Who could have thought an engineer in the telephone industry could have made a difference in the Civil War? Norman Hastings, a 46 year old male from the small town of Franklin, Massachusetts of the 45th regiment, enlisted in September of 1862 to fight for the North. Norman grew up in Vermont where he lived most of his adolescent life helping his father Nathaniel in the fields and with the farming responsibilities. Growing up, Norman was educated and knew how to learn and write at a young age. Even with education at a young age, Norman never continued his studies or went to college.
At the age of 29, he fell in love and got married. Later, they decided to move to Franklin Massachusetts and that’s where they were residing when the war between the north and the south started. September of 1862 rolled around and the war started. Norman signed up and was enlisted to the 45th regiment of Massachusetts Infantry in Company “C”. Lead by Col. Codman they left the banks of Trent (near Newbern) on Dec 12, 1862. On the 12th, he set off onto Forester’s Expedition to Goldsboro and 2 days later they fought the battle of Kinston.
The battle of Kinston was fought in Lenoir County, during the Goldsboro Expedition campaign, headed by Brigade General John G. Foster and Brigade general Nathan Evans. They engaged in warfare with the Department of North Carolina 1st division which ended in a Union Victory. This battle was significant to Norman and the rest of his regiment because it was their first battle and the outcome was in their favor. It gave all of them a boost of confidence because now they know that they can be successful in this war and potentially lead the north to beat the south in this civil war that has broken out.
Over the next two days Norman found himself in the middle of battle once again. The 16th he fought at Whitehall and the next day Goldsboro. When Norman reached Whitehall, the Southern troops were holding the banks of the Neuse River. The South had Robertson’s Brigade as their primary defense on The Neuse River and for most of the Day the Union seemed to have the edge. By the end of the day and 150 casualties later, the battle was over and the winner was inconclusive.
Moving on from the Battle at Whitehall, the 45th Massachusetts regiment found themselves in Wayne County at the railroad near Everettsville where they came head to head with Clingman’s brigade and once again the Department of North Carolina 1st division. Cligmans’s brigade wasn’t very effective in stopping Norman and his regiment from continuing south on their campaign, just delaying them and causing an inconvenience.
To Norman, the Battle of Goldsboro wasn’t very significant. The battle was only a simple and easy win for the Union and only caused deaths to their regiment, about 220 soldiers died in that battle.
Over the next year, Norman had it easy. His regiment didn’t fight any more battles but was assigned post guard at Newbern from January 26th to April 25th. From there, they moved on to the south side of the Neuse River where they started their Expedition to Kingston. The work that they did over the next year was easy because no more casualties were dying from war or battles. The regiment stayed intact until November 29 1862 when company “C” detached and was sent home.
Norman didn’t do much fighting in his role in the 45th Massachusetts regiment. He signed up to help support his country and fight for the Union side, but didn’t see much action on the battlefield. The first month was the busiest for them; they were untrained and not prepared for what was to come in the next week. They fought 3 major battles and won two of them for the Union. The next year and a half he spent on post watch and traveling from one place to another.
In Boston Harbor June 27th 1863, on the return trip home, Norman Hastings died of disease. Norman served the Union very well and contributed to two wins for them, and as it was over and he was sent home, he died a tragic death.