scott. On June 28, 1862 the men were able to see the White House. Immediately this helped to lift any sullen spirits because the men felt even closer to uniting the nation and truly realized how important it was to continue serving the country. June 30th the regiment was collected by the orders of General Silias Casey.
Between July and August of 1862, the men were once again stationed at Hall’s Hill Virginia. While encamped there, the men continued to march throughout the state of Virginia including the locations Williamsburg, Yorktown, Centreville, Falmouth, and Rappahannock Station. On August 30th the 18th Massachusetts marched to Bull Run and fought in the Second Battle of Bull Run. There, General Thomas J. Jackson of the Confederacy wanted to draw General John Pope’s troops into an army battle. Jackson ordered an attack on a column that was passing over the local turnpike. They fought at Brawner Farm for many hours and the fighting ended in a stalemate. On August 29th Pope attacked Jackson’s troops and resulted in many deaths. Eventually, the Union forces were diminished when after attacking Jackson’s troops; a flank of Confederate soldiers that Pope was unaware of attacked them. The Second Bull run resulted in Confederate victory and the loss of 22,180 men.
September 16, the 18th Massachusetts marched to the battleground of Antietam where they remained in reserve, ready to fight and reinforce the troops who were fighting. Even though the 18th Massachusetts did not fight in the Battle of Antietam, they were present at the battlefield, awaiting orders for action. The Battle of Antietam was the bloodiest day in the history of The United States. Because it was fought in Maryland on a cornfield, almost every shot was a kill and it resulted in the death of 23,100 men within twenty-four hours. Lee finally withdrew his troops and it was considered a Union strategic victory even though the battle was determined inconclusive.
December 11th, the troops marched from their new camp at Harper’s Ferry to Rappahannock, a town opposite of Fredericksburg. There, they remained on the battlefield December 13th and 14th and fought the entire night. On the 13th, the Union’s left flank was able to penetrate Jackson’s line but was driven away with a counterattack. This battle was a Confederate victory and resulted in approximately 17,929 casualties. The battle ended on December 15th even though the 18th only fought for the first two days.
In May of 1863, the Massachusetts 18th engaged in the battle of Chancellorsville. The battle of Chancellorsville took place from April 30th to May 6th and resulted in approximately 24,000 deaths. Union General Joseph Hooker led his troops to the Confederate flanks that were crossing the Rappahannock River. Confederate General Robert E. Lee marched and confronted the Union troops. Hooker’s army moved towards them and experienced many difficulties. Finally, in combat, Thomas Jackson’s troops lead an overwhelming attack and destroyed a Union Corps. On May 3rd, Union General Berry and Union General Whipple were killed. Also, Confederate General Jackson was mortally wounded. The battle of Chancellorsville was a Confederate victory and resulted in a moral defeat for both sides due to the fatalities of their leaders.
The last battle Horace Pillsbury participated in was the battle of Gettysburg. During this battle, Robert E. Lee put his full strength against Union General George G. Meade’s army July 2nd and 3rd of 1863. July 2nd, Lee attempted defeat the Union by striking the left and right flank. This worked but Lee’s troops suffered severe casualties and were not able to continue defending themselves. There were approximately 51,000 deaths at the battle of Gettysburg and it resulted in a Union victory.
Even though minimal personal information is traceable about Horace W. Pillsbury, he was a strong man and a brave solider who served his country when it was most needed. His desire to unite the country and preserve the United States of America was greatly appreciated by the citizens of the country. On September 4, 1863 Pillsbury’s time in the war came to an end when he was discharged with battle wounds. Pillsbury was one of millions of men who fought in the Civil War. His services and duties are still greatly appreciated. His willingness to fight and defend his country prevailed his wish of good health and he was able to preserve and help re-unify the nation.