Friday, April 15, 2011

Dummer Academy Alumni Involvement in the American Civil War, 1861-1865

Information held in The Governor’s Academy’s Archives reveals that at least five alumni of the academy—then named Dummer Academy—fought in the American Civil War. All five men were Union Army officers, two of whom reached the level of Brigadier General, during the 1861-1865 war. One Dummer Academy alumnus was an aide to Major General George B. McClellan, while another ultimately served as private secretary to Andrew Johnson, who assumed the United States Presidency after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination in 1865.

Of the five Dummer Academy alumni to fight in the Civil War, two died in battle and one died from complications of pneumonia while active in service. Arranged chronologically by year of Dummer Academy graduation, the men are as follows:

Frederick West Lander (see below), Brigadier General of Volunteers, Union Army, and Aide to General McClellan. Originally from Salem, Massachusetts, Lander graduated from Dummer Academy in 1838, and subsequently studied at Norwich Military Academy. Lander was also a transcontinental United States explorer and poet. In the former capacity, he was commissioned by the U.S. government to survey for a route for a Pacific railroad. He constructed the overland wagon route (“Lander Road”), a popular route between the Wyoming and Oregon Territories. During the American Civil War, he published a popular poem on the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, as well as other nationally recognized patriotic poems. Lander died of complications from pneumonia in February of 1862.

Reuben Delevan Mussey, Brigadier General, US Volunteers, and Private Secretary to President Andrew Johnson. “R.D.” Mussey graduated from Dummer Academy in 1846. He received a college degree in 1854 from Dartmouth College, where his father—also Reuben Mussey—was a professor in Dartmouth’s medical school and the fourth president of the American Medical Association. Mussey had campaigned for Abraham Lincoln in 1860. When the war started, he was appointed from Ohio to the regular army, assigned to the 19th U.S. Infantry as a captain in May of 1861. The 19th ultimately joined the Army of the Ohio and later the Army of the Cumberland. According to the Certificate of Records of Soldiers and Sailors Historical and Benevolent Society No. 180017, Mussey was said to have been the first regular army officer to see permission to raise Negro troops. In September 1863, he was sent to Nashville, Tennessee, to help organize Negro troops. He was made Colonel of the 100th U.S. Colored Infantry in June of 1864. Mussey was brevetted Brigadier General of U.S. Volunteers in 1865 for his recruitment and organization of Negro troops. Subsequently, he served as Andrew Johnson’s confidential secretary from when Johnson took office following Lincoln’s assassination until November 1865. Mussey then served as an adjunct instructor at Howard Law School. He established law office in Washington, DC, and involved his wife, Ellen Spencer Mussey, who became a social reformer, supporter of the women’s suffrage movement, lawyer, and founder of Washington College of Law.

Malcom W. Tewksbury, Company C, 104th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, enlisted as a 1st Lieutenant, Union. Originally from Chester, NH, Tewksbury graduated from Dummer Academy in 1854, and from Dartmouth College in 1858.

Goodwin A. Stone (see below), Captain 2d Cavalry, Company K. An 1856 graduate of Dummer Academy and an 1862 graduate of Harvard University, Stone was mortally wounded at the Battle of Aldie, part of the Gettysburg Campaign. He hailed from Newburyport, Massachusetts.

George P. Sylvester, 3rd Sergeant (non-commissioned officer), Ninth Regiment New Hampshire Volunteers. Originally from West Newbury, Massachusetts, Sylvester graduated from Dummer Academy in 1858. The Union officer was also mortally wounded in battle.