William H Cody
Contrary to what Americans love to believe, not all the stories of Civil War soldiers were filled with great deeds or glory in battle. Some soldiers did their duty even if it meant they would not have epic stories of sacrifice and honor to tell to their grandchildren years after the war. Some Union soldier did the jobs that are not written about in history books that students learn from in school. Some soldiers did their less epic duty knowing that no lengthy biography would be made to honor what they did. Even those “average” men deserve to have their honorable stories told.
William H. Cody was your average American in the Pre-Civil War age. He was a carder, mill worker. He was no cadet at the legendary United States Military Academy at West Point or a career military man. He did, however, believe in the great Union that the Founding Fathers fought for. He was willing to give up his job and leave his family to join in the great crusade to save the Union. In October of 1862 William H. Cody joined the 46th Massachusetts Volunteer Militia Company K in Springfield, Massachusetts. He signed up for nine months of active duty. The regiment’s leader was Rev. George Bowler who was the regiment’s founder.
The regiment left for Boston where it took transport to Newborn, North Carolina. There it was assigned to Col. H. C. Lee’s Brigade. Cody’s company was assigned to guard the important railroad from Newborn to Beaufort. This railroad was the Union Army’s link to reinforcements and supplies. In December of that year Cody saw his first glimpse of battle when the regiment joined in Foster’s Expedition to Goldsboro. During this expedition the 46th was lightly engaged at the battles of Kinston, Whitehall, and Goldsboro. Though the regiments 1,131 soldiers were engaged in these battles they lost only 1 man. Cody and his fellow soldiers fought the less known war over supply routes. He first guarded the railroad at Newbern and then fought to destroy Confederate supply lines during Foster’s Expedition to Goldsboro. After nine months of war the 46th Massachusetts returned home and was mustered out of service on July 29.
After the war William Cody returned to his occupation of a carder and lived on Pleasant Road in Medway, Massachusetts. In 1893 he moved to Alpine Place where he lived with Mrs. W. H. Cody and then later lived With William G. Cody. He became a carder at Wait’s Mill. William H. Cody did not play a heroic role in the Civil War like other soldiers did, but he did do his duty in support of the cause that all the Union soldiers fought for. He did not die a heroic death or fight on a legendary battlefield, but William H. Cody should forever be remembered by the residents of Franklin as an American who did his duty and became a different kind of hero.
“46th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry (Militia).” Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System.
National Park Service. 23 May 2005<>.
“Forty-Sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Militia (Infantry).” Massachusetts Civil War
Research Center. 1999. MassachusettsCivilWar.com. 17 May 2005
Illustrated Resident and Business Directory of Franklin and Bellingham Massachusetts for 1893.
Norwood: Foss and Berry Publishing, 1893.
“U.S. Census of 1890.” Ancestry.com. Copyright 1998-2005. Myfamily.com Inc. 18 May 2005