April 1, 2007
Hopedale History
No. 81
Letter from Newbern

Hopedale in March .

Thanks to Karen Stevens of Scotland, Connecticut, for the donation of a book titled Cotton Mill Mathematics. Several months ago, Karen passed on to us a panoramic photo, c 1910, of the uniformed members of the George Draper Lodge, Knights of Pythias.

For anyone interested in the history of the Driftway, Cutler Street and the Cutler Bridge, Iíve come across a little more information in Ballouís History of Milford and added it to the
Street and Place Names page.

The story I sent on June 1, 2005, was about Gilbert Thompson, who grew up in the Hopedale Community and later gained fame for several reasons, including being the first American to use fingerprints for identification, and as a founding member of the National Geographic Society. I learned about Thompson from Perry Sims of California, who had been looking for a picture of him for a couple of decades. Perryís long search was finally successful and he recently sent me the picture and much more information on Thompsonís life.
Click here to see the camera-shy Mr. Thompson.

During the last couple of weeks Iíve added a new section to my Hopedale website. Itís called Now and Then. So far it has nineteen pages and each page has two pictures (more on some) of the same location, one taken long ago and one taken recently. I plan to add to this over then next few months. Go to the
Now and Then Menu.

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Letter from Newbern

As I mentioned on March 1, we recently received copies of fifty pages of letters written by William F. Draper during his first year of service in the Civil War. The were given to us by John Robertson, who obtained copies from the Smithsonian while doing research for his book, On Old Marlborough Road, the story of two Upton men killed at the Battle of New Bern. (Spelled Newbern by Draper in his letters, New Berne in his autobiography, and New Bern everywhere else Iíve looked.) As I get the time, I hope to have all of the letters online, and have completed eight so far.


                                                                                          Newbern, N.C.
                                                                                          March 15, 1862
   
Dear Father:

As you have probably heard we have taken this town as the second part of the part which is assigned to us. Fifty-nine cannon and six hundred prisoners have fallen into our hands besides an immense amount of stores of every kind. Since I wrote you last I took part in a little expedition to Columbia which I thought would fill a letter, but I have no time now to write about it.

After a pleasant sail from Hatteras in which by the way the Signal Corps were of great service, we arrived at Slocombs Creek where we anchored for the night. I forgot to mention that I command a station now, General Burnsideís. We landed early in the morning and marched all day through the mud and got about eight miles. I was fortunate enough to get a shelter for the night.

  The next morning we heard fighting ahead and as the flag men were tired out carrying the things they stopped to rest and I pushed ahead. The shells and shot began to fall around me pretty thick, and I met stragglers coming back. A little further on and I came across the twenty-seventh Massachusetts. They were directly in front of the battery and about twenty rods from it. I saw a dead man near me and took his gun and ammunition and went in. I experienced no sick feelings as I expected to, not even a desire to ďdodge bullets.Ē I fired some ten rounds one of which I think took effect when the regiment was ordered to fall back on account of want of ammunition.

I kept along the lines until I found the 25th, when I took my old place for the day. We occupied the ground that the 27th had occupied when we were ordered to charge, which we did together with the 24th and carried the battery. We then pushed forward again and came up with the enemy whom we charged again. They scattered in every direction.

We took some prisoners. Forward was the order again, and we took up our march for Newbern. When we came in sight, we thought it was all in flames but only a few buildings were destroyed. The bridge across the river was destroyed, so we crossed in boats. I stayed with Company B all night and came on board the Alice Price in the morning.

Company B lost two men killed and three wounded. Orson Fiske and C.A. Rogers were killed; Hadley lost his right arm, Davenport had his arm broken, and Tilton was hit in the stomach by a piece of shell. Fiske was shot immediately in front of me.

I may get a mention in the report. The Major of our regiment has resigned. Captain Clark told me last night that as he suffered some from rheumatism that he thought some of resigning, and he told me to get the command of the company in that case. Donít mention this as it was told me in confidence.
I have got or rather had any quantity of trophies. I now have a gun, a knife, a hatchet, a quilt, a coat, a pair of pants and several little things.

I donít know whether we shall advance further or not. Remember me to all my friends.

        Yours truly,

        W.F. Draper

Fiske and Rogers, mentioned above, were the men whose story is told in John Robertsonís book.

Click here to go to the other letters I have online.

Once again, Peter Metzke of Melbourne has amazed me. He read the letters last week, and within a day or so, he had found pictures online of two of the ships Draper was stationed on when writing; the Spaulding and the Louisiana. I have the picture with the letters on the website. Peter also found a story online of Lydia Rutter Draper of Wayland, a niece of Ebenezer and George Draper.

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The town of Hopedale is peculiar in deriving a larger amount of tax on personal property, per capita, than any other manufacturing town in the Commonwealth. This income is wholly dependent on the choice of habitation of a small proportion of the population. It is therefore for the interest of the town to make its surroundings as attractive as possible, in order that it may continue to appeal as a place of residence, and the preservation of the landscape is a certain and definite step towards such an end.
Report of the Park Commissioners, 1899, commenting on the acquisition of land that soon after became known as the Parklands.

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Correction: A month ago I wrote that the last of the original street signs in Hopedale had been replaced. I noticed a few days ago that there is still at least one left. Itís at the corner of Mendon and Daniels streets.

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Recent death:

Helen Salvia, 90, March 19, 2007.

                                
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