Newmarket natives Stephen H. and Clara (Demeritt) Davis saw their son Alfred, and four grandsons – George, William, Freeman, and James L. march off to war, all of whom served in Company E, 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Only James survived – but his life was short-lived. Wounded, a prisoner of war, he only lived to age 31 when he died of consumption, believed brought on by conditions in the Confederate prison. All five servicemen were born in Newmarket and served together in the same fighting Company. The extended family (except for George) were all boot makers and moved from Newmarket before the start of the War to the Leicester, Massachussetts area and lived in a section of Rochdale that was known then as Clappville. Alfred’s parents Stephen H. Davis (a farmer) and Clara (Demeritt) Davis were farmers who had previously worked in the cotton mills. Stephen died on 30 Jul 1863 at Leicester, of dropsy at age 62. Clara, his mother outlived all but her grandson James, and died on 7 Jun 1866 at Leicester, Massachusetts, of consumption at age 67.
(b.1834, d. 1862) was born in Newmarket and married at the time of his enlistment. He signed in from Leicester, MA where he listed his employment as both a shoemaker and a gun maker. At age 28, he enlisted as a Private on 6 Jun 1862 and mustered in at the beginning of August. He was credited to the Leicester, MA. The next month on 22 Sep 1862 he was engaged in battle at Antietam and wounded in the mouth; he died the same day from that wound, and is buried at Antietam National Battlefield Site # 954, Sharpsburg, MD.
He had married Eliza Jane Bonzey, 17, daughter of Zenas Lockwood Bonzey and Betsey A. Waters, at Oxford, MA, in a first marriage for both on 16 Jul 1859. She filed for a Widow’s pension 18 Apr 1863. They had one son, Albert F.B. Davis.
(photo: Monument to 15th Massachusetts Infantry at Antietam)
Alfred Warren Davis and James E. Sheppard, future brothers-in-law, both married Bonzy girls, and both served together in the 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. On 9 Nov 1862 Alfred’s second son, George Perley Davis, was born in Leicester, two months after his father’s death. On 18 Apr 1863 Eliza Jane Bonzey received a pension as surviving family member based on Alfred’s service. On 1 Oct 1863 his infant son, George Perley Davis, died at Millbury, MA.
On 10 Dec 1863 Alfred’s widow, Eliza remarried to Albert Thomas Burt at Millbury, MA, in a first marriage for him and the second for her. On 7 Mar 1864 at Probate Office, Worcester, Albert Thomas Burt applied to be named guardian of Alfred W. Davis, Jr., and the request was granted. After Albert’s death in 1880, Eliza re-married a third time to Zenas Waterman and outlived him. She died on 30 Jan 1934 at Taunton, Bristol County, Massachusetts, at age 91.
Alfred Warren Davis Sr. was included on the Civil War memorials at Leicester, and Oxford, MA.; and on 17 Sep 1900 he was included on the Civil War memorial at Antietam Battlefield, Sharpsburg, Maryland, as having died of his wounds received at the battle.
George, William, Freeman, and James were born to Alfred’s brother, Stephen H. jr (a worker in the cotton mills) and Clarissa (b. 1822, d. 10 Aug 1863) . They learned their trade from their mother, herself a boot maker. On 26 Mar 1866 Clarissa received a pension as surviving mother, based on William’s service. She died 10 Aug 1863.
On 11 Jun 1855 George P. Davis (b.1831, d. 1864) married Mary E. Morse (b.1837), daughter of David M. Morse and Eliza Smith, at Charlton, MA. George P. Davis was enumerated in the household of David M. Morse and Eliza Smith in the 1860 US Federal Census on 30 Jul 1860 at Charlton with his in-laws as an auger maker.
On 12 Jul 1861 George mustered into service with the 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, being credited to the quota of Charlton, Worcester County, Massachusetts. On 30 Oct 1861 at “The Worcester Spy”, Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, George P. Davis was included among “The Killed Wounded and Missing of the Fifteenth Regiment,” after Ball’s Bluff.
(photo: Union Army forced retreat into Potomac River, Battle of Ball’s Bluff)
On 20 Nov 1861 at “The Worcester Daily Spy”, reported that “George P. Davis was listed among the prisoners taken at Ball’s Bluff. Once released from prison, and discharged with a disability, on 5 Jan 1864, George reenlisted, having received a bounty of $86. On 8 May 1864 both he and his brother Freeman Davis, died at The Battle of the Wilderness, Orange County, Virginia.
On 3 May 1861 Mary E. Morse, his wife, died at Charlton, MA, of consumption, and on 22 Oct 1868 David M. Morse, George’s father-in-law, made application for and was granted a pension as guardian to George’s surviving dependent, Alice (b.4 Dec 1855, d. 29 Feb 1888) and Adeline M, ( b. 11 Sep 1859, d. before 1920). George P. Davis was included on the Civil War memorial at Dexter Memorial Hall, Charlton, MA as well as included on the Civil War memorial at Oxford, MA.
(b.24 Sep 1838, d.12 Mar 1862) was a resident of Leicester, MA and his service was credited to that town. Single, at age 23 he enlisted as a Private in the same Company with his brother Freeman on 12 July 1861. He also engaged in action at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff on 21 Oct, 1861, but taken prisoner and held at the notorious Libby Prison. Paroled late Feb 1862, he died at home 12 Mar 1862 at age 24 of consumption contracted as a prisoner of war. William M. Davis was included on the Civil War memorial at Leicester, Worcester County, Massachusetts.
Newspaper accounts of the period declared him missing in action on 21 Oct 1861 at The Battle of Ball’s Bluff, Leesburg, Virginia, “He was taken prisoner at Ball’s Bluff on October 21, 1861 and was held at Libby Prison, Richmond, VA. He was paroled in mid-late February 1862 and returned home to Leicester.” On 30 Oct 1861 at “The Worcester Spy”, Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, William M. Davis was included among “The Killed Wounded and Missing of the Fifteenth Regiment,” after Ball’s Bluff. On 20 Nov 1861 at “The Worcester Daily Spy”, Worcester, Worcester County, Massachusetts, William M. Davis was listed among the prisoners taken at Ball’s Bluff. On 22 Feb 1862 at “The New York Times”, New York City, New York, William M. Davis was mentioned in an article about the return of prisoners under a flag of truce.
At the Battle of Ball’s Bluff near Leesburg, VA. across the Potomac River from Poolesville, MD., Pvt. William Davis and his brother Freeman were taken prisoner. They were held at Libby Prison in Richmond, VA. and were both paroled that following February. Prison parolees were generally in poor health and William Davis returned home with tuberculosis. He died at home in Clappville in March, 1862 just a couple of weeks after being paroled. His funeral was held on March 12, 1862 and he was laid to rest at Greenville Baptist Cemetery, Pleasant St., Rochdale. His grave is in the lower back corner closest to the Greenville Pond dam with a marker noting that he was “Starved at Libby Prison.”
(b.1842, d. 8 May 1864) enlisted at age 19 on 12 July 1861 as a private in Company E, 15th MA Infantry. He was wounded in his side at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff and taken prisoner with
his brother William and transported to Libby prison.
(photo: Libby Prison)
He was paroled in Feb 1863 and discharged on a disability 14 May 1863. A year later, he reenlisted from Leicester, MA on 10 June1864, and was promoted to Corporal in Company F, 57th MA Infantry for a $325 bounty as Corporal, and credited to Bolton, MA.
At the Battle of the Wilderness on 8 May 8 1864, he was killed by a musket ball through the breast at age 28. After being hit and fallen to the ground, he is said to have raised himself and fired his last shot. The woods in which he lay soon caught on fire and if he had not already died of his wound he most literally would have been roasted to death.
(photo: Battle of the Wilderness)
Freeman Davis was liosted in the 1860 census as living in his father’s household at age 17, with an occupation of boot maker. His father Stephen H. Davis, age 39, at this time lists his occupation also as a boot maker. On 17 Mar 1880 Stephen Henry Davis received a pension to surviving family member based on Freeman’s service. He outlived Freeman and died on 26 Apr 1885 at Sturbridge, Worcester County, Massachusetts, at age 62.
Freeman Davis was included on the Civil War memorial at Leicester Town Hall, Washburn Square, Leicester, MA, as well as the War memorial at Prouty Park, Spencer, MA.
(b.1 Jun 1844, d.13 Aug 1875) also enlisted and mustered in Company E, 15th regiment on 11 Feb 1862 from Spencer at age 18 as a Private. His service was credited to Millbury. On 23 Feb 1864, James was reenlisted for a bounty of $368.66. (photo: Petersburg in Ruins)
On 22 Jun 1864 James was taken prisoner at Petersburg, Virginia. On 27 Jul 1864 James ended military service with the 15th
Massachusetts by administrative transfer to the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry as “absent Prisoner of War.” Starting 28 Jul 1864, James was administratively assigned to the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Company “E”, and discharged 21 Jun 1865. On 24 Aug 1864 at “The Worcester Spy”, Worcester, MA printed: James Lafayette Davis was reported among the prisoners, for a total of four commissioned officers and seventy-seven enlisted men. On 19 Dec 1864, James was exchanged from prison. He ended his service by mustering out on 21 Jun 1865.
On 3 Dec 1867 James Lafayette Davis, 23, married Eliza J. Smith, 17, at Tippecanoe, Indiana, by 1870 they returned to Leicester, and had a daughter, Gertrude born 1869.
James Lafayette Davis made application and was granted a veteran’s pension in Apr 1874, and he died a year later on 13 Aug 1875 at Worcester, MA. of consumption. He was 31 years old. In Sep 1875 his widow received a pension as surviving family member. She died on 24 Sep 1877 at Worcester, MA of consumption at age 27. In 1877 at Worcester, a guardianship hearing was held for Gertrude Davis. On 10 Nov 1879 Henry E. Southwick, James’s brother-in-law, and neighbor in Leiceister, MA made application for and was granted a pension as guardian to James’s surviving dependant. On 22 Jun 1890, James’ daughter, Gertrude E. Davis, married Martin Gallagher at Worcester, MA. In 1915 James L. Davis was included on the roster of Millbury men in the 15th Massachusetts Infantry in the Centennial History of Millbury Massachusetts, pages 164 to 166. Last Edited: 19 Feb 2012)
(Sources: Federal Census; 15thMassachusetts Volunteer Infantry Rosters; POW Roster, American Legion, CHERRY VALLEY POST 443, 167 Main St. Cherry Valley, MA 01611; Researcher: Patrick McKeon)