Researcher: Patrick McCauley
In the year 1862, the nation was in an uproar. The Civil War was in full swing, and its direct effect had made its way to the state of Massachusetts. One of the people affected was John B. Whiting. A resident of Franklin Massachusetts, John left his town to fight for his country. The war may not have had a major effect on the life of Whiting, but in the wave of patriotism that swept the country, he joined the United States Army.
Before the war John had been a single man, who made his living as a farmer. He was born March 16, 1814 to Sydney and Olive Whiting as one of seven children. The Whiting family was one of the founding families of Franklin, and many of its members were still residing in Franklin when the war broke out. John enlisted in October of 1862, at the age of forty seven. He joined the 45th regiment of the Massachusetts Infantry, Company C. He enlisted as a private at Camp Meigs near present day Hyde Park. John and the 45th stayed at Camp Meigs for almost a month while recruiting more men. From Camp Meigs, Whiting and the 45th left for Morehead City, North Carolina on the steamboat “Mississippi.” Their Journey took from November 5th to the 14th. At Morehead City the 45th was attached to the third brigade, first division of North Carolina, then to the second brigade, fourth division of the 18th Army Corps.
Whiting’s service consisted of several months of inactivity, followed by a taste of real battle. After their arrival at Morehead City, they were transported by train to Newbern, North Carolina. At Newbern, the troops of the Department of North Carolina, including the 45th, were organized and designated the 18th Army Corps under the command of General J.G. Foster. Whiting and the 45th made camp near Fort Gaston on the Trent River. They were stationed there until December 12, when Company C was detached and sent on special assignment to Morehead City. They remained in Morehead City till they reunited with the 18th Corps on December 21. The next major battle Whiting witnessed was the Confederate attack on Newbern on March 14. The 45th was at the battle but was never called into action. After the battle at Newbern Whiting participated in only one skirmish, which occurred at a railroad crossing on the Goldsboro line. The 45th fought the Confederates at Dover Road, a battle at which they lost one man and had four men wounded. This encounter was the first and last battle the 45th and Whiting would participate in. After their deployment on the railroad Whiting and Company C returned to camp near Fort Spinola on the Trent River. They remained at their camp until June 24, 1863 at which time Whiting and the 45th departed from Morehead City back to Boston. They arrived in Boston, and were formally welcomed on June 30. After their arrival Whiting returned to Camp Meigs, where he stayed until he was honorably discharged on July 8, 1863.
After the war Whiting returned to Franklin. On July 3, 1867, at age 52 he was married to Margaret Heaney of Wrentham, a twenty eight year old Irish immigrant. From 1867 till his death in 1886, John and his wife continued to live in Franklin. They had no children, so upon his death on May 11, 1886 John was survived by his wife. His cause of death is listed as consumption, a tubercular disease common at the time. John B. Whiting’s dedication to preserving the Union will be forever etched into the history of Franklin.