Researcher: Camryn Marini
Coming from small towns all over the state of Massachusetts, soldiers during the Civil War period may have been the farmer down the street, the blacksmith, or the shoe maker; but even as small town citizens, these soldiers became the nations’ heroes. One of those soldiers willing to fight for the Union was a Milford boot maker by the name of George C. White. Officially tied to the 11th regiment, company E of Massachusetts, White enlisted on the day of June 13th, 1861 as a private.
As an immigrant, George C. White was born on July 2nd, 1836 in Ireland from his British and Irish native parents. After immigrating to the United States, White married Mary, living in Milford until about 1880. Before enlisting, George worked as a laborer making boots in the town factory. Then in 1852, Mary and George had their first child, Charles H. White. About nine years later, White had then enlisted in the 11th regiment, where he unfortunately deserted 12 days later at Camp Cameron in North Cambridge. Death was the punishment for this crime, where 1 in every 7 Union soldier deserted. Fleeing the death sentence, it is believed that George enlisted again into the 28th regiment company K on November 11th, 1861.
The 28th regiment was mainly composed of men of Irish descent, carrying the nickname of “Faugh-a-ballagh,” an Irish war cry. Mustered out on December 13th, 1861, White departed Camp Cameron and left for Fort Columbus on January 11th, 1862. More training for the 28th was completed here under the General, T. W. Sherman. After training, the Irish embarked to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina where the regiment joined the 1st Brigade of Gen. I. I. Stevens’ Division. However, on June 16th at the battle on James Island, White was wounded, along with 70 others in his regiment. Moving onto July, the Boston men then joined General Pope, fighting in the 2nd Bull Run on August 29th. The 2nd Bull Run did heavy damage to the 28th, losing 135 of their men, and later on at Antietam (September 17), losing 48.
After acquiring a new commander, the 28th joined with the 116th of Pennsylvania, along with the other Irish of the Union. The following December, at the battle of Fredericksburg, the regiment then lost 110 men where they were in constant fire. Leading up to Gettysburg on July 13th, White was wounded and captured, while the 28th stayed in Stevensburg, Virginia until May.
Now under the reign of U.S. Grant, the Irish fought in the Battle of the Wilderness, fighting until their ammunition was gone on May 10th. Two days later, the Irish fought again, coming in at the Bloody Angle in Spotsylvania, losing 125 men, and at Cold Harbor, 57. The regiment then suffered severely until August 25th. Throughout all these battles and wounds, George C. was mustered out on December 19th, 1864.
Back in his small town of Milford, the White family had another child, Katie in 1867. Pushing into the 1880’s the White family had moved to Franklin, where Katie went to school, Charles and George worked on boots, and Mary tended to the house. Dying a year later of dropsy on January 12, 1881 (aged 45); George’s family was put onto the poor list in 1885. With the death of his wife Mary in 1904, the White family is currently marked at the Beaver Street Cemetery in Franklin Massachusetts. A Franklin boot maker, a husband, a father, a son, George C. White was also one of the nation’s heroes, making the U.S into what it is known as today.