Monday, August 24, 2009
Clara Pierce, Civil War Wife
Thanks to John Zwisler and the Town Reminder
Clara Eliza Perce was the fourth of nine children born to Luther and Mary Ashley Pierce. Except for her brother John, who was born in Vermont, all the other children were born in Massachusetts and 180 census shows the family had settled here in South Hadley. Clara worked in a local mill until 1854, when at age 21, she married Amos B. Wood of Springfield. Their first child, Fred Luther, was born in Springfield in 1859.
After the Civil War started, Amos enlisted on August 15, 1862 for a nine month term with Company A of the 46th Massachusetts Regiment of Volunteers. Clara came back with her son, Freddie, age 3 to stay with her mother in South Hadley while Amos was gone. They corresponded sometimes twice a week during his absence. The first letter from Amos (from his actual writing) said “I think we will get away from Boston Harbor to Newbern, N.C., tomorrow morning. Clara I read your letter this morn & may your prayers be answered I shall try to do my duty & may God bless us all that you ask shall be granted. I saw Captain about the state aid & sinid the allotment roal for eight dollars a month which you can get at the city clerks office. Kiss that dear boy for me & may he be spared to you & may God bless you boath. My dear wfe I will close for this time and bid you good by for this time.”
In other letters home he writes of sleeping on the ground, waiting for clothes and receiving their guns. “The rifles are very heavy but rather pretty. I never saw eny like them. We have not tried them yet but think they will shoot well. I hired my washing done last week for five cents a peace. Don’t think I shall have eny more done as we are close to the rive so that I can do my own. It is not as big as the Connecticut river.” Amos relates about talking with the enemy across the river with all hoping the war will be over soon so they can out and go home.
Clara’s letters to Amos always told of how sick little Freddie was staying up nights with her and not being to go outdoors. She was living in the falls and writes in April of 1863, “I went to Holyoke and back yesterday doing a lot of walking and visiting friends and they all felt so sorry for Freddie being sick that they all sent him something. I had my bag full of one thing or another for him when I got home including a cake of maple sugar. I got him some thick sole shoes and took him out on the ground for the first time for twelve weeks and he enjoyed it.” Clara had heard that some of the regiment was going to re-enlist and said “I hope you will not think of it for a moment will you.”
The 46th regiment returned to Springfield and were given a reception at City Hall. They had participated in battles at Kinston, Whitehall, Goldsboro and twice repelled attacks on Newbern. Amos mustered out of the Army on July 29, 1863. Amos and Clara had three more children, Clarence 1868-1869, Minnie 1870-1952, and Maybelle 1873-1947. After returning from the war, Amos worked at the Springfield Armory, Milton Bradley Company, and was a Forest Park Policeman from 1896 until he died in 1902. Clara died in 1905 and is buried alongside Amos, Clarence, Minnie, and Maybelle in Oak Grove Cemetery in Springfield. Sickly little Freddie lived to be 83 and is buried in the Bridge Street Cemetery in Northampton with his wife and her parents. Amos wood had two brothers, who at different times, were president of the Chicopee Savings Bank, that had been incorporated in 1875.
Clara had to brothers that remained in South Hadley Falls. John Pierce bought the house at 30 Spring Street in 1864. He died young at age 47 and his wife continued living there until 1902, when she moved to Holyoke to live with a daughter. The house is still there. Edwin Pierce enlisted and then re-enlisted in the Volunteer Infantry in the Civil War. He was captured and spent time in Libby and Anderson prisons. Returning to the falls, he resumed his trade as a painter and paperhanger living with his family at 15 Methodist Street, now Gaylord Street. The house was torn down.
Clara Pierce Wood’s mother, father, four brothers, and one sister are buried in the South Hadley Falls-Village Cemetery.