Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Finding Private Lamprey: the sequel

My wife Monique and I took a walk in Blossom Hill Cemetery in Concord on Monday to find the grave of Pvt. Horace A. Lamprey of the 2nd New Hampshire Volunteers. It was a perfect day for such a mission, with maple leaves crunching underfoot but some trees still in the orange-yellow splendor of the season.

The Lamprey family stone at Blosson Hill Cemetery.
When we set out, I had just posted the story of Lamprey’s wounding on June 25, 1862, in a little-known battle on the Virginia Peninsula. He died the next day on a hospital ship.

Jim Tamposi, who came to my Civil War talk at the Temple Historical Society last week, shared a photo of the temporary wooden marker originally planted over Lamprey’s grave in Virginia. He found it for sale in a glass case at a memorabilia shop in Gettysburg. My educated guess is that the pine board was placed on Lamprey’s grave in the cemetery in Yorktown just before Union troops evacuated the place. George B. McClellan’s grand retreat began in earnest the day Lamprey died.

A severe head wound felled Horace Lamprey
 on June 25. He died the next day on a hospital
ship and was originally buried in Virginia.
A note with the temporary grave marker in the Gettysburg shop said that Lamprey’s family had managed to have his body dug up and returned home to Concord. With the help of Jill McDaniel, Concord’s cemetery administrator, Monique and I easily found him at Blossom Hill.

He is in good company there. For one thing, he had many brothers and sisters. He is buried in the same 15-by-20-foot plot as nine other members of his immediate family. He was the third child buried by his parents, Ephraim and Bridget Lamprey, who died a week apart in 1884 at the ages of 84 and 82. Three of the brothers in the plot were also Civil War veterans – Maurice in the 10th New Hampshire and later the Signal Corps, Austin in the 13th and Clarence in the 18th. (The grave should have an American flag, as do those of many veterans around it.)

The fifth Lamprey brother to serve, Maitland, is buried elsewhere. He left Dartmouth College in 1862 to join the 16th New Hampshire, a nine-month regiment. He survived the regiment’s sickening experience in the swamps of Louisiana, the story of which is told in Our War, but came home so ill he could not work for two years. Dartmouth gave him his degree in 1863 despite his early departure. Once he was well again, he began a career as an educator, culminating in a 24-year tenure as  high school principal in North Easton, Mass.

The stone erected by the 2nd NH for Harriet P. Dame
The good company Horace Lamprey keeps on Blossom Hill extends beyond his family. The Lampreys are buried just a few yards from the mausoleum of two prominent Concord abolitionists and philanthropists, Nathaniel and Armenia White. The mausoleum sits on a hillock and is the size of a small house. The Whites’ New Year's party in 1863 celebrating the Emancipation Proclamation is featured in Our War. Nathaniel was a founder of the American Express Co, but the Whites are best known in Concord for the vast central city park named for them. Armenia conveyed the parkland to the city after Nathaniel’s death.

Maybe 75 yards up the road from Horace is the monument that veterans of the 2nd New Hampshire Volunteers installed to honor Harriet P. Dame. She was the 2nd’s nurse and helper throughout the war. The 3rd Corps’s diamond-shaped emblem tops the monument.

Part of my fondness for Blossom Hill, which slopes upward from the Lamprey grave to a northward facing ridge, derives from my past life as a newspaper editor in Concord. Many of my predecessors lie here. Three of them are Isaac Hill of the New Hampshire Patriot, a member of Andrew Jackson’s Kitchen Cabinet; Asa McFarland, whose gravestone bears the nameplate of his newspaper, the New Hampshire Statesman; and my favorite, George Gilman Fogg, editor of the Independent Democrat and, for a brief span, the Concord Monitor, which I edited for 30 years.

Hill was Mr. Democrat.
Hill and Fogg were strong-willed polemicists in an age of partisan newspapering. As both an editor and a U.S. senator, Hill was a staunch Democrat with southern sympathies. He ruled the New Hampshire party until Franklin Pierce took the reins in the 1840s.

Fogg became the voice of New Hampshire Democrats who broke with the party over the extension of slavery and eventually merged with Whigs and Know-Nothings to form the Republican Party. He took a staunchly antislavery line during a time when only a slight minority held this position. Fogg attended the 1860 Chicago convention that nominated Abraham Lincoln and traveled to Springfield with others to deliver the news to Lincoln. He later served as U.S. minister to Switzerland.

George Gilman Fogg's monument
Fogg has one of my favorite epitaphs of all time. In fancy letters across the top of his stone, almost unreadable now, is a mysterious quotation from Solomon 2:17: “Until the day break and the shadows flee away.” Farther down the stone are these words commemorating Fogg: “A faithful advocate of equal liberty and exact justice to all men without distinction of race or color.”

One more sidelight to the Lamprey saga: Maurice S. Lamprey, the 10th New Hampshire veteran, became a photographer, working first in Fisherville (now Penacook), a village of Concord, and later in Manchester. Maurice lived until 1912 and is buried two spots from brother Horace. Here are two of the scenic river stereoviews he made in Fisherville and the backmark from one of them.

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