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Colby, Henry Bowditch


Age: 22, credited to Bradford, VT
Unit(s): USN, 12th VT INF
Service: enl 8/19/62, m/i 10/4/62, Pvt, Co. H, 12th VT INF, disch 1/22/63, tr to USN, appt. Master's Mate, 1/63, schooner Beauregard (EGBS); Acting ENS, 2/64; steamer Nyack (NAS), 64-65; hon. disch 5/66

See Legend for expansion of abbreviations


Birth: 1840, Bradford, VT
Death: 04/16/1883

Burial: San Francisco National Cemetery, San Francisco, CA
Marker/Plot: GHT/399-B
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Carol/Findagrave, #46859893
Findagrave Memorial #: 3523374

Cenotaph: Upper Plain Cemetery, Bradford, VT
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Tom Ledoux
Findagrave Memorial #: 182003186


Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Not Found
Portrait?: Unknown
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)

Remarks: See Benedict's Army Life in Virginia


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San Francisco National Cemetery, CA

Check the cemetery for location/directions and other veterans who may be buried there.




Cenotaph in Upper Plain Cemetery, Bradford, VT

Check the cemetery for location/directions and other veterans who may have cenotaphs there.


Henry B. COLBY was born in 1840 in Bradford, Orange County, Vermont, the son of Moody Colby (1806-1862) and Elizabeth Taylor (1808-). In 1850 he was living in Bradford with his parents. In 1860, Moody and Elizabeth are still living in Bradford, but Henry is not with them. Since, less than three years later, he is appointed a Masters Mate in the Navy, he must have been gaining some experience, either at sea or on Lake Champlain, and thus was absent from home at that time.

He enlisted 19 August 1862, and mustered in as a private in Co. H, 12th Vermont Infantry on 4 October 162, and was discharged 22 January 1863 to transfer to the U. S. Navy. He was appointed Master's Mate, U. S. Volunteers, in January 1863, serving in the East Gulf Blockading Squadron. Promoted to Acting Ensign in February 1864. Served on the steamer Nyack, in the North Atlantic Squadron in 1864 and 1865, and was honorably discharged in May 1866.

Timeline of Service as recorded in the Official Records

August 23, 1863

Acting Masters Mate H. B. Colby, in charge of a boat from US Schooner Beauregard, off Indian River, Fla., boarded the schooner Phoebe, and examined her papers, which he found to be in order. Two days later, the schooner, which had stayed, suspiciously, in the area, attempted to communicate with shore, and the Beauregard captured here and sent it to Key West for adjudication. Source: (ORN)

November 5, 1863

An armed boat, in charge of Acting Masters Master H. B. Colby, from US Schooner Beauregard, overtook and captured the British schooner Volante, with a cargo of salt, dry goods, etc. The vessel was sent to Key West for adjudication. Source: (ORN)

January 31, 1864

Acting Masters Mate H. B. Colby, US Schooner Beauregard, in an armed boat, pursued a suspicious sloop for four hours, overtaking his prize 'close in to the breakers about 10 miles to the northward of Cape Canaveral.' The vessel was the British sloop Racer, with a cargo of 20 bales of cotton, bound for Nassau. The prize was sent to Key West for adjudication. Acting Master Francis Burgess, commanding Beauregard, reported: 'I beg leave to mention Acting Masters Mate H. B. Colby, who has used unusual energy in assisting in the capture of this sloop, as also on former occasions.' Source: (ORN)

February 4, 1864

Acting Master Francis Burgess, US Schooner Beauregard, sent a boat in charge of Acting Masters Mate H. B. Colby, into Jupiter Inlet to search for blockade runners. Colby discovered and seized the boat Lydia, bound for Nassau with cotton and turpentine. The prize was sent to Key West for adjudication Source: (ORN)

March 11, 1864

Acting Ensign H. B. Colby was sent in a boat from US Schooner Beauregard, Acting Master Francis Burgess, to capture a suspect schooner trying to get into Mosquito Inlet. A second boat, from US Schooner Norfolk Packet, joined Colby in the chase. By the time the boats reached the inlet, the schooner, later found to be the British schooner Linda, had already turned the point and was headed up the river. Colby beached his boat, ran up the riverbed and after firing several musket shots, the schooner lowered her sails and was boarded by the second boat. Source: (ORN)

April 18, 1864

Acting Master E. C. Healy, commanding US Schooner Beauregard, off St. Augustine, Fla., sent a gig and cutter in charge of Acting Ensign H. B. Colby into Matanzas Inlet, where he boarded and capture the English schooner Oramoneta, of Nassau, which was sent to St. Augustine for adjudication. Source: (ORN)

January 18, 1865

Lieutenant Commander Newman, USS Nyack, sent a cutter in charge of Acting Ensign Henry B. Colby to sound the bar off Cape Fear River. Source: (ORN)

January 20, 1865

A cutter from USS Nyack, in charge of Acting Ensign Henry B. Colby, was sent to intercept some vessels that had run in under Fort Caswell. At 4:20, he returned and 'reported that he had crossed the bar and passed up as far as Fort Caswell wharf and remained there about half an hour, when, finding the vessels did not attempt to run out again,' he returned to the Nyack. Source: (ORN)

February 21, 1865

USS Nyack's first cutter, in charge of Acting Ensign Henry B. Colby, was sent up the Cape Fear River 'for duty' (not further explained); the cutter returned the next morning. Source: (ORN)

March 16, 1865

Lieutenant Commander George W. Young, Senior Officer present off Wilmington, passed the following to Rear Admiral Porter: 'Acting Master H. W. Grinnell and Acting Ensign H. B. Colby, of the Nyack, volunteered to convey an communication to the army that [Major General Schofield] might have to send, and as their commanding officer had no objections, I gave the permission to undertake the service. I am happy to state they were in time to meet General Sherman just outside of Fayetteville.' Source: (ORN); see also

In 1880, he was living in Harshaw, Patagonia Mountains, Pima Territory, Arizona, occupation ship's master. He died 16 April 1883, in San Francisco, California, and was interred in San Francisco National Cemetery in 1920.


Where was he in 1860?

What happened to him between 1866 and 1880?

How could he attain the rank of Captain in the U. S. Navy (cemetery record) in such a short period of time? Probably an administrative error on the part of the cemetery record keepers.

Where was he originally buried? Why was he reinterred?

Bibliography to date:

-U. S. Census returns for 1850 (Vermont), 1870 (Vermont) 1880 (Arizona)
-Frederick Lewis Weis, "The Colby Family in Early America," (The Colonial Press, Caledonia, ??, 1970)
-Officers of Navy Yards, Shore Stations, and Vessels, 1 January 1865, North Atlantic Squadron: Part 2;