Frost, Edwin Brant
Age: 29, credited to St. Johnsbury, VTVITALS
Birth: 12/30/1832, Sullivan, NHADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Alias?: None notedDESCENDANTS
Pleasant Ridge Cemetery, Thetford, VT
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and other veterans who may be buried there.
Edwin Brant Frost was born in Sullivan, Cheshire County, New Hampshire, December thirtieth, 1832. In 1837 his father's family moved to Thetford, Vermont, where his boyhood was spent, and at whose academy he fitted for college.
He entered Dartmouth College in 1854, and graduated with honor in 1858. For a short time after graduating, young Frost taught school in Pittsfield, New Hampshire, and in Royalton, Massachusetts. He then commenced the study of law, which he pursued but a few months, when he entered the office of his brother, Dr. C. P. Frost, then engaged in an extensive practice at St. Johnsbury, Vermont. It seems that he changed his course of study because he believed himself better adapted to the practice of medicine than that of the legal profession.
Here he remained until May, 1862, when his ardent and patriotic nature could withstand no longer the imperative call of his imperiled country. The student shut up his books, and, like the heroes of his college memories and classic studies -- like the companions of his youth and associates of later years, now veterans in the field, put off the toga and donned the armor to meet the foes of Freedom and Constitutional Liberty.
He was commissioned to raise a company, and went to work in the face of many obstacles, with the enthusiasm which characterized his sanguine temperament; soon succeeded, and was chosen its Captain. This Company was designed for the Ninth Regiment, and was only one clock of the telegraph too late for such an assignment. For this disappointment, however, he was given the right company of a new organization. This also accounts for the fact that his commission dates nearly a month earlier than any other officer's in the Tenth Regiment. So, he went to the scenes which we are all familiar, and which terminated his earthly career, leaving a proud record upon the field of battle, and many friends to lament his untimely death. In the service he was noted for his extensive acquaintance and numerous friendships. It is doubted if there was an officer in the army who was personally so widely known. He had friends in every regiment from the State, and many from other States; besides, he was a man who could make new friends wherever he went. Colonel Merrill, of St. Johnsbury, now of Rutland, a man eminently qualified to judge, thus speaks of him: "No mental peculiarity was more strongly marked than a playfulness of fancy that seemed a wellspring of perpetual pleasantry. The ludicrous comparison, the witty repartee, seemed as much a part of himself as the spray is a part of a cascade."
This, added to his marked personal appearance, won him hosts of friends, and rendered it impossible for those how had once seen him to ever forget him. Many a camp scene has he enlived with his jovial songs, and his happy faculty of making the best of everything and everybody. He was a man of great refinement and considerable culture, freely quoting passages from Homer and Virgil, as well as modern literature, whenever it suited his convenience; of the most generous impulses, kind and full of good nature, and a "prince of good fellows." "Old Time" we called him, a sobriquet suggested by his long flaxen beard and golden hair. He was slow to take offence, if, indeed, any were disposed to give it. When aroused his strongest expression would be "By Harry!" or "By Jupiter!" His familiar manners gave him a ready passport to any man's confidence, while many of his companions in arms tenderly loved him. As expressive of his own attachment, and a sincere tribute of many love, General Henry says of him: "In a two years' acquaintance I have found him the fast friend, the courteous gentleman, and I had come to love him as a brother." It may be doubted if that officer did weep more sincerely over the death of his own brother, who fell in the terrible breach at Petersburg, than by the mangled body of Frost.
But he possessed other qualities which entitle him to a loftier commendation. Underneath all this playfulness, underlying the buoyant spirit, was a professed reverence for, and devout dependence upon, God. I think that he always cherished a Christian spirit. This, at least, was hist testimony at the beginning and end of his martial life. When elected Captain of his company, his words breath this spirit: "Soldier, we have chose the profession of arms, and with this choice the stern responsibilities of war; and under God, we will do our duty." Again, when the last sands were running out, or to be less fictitious, the last drop of his life's blood was ebbing away, with a feeble voice he exclaimed: "I have fallen in the foremost rank for my country and my God. I am happy!"
He was also a brave and capable officer. In half a score of battles his commanding officers ever speak of him as bearing himself nobly, and as exhibiting the best type of bravery and efficiency. General Henry writes of him after his death, to his friend, Colonel Merrill, as one of Vermont's "bravest and best."
Knowing all this, his friends have asked, and will ask again, "Why was he not promoted? Why was he cheated of the rank rightfully due him as command of Company A, and this, too, in a regiment where promotions were supposed to come rapidly?" Perhaps this supposition was a mistake. Still, there are several probable answers to the question. There really was but one opportunity to confer his advancement, previous to Colonel Jewett's resignation, while he lived. This occurred upon the resignation of Lieutenant-Colonel Edson, October sixteenth, 1862. General Henry, then Major, was promoted, justly, to fill the vacancy, and Lieutenant-Colonel Chandler, then Captain of Company I, was promoted to the Majority. According to the customs of the service, sought to be enforced, but which were never strictly observed in this regiment, Captain Frost should have been raised to a field officer's rank. He and his friends expected it, and were sore under the disappointment. But Captain Chandler, as an officer late of the Fourth Regiment, who had seen service and had experience in the Peninsular Campaign, it was said would be a more valuable acquisition to the field staff at that time than any other subaltern in the regiment. Were there any political considerations in this? -- no military policy meant to guard against possible contingencies? There was something to be said at the time about unredeemed pledges of officers, both civil and military, but none of which were publicly declared. Still, no injustice should appear in this record; and if there was injustice, it may be added, Lieutenant-Colonel Chandler was innocent of it.
The next opportunity that occurred for promotion to a field rank was upon the resignation of Colonel Jewett, on the twenty-fifth of April, 1864. Then there was a studied conspiracy to prevent his promotion, and its authors and abettors, it is feared, though alleging various plausible pretexts, used unsoldierly and ungenerous means to prejudice his otherwise possible chances. The succeeded. But many of those who were thus identified, it is just to observe, sincerely repented of the opposition; other obliterated in deeds of valor, while some of them washed out the stain with their own blood. But we must forget all this, as he forgave it all. With his dying breath he said: "You are all my friends, and I forgive all who have tried to injure me, and I shall died with a heart void of offence toward all men." This answer must satisfy his friends. Two ghastly wounds, either mortal, finished his string with men, without a stain upon his military record.
These wounds were received about nine o'clock on the morning of the third of June, 1864, at Cold Harbor, a time when the regiment suffered more severely in the lost of men than in any other engagement during its period of service. He endured five hours of extreme agony, and then, as if lying down to sleep, slept in death. Conscious to the last, with the "ruling passion strong in death, " he disposed of his effects, sometimes with playful allusion to those who would receive them. Though no more to the friends who stood around him, and those distant from the scene, "he left, in language emphasized and marked by his rich blood, that which speaks more in his silence -- the assurance of a patriot ennobled by a Christian's death."
He was buried rudely but tenderly, amid the falling tears of the few friends who gathered around him, and the shock of battle, that a few hours before had swept Stetson, Newton, and the gallant Townshend, of the One Hundred and Sixth New York, with many of their brave comrades, beneath the blood-stained turf -- that then drove Blodgett and Hunt crippled forever from the field, and the latter by the same ball that passed through his body, and the storm which rolled on until Darrah, Dillingham, Hill, Thompson and Clark, and a hundred more, were counted with its victims.
Source: Edwin Mortimer Haynes, A history of the Tenth Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, 2nd ed., (Tuttle Co., Rutland, 1894), pp 175-179.
EDWIN B. FROST
Born in Sullivan, N.H. Resided at St. Johnsbury at the commencement of the rebellion studying medicine with his brother, Dr. C. P. Frost. He took an active part in raising a company of volunteers in St. Johnsbury, and from adjacent towns, and, succeeding, was commissioned Captain July 7, 1862. The company was mustered into United States service as Company A, 10th Regiment, September 1, 1862. Wounded in action at Cold Harbor, June 3, 1864. The 10th was on an advanced line, Captain Frost stepped forward as if to reconnoitre, when he was struck by a musket ball, near the right side and in the lower part of the abdomen, and in another moment another ball hit him a little higher up, on the same side, passing entirely through his body. He was taken to the rear to a house where he lingered in great agony for two hours. Either of the balls would have resulted in death. His body was carefully buried and his grave marked.
Some time afterward it was disinterred and taken to his former home, Thetford, and buried among his kindred. Captain Frost, at this time, was in command of the right wing of the Regiment. The enemy were concealed in a piece of woods in front of the 10th Regiment. Their sharp-shooters were vigilant and our forces suffered severely from their concealed fire. the 10th displayed great bravery on this occasion ,substantially maintaining their position until the army took up its line of march for Petersburg.
Captain Frost engaged in several battles and skirmishes before the actions in the Wilderness. He passed safely through all until fatally wounded at Cold Harbor. He was unflinchingly brave and cool in action; shunning no danger he died expressing pleasure, rather than sorrow, that he could give his life for his country, and anticipation of a higher life hereafter. After the foregoing notice of Capt. Frost had been prepared, a comrade of the 10th Regiment transmitted to the compiler the following more extended account of his services:
The 10th was first assigned to duty on the Upper Potomac, where it suffered very severely from disease. Capt. Frost won the respect of every one by his attention to duty and devotion to the cause. He was the ideal of his company, winning their love by his kindness, ever looking after their welfare, even attending the sick with his own hands. During the winter of 1862-63, he was in command of the right wing of the Regiment, and by his energy put a stop to the smuggling of goods and recruits across the river in his vicinity. Throughout the summer of 1863, on the hard marches after the traitor Lee, he set the men an example, by ever marching with them, cheering them on through hardships by a constant flow of wit, and kind sympathy.
In July an order came to detail a certain number of meritorious officers and soldiers for recruiting service, and he was the first selected. He rejoined the Regiment in September. Before the retreat from Culpepper Court House, in October, he as in the hospital and was ordered to the rear, but he was determined to keep with the army and did so, part of the time being obliged to ride in an ambulance; but whenever there was a prospect of a fight, the men were sure to see their Captain at the head of his Company. In the battles of Kelley's Fort and Brandy Station his coolness was noticed by all and received an official compliment by soon after being appointed Provost Marshal of the division, an office of distinction, but he declined it, preferring to remain with his Regiment. In the battles of Locust Grove and Mine Run, where the 10th was warmly engaged, he was ever in the hottest of the fight; never excited, his calm, clear commands, could be heard above the din of battle as he bade the men "keep cool," "steady, men, steady, don't get excited," "aim low," "protect yourselves as well as you can," etc.; and in the hottest fire, his tall form in plain sight, (disdaining to seek the protection he urged upon his men,) was too conspicuous a mark to escape the keen-eyed rebels. He had one shot through is hat and two struck his sword. When the shot passed through his hat he coolly remarked, "think I'll not get tall hats after this." Although so exposed to danger, he escaped unharmed, with new honors.
The winter of 1863 and '64 was passed in camp with no events of importance. At the commencement of the memorable campaign of 1864, Captain Frost was acting Major, (his commission arrived a short time after his death) and in the battles of the wilderness, Spotsylvania, North Anna and Hanover Court House, he acted with his usual coolness, and bravery, handling his men skillfully and effectively. At Cold Harbor he was second in command. ON the night of June 1, when the 106th NY was hurled back upon our already thinned ranks, throwing us into confusion, Capt. Frost was ever in the front, giving his commands in tones which assured his men that he, at least, was perfectly self-possessed, and set an example of courage which every true Green Mountain Boy was anxious to emulate. Our lines were advanced. At daylight on the 3d, the 10th started on a charge, in which, as usual, Capt. Frost was with the foremost. At least they reached a point beyond which it was impossible for the stoutest hearts and hands to force a way; to stay seemed certain death; but the order was to "charge as far as possible, and then hold what was taken." Capt. Frost sent back a message to say to the commanding officer of the Regiment "that it was madness to keep the men in that position." Back came the reply, "Hold it at all hazards." The result was that one hundred and twenty men were killed or wounded. Then our line fell back as Capt. Frost had advised, but it was too late to save that noble life. He was mortally wounded, and when the word passed along the line that Capt. Frost was badly wounded, many a sad, anxious face told how he was loved. The brave, strong men sprang to his relief, and he was borne from the field nevermore to return. On the way to the rear he requested those carrying him to rest a moment, when he examined his wound and then told them to leave him and return to the Regiment, as he could not live more than an hour, and it was useless to carry him farther. But there were anxious for the welfare of their Captain and persuaded him to consent to be removed to the hospital.
It was my fate to be wounded soon after the Captain, and as I was being carried from the field I passed him, when, forgetful of his own sufferings, he kindly said, "I hope you are not badly wounded," and smilingly bade me "good bye" and "God bless you."
After reaching the hospital everything possible was done for him, but to no avail. After suffering for an hour, intense agony, which he bore manfully, death released him.
He was one of those rare officers who were never seen intoxicated and never used profane language. He believed that he was fighting to perpetuate the Union, to vindicated the doctrine "That all men are created free and equal," and to show to the world that America is indeed the "land of the free." Oppression in any form never found an advocate in him. His life was gentle; and the elements so mixed in him that nature might stand up and say to all the world 'This was a man!' But it is needless for me to speak farther of his many virtues and noble qualities. He belongs to that generous band of men whose works live after them. Of Captain Frost it may justly be said -- "living he was beloved, and dead he is lamented." C. A. W.
Source: Albert G. Chadwick, compiler, Soldiers Record of the Town of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, in the War of the Rebellion, 1861-5,(C. M. Stone & Co., St. Johnsbury, VT., 1883), pp. 62-65
Edwin B. Frost was born at Sullivan, New Hampshire, December 30, 183S. His father, in 1837, moved to Thetford, Vermont, and in the academy of that place he was fitted for college. In our class day exercises it will be remembered he gave the "Prophecies."
Upon graduating he first taught at Pittsfield, New Hampshire, then at Royalston, Massachusetts. He then commenced the study of law, which he pursued for a few months only, when he entered the office of his brother, Carlton P. Frost, AT. D. (D. C. 1852), for the purpose of studying medicine. Here he remained until May, 1862, when his ardent and patriotic nature could no longer withstand the imperative call of his country, so he put off the toga and donned the armor to meet the foes of freedom and constitutional liberty. He was commissioned captain of Company A, Tenth Vermont Infantry. In service he was noted for his extensive acquaintance and numerous friendships. One of his brother officers says of him: "No mental peculiarity was more strongly marked than a playfulness of fancy that seemed a wellspring of perpetual pleasantry. The ludicrous comparison, the witty repartee, seemed as much a part of himself as the spray is a part of the cascade." This, added to his marked personal appearance which gave him the name of "Old^Father Time," won him hosts of friends, and rendered it impossible for those who had once seen him ever to forget him. Many a camp scene he enlivened with his jovial songs, and with his happy faculty of making the best of everything and everybody. He was a "prince of good fellows." Slow to take offense if any were disposed to give it, when aroused his strongest expression was "By Harry," or "By Jupiter."
Underneath all this playfulness was a professed reverence for, and devout dependence on, God. He always cherished a Christian spirit. When the last drop of his life's blood was ebbing away, with a feeble roice he exclaimed: "I have fallen in the foremost rank for my country and my God. I am happy."
He was a brave and capable officer. In half a score of battles his commanding officers ever speak of him as bearing himself nobly, and as exhibiting the best type of braver)' and efficiency. General Henry characterized him as "one of Vermont's bravest and best."
He was wounded about nine o'clock on the morning of June 3, 1864, at Cold Harbor, while temporarily in command of his regiment. He endured five hours of extreme agony, conscious to the last, attended by his brother-in-law, Rev. Arthur Little (D. C. 1860), chaplain of the Eleventh Vermont Infantry, when his life went out. He was buried rudely but tenderly, amid the falling tears of the few friends who gathered around him, and in the shock of battle. He had not only a presentment of his death, but also of the nature of his wound. One who was near him says, "I have seen him more than once place his finger upon the place where the bullet entered his body, saying as he did so, 'I shall be hit here.'" His remains were later removed to his old home town of Thetford.
The above, in part, is condensed from "A History of the Tenth Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, by Chaplain E. M. Haynes, D. D." His picture as here appears is from a cut in the above named history, and was furnished at the expense of classmate Emery.
Source: Samuel L. Gerould, Biographical Sketches of the Class of 1858 Dartmouth College, (Telegraph Publishing Co., Nashua, NH), 52-53.