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George W. Nason

Researcher: Chris Toney

          In 1834, George W. Nason Jr. was born in Massachusetts. On April 19th, 1861 he showed his patriotic spirit by joining Company I of the Fifth Regiment. The company was from Massachusetts and served only three months until on July 31st it was discharged. He later reenlisted, this time joining the Twenty-third Massachusetts Regiment for three years until January 4, 1862. Nason went on to become Colonel of Fire Department Regiment on May 2, 1864. June 23, 1865 he concluded his military service when he was honorably discharged from the Fire Department Regiment. Although the Fifth Regiment of Massachusetts was only around for three months, it was involved in one of the earliest and bloodiest battles of the Civil War. The Battle of Bull run took place in Manassas, Virginia with estimated casualties of around 4,700 with 2,950 being Union and 1,750 being Confederate. This was a significant battle because it was the first major land battle and also set the tone for the war. Both the North and South began to realize it would be a long, costly war contrary to what they had believed earlier. It was important that the Fifth Regiment of Massachusetts was at the battle of Bull Run because it was a fight where every man mattered. The Union forces that went to Bull Run were following the step of the Anaconda Plan which was to capture the Confederate capital in Richmond, Virginia. The most important part of Bull Run was that it set the tone for the war and although the Union lost the battle, Bull Run helped prepare the Union for future fights.

          After the Fifth Regiment of Massachusetts was mustered out August 1, 1861, Nason decided to join the Twenty-third Regiment of Massachusetts. The Twenty-third Regiment of Massachusetts lasted three years and partook in about twelve battles. One of the early battles the Twenty-third was involved in was Roanoke Island. The campaign was Burnside’s North Carolina Expedition and it was an amphibious operation. Of the 10,500 men that fought at Roanoke, about 7,500 were Union soldiers. Roanoke Island was a success for the Union and was most likely part of the Anaconda Plan that called for a blockade of the Southern coast. Another less successful but more important battle involving the Twenty-third Regiment of Massachusetts was Cold Harbor. Two key leaders of the Civil War fought against each other at Cold Harbor. They were Generals Ulysses S. Grant for the Union and Robert E. Lee for the Confederacy. The battle began after Sheridan’s Union cavalry took the vital crossroads of Old Cold Harbor. Sheridan’s men successfully threw back an attacking Confederate cavalry, relying heavily on shallow trenches in which his men hid. Fighting continued for a few days with reinforcements arriving for both sides until on June 2 both armies met on the field. Grant successfully destroyed three of the Unions corps to help win the battle for the Confederacy. The battle at Cold Harbor was an example of the Anaconda Plan that was to capture the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia. Of the 170,000 men that fought at Cold Harbor about 15,500 died.

          According to the History of Franklin, on January 4, 1862 George W. Nason Jr. was appointed Commissary and Storekeeper in the fleet with Burnside’s expedition at Annapolis, Md. Then on March 20th Nason was transferred to the Provost Marshal Department at Newbern, N.C. The final years of Nason’s service he spent as Colonel of the Fire Department Regiment. The Fire Department Regiment was used as both a regular infantry and also fire fighters for Government stores at Newbern. It was important that they protected the buildings from rebel incendiaries. Nason served as Colonel of the Fire Department Regiment until on June 23, 1805 he was honorably discharged. After leaving the Fire Department Regiment, Nason retired from the army.

                An 1880 United States Federal Census suggests that Nason became an auctioneer-real estate agent after the war. It also stated he was a forty-six year old widower living under the household of his father Peace B. Nason. Both Nason’s father and mother were born in Massachusetts the state he had honorably represented during the Civil War. In 1880 a few years after the war Nason was living in Franklin, Norfolk, Massachusetts. That is where George W. Nason Jr.’s history ends as a Civil War soldier and Massachusetts resident. Nason most likely died around 1900. During his life he served fewer than three different regiments finding success in battle and helping to contribute to the Union’s success in the Civil War. In the end Nason turned out to be a true war hero who honorably represented his state and country to preserve the Union.

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