Researcher: Allyson Baker
William H. Thomas was a Civil War soldier who served in the 18th Massachusetts regiment, company I, and was born in 1841. He lived through the war and had a job as a shoe factory worker after that. He eventually married a Seraphina A. Deming who was born in 1841 as well. His father-in-law was Augustus Deming, who was a shoe maker born in 1812. Augustus’ wife was Harriet M. Deming, who was born in 1818. His father’s name was Sandris Thomas.
He was mustered in July 1861, at 20 years old at Reedville and Boston. His rank in was a private, and rank out was also a private. His regiment left for Washington, D.C. on August 28. The regiment ended, and consolidated with the 32nd Massachusetts on October 21, 1864. Though he switched and became a veteran of the 2nd heavy artillery after this. During service 9 officers and 114 men were killed or mortally wounded. Furthermore, 127 men were lost by disease, with a total of 227 men.
The regiment was active in many battles throughout the Civil War. Among these there was Yorktown, Bull Run, Antietam, Shepherdstown, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and the Wilderness. Though they day after they were mustered they marched to Washington, D.C. and attached to Fort Corcoran, Defenses of Washington. Their role in the Anaconda Plan was to defend their capital from the invaders of the Rebel states. Soon after Washington, in October, 1861, they were attached to Martindale’s Brigade, who was a Union general.
The regiment marched to Manassas, Virginia from March 10 to March 16, 1861. They were not involved in an actual battle until the Second Battle of Bull Run, which had a high number of casualties. From there they continued to Antietam, Maryland. This battle had one of the highest casualty rates, though the 18th regiment did not actually fight in this battle. The casualties were expected to be 26,000 but it was an inconclusive victory.
This group of courageous men were also in the great Battle of Gettysburg, which was one of the defining moments in the Civil War for the North. Lee would never dare to come North again. Though this was one of the greatest battles, the role that the 18th MA played was a rather insignificant one.
They were in reserve for the majority of the battle and only suffered one casualty.
Towards the later years of the war, the 18th MA could be found somewhere near Washington, D.C. fighting small battles with Confederate Armies and defending the capital. Thomas fought for what he believed in, and he wanted to keep the Union together and fight for his country. He was a brave man, and even lived through the many significant battles that the 18th MA fought in. In the 1901 census of Franklin, he was said to have one cow and one horse, totaling $50. His taxes came to $2.80, which would be quite a lot at that time. He would have been 60 at that time, and the life expectancy was anywhere from fifties to seventies. It can be assumed that he lived for a little while after that, if he was able to live through the war, though there is not necessarily a record.