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Individual Record

Read, James Marsh

Age: 27, credited to Colchester, VT
Unit(s): 1st VT INF, 10th VT INF
Service: enl 5/2/61, m/i 5/9/61, Pvt, Co. H, 1st VT INF, m/o 8/15/61; enl 7/31/62 (9/1/62), SGT, Co. D, 10th VT INF, comn 2LT, Co. D, 6/17/64 (8/3/64), pr 1LT, Co. E, 12/19/64 (1/30/65), wdd, Cedar Creek, 10/19/64, pr Adjutant, 4/22/65 (4/22/65), m/o 6/28/65, Bvt CPT, 4/2/65 for gallantry in the assault on Petersburg, mwia, Petersburg, 4/2/65, d/wds 4/6/65 City Point Va. [College: UVM 53]

See Legend for expansion of abbreviations

Birth: 11/19/1833, St. Albans, VT
Death: 04/06/1865

Burial: Elmwood Avenue Cemetery, Burlington, VT
Marker/Plot: 10th row/south
Gravestone researcher/photographer: Kathy Valloch
Findagrave Memorial #: 75732785
Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Unknown
Portrait?: VHS off-site
College?: UVM 53
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: 10th Vt. History off-site

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Copyright notice


Elmwood Avenue Cemetery, Burlington, VT

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


The following excellent biographical sketch of Adjutant Read was written by Chaplain John B. Perry, and first published in The Vermont Record of June tenth and seventeenth, 1865.

Adjutant Read, who fell in the late fight before Petersburg, having been highly esteemed as an officer, and much beloved by the regiment to which he belonged, is thought deserving of more than a passing notice. In view of these considerations, and at the suggestions of several of his surviving comrades in arms, the following commemorative notice has been prepared as a token of kindly remembrance, and is respectfully dedicated to the mourning friends of the deceased.

JAMES MARCH READ, son of Hon. David Read, was born in St. Albans, Vermont, November nineteenth, 1833. Having passed his earlier years in his native place, he removed with this father's family to Burlington, in November 1839. When very young, he imbibed a taste for reading, which he never afterwards lost. He was fitted for college partly at the High School in his adopted town, and in part at Phillips Academy, Andover, Massachusetts. Doctor Taylor, the able Principal of the latter Institution, always gave a flattering report of James's deportment and scholarship, while under his tuition.

In August, 1849, being then in his sixteenth year, he entered the University of Vermont, from which he was in due course graduated in 1853. While in college he stood high as a scholar; especially was he regarded by his classmates as a fine linguist, and an able and accomplished writer. Soon after his graduation, he went to Canton, Madison County, Mississippi, where he was engaged as a teacher in a private family. He continued to live in the South for about a year, fulfilling during this time the duties of an instructor.

On his return North, he was engaged for a short period in the office of the New York Courier and Enquirer. While connected with this paper, he became intimately acquainted with a son of the commercial editor. Young Mr. Homans, who had previously accompanied Major-General Pope, at that time Captain of the Engineer Corps, in his expedition across the plains of Western Texas and New Mexico, was about starting on a second expedition, which was then fitting out. Being under government employ, and having charge both of the Barometrical and Astronomical Department of the expedition, he invited his friend Read to go out with him, and offered to him a position as an assistant in these Departments. Having duly considered the matter, and decided to go, Mr. Read accepted the offer and joined the expedition, leaving New York, February second, 1855. On the passage out the company stopped for a few days in Havana, Cuba, also New Orleans, finally disembarking at Indianola, Texas. From the latter place they marched, under an escort of United States troops, to San Antonio, and thence onward to the upper waters of the Rio Peros. They finally encamped near the stream in the southeasterly angle of New Mexico, which they made their headquarters for about three years and a half.

After the lapse of some twelve months, Mr. Homans receiving a lucrative appointment in New York, returned to that city. Mr. Read was at once appointed his successor, all eyes turning to him as adapted to fill the vacancy. His mathematical attainments, and acquaintance with the physical sciences, fitted him well for the position, and made his services an invaluable help to the expedition. During their stay in this region, the experiment of sinking artesian wells was tried upon the La Lano Estuado, or staked plains; though according to my present recollection, with indifferent success.

Various expeditions were also frequently planned, and detachments sent out, for exploration in Central New Mexico, upon the Guadaloupe Mountains, and the extended desert plains lying to the east of their encampment. These exploring expeditions were usually joined by young Read. While they offered him a fine opportunity for observation, and the study of the Natural History of the country, he no doubt rendered efficient aid to the parties he accompanied, by his own contributions. That he made excellent use of these means for improvement, is evident to the writer, from an essay which he heard him read some years later, on the Botany of New Mexico as compared with that of Colchester Plains. His powers of observation were unusually good; they were increased in strength and aptitude by the habit which he then formed of noting continually what fell under his eye, especially if it related to the physical features of the regions through which he passed.

These exploring expeditions were often attended with extreme hardships and peril; and sometimes they were checked with a bit of romance. This was particularly the case in once instance recounted by Mr. Read. Striking eastwardly across the desert, the party, consisting of four beside himself, all mounted on mules, came near perishing for want of drink. One man and his mule gave out. Leaving him, the rest pressed on in search of water. Having at length come to some pools in the desert, men and animals plunged into them indiscriminately, and slaked their thirst. Then, filling their canteens, they hastened back with a view to rescue their perishing comrade, who had been left about twenty-five miles in the rear. They soon met his mule on the way, and at last reached the man himself before life was extinct. Having given him water and food they took him back to the just discovered pools.

Mr. Read passed the winter of 1857 in Washington. While there, he was busily engaged assisting in the preparation of the Report of the Expedition for the Secretary of War. Sometime during the following spring he returned to the plains of New Mexico, and continued his labors in that region until the close of the expedition. Not far from this time -- I believe it was while he was at work in Washington on the report already referred to -- with a view to the more accurate presentation of the results of the explorations, as well as to the better prosecution of future investigations, he was sent to Cambridge, Massachusetts, by Captain Pope, to consult Professor Bond of Harvard University, on some intricate questions relating to the scientific observations of the expedition. He was about the same time in correspondence with Professor, afterwards General, O. M. Mitchell of Cincinnati Observatory, and Professor Young of Dartmouth College; also, on other occasions, with Professors at West Point, and gentlemen connected with the Smithsonian Institute. He was likewise applied to from time to time, as appears from letters which he left on file, for information on a variety of scientific subjects.

After the close of the expedition, he maintained for several years a friendly correspondence with General Pope, who, it seems, had a generous appreciation of his services, and entertained a high opinion of his ability, and towards whom the subject of this notice ever after cherished a warm friendship and great kindliness of feeling. The expedition having come to a close in the autumn of 1858, Mr. Read returned to his father's. For the greater part of the next two years he remained at home. At this time he was for the most part engaged in study and in collecting specimens in Natural History. He was also, as I am informed, more or less occupied in writing for the journals of the day.

During the autumn of 1860 and the following winter he was employed by E. M. Smalley, Esq., as an assistant in the editorial department of the Burlington Sentinel. It is said that the readers of that paper were indebted for some of its best contributions, during this period, to Mr. Read. The time which Mr. Read thus spent at home and in writing, was perhaps one of the richest in the fruits of culture which it bore of his life. Having leisure both for meditation and intercourse with refined society, he probably made great improvement, as well intellectually as in the cultivation of his social powers. As his memory was very retentive, he no doubt at this time laid up a vast amount of useful knowledge. He seemed to grasp and keep whatever he read. But this was not all; he seized hold of principles with more readiness than most. That he thus improved is evident from the fact that those persons who engaged in conversation with him, were often surprised at the readiness with which he would recall what he had previously learned, or the contents of the books he had perused. And to this we should add that he was not merely conversant with a few topics, but was found to be unusually well informed for one of his age, on almost every subject.

On the breaking out of the rebellion, and the issue of the President's call for seventy-five thousand men in 1861, Mr. Read enlisted for three months at private in the Howard Guards. This was the first company raised in Burlington, and formed a part of the First Regiment of Vermont Volunteers. On the ninth of May he left with his companions for the front, and served in faithfulness his full term of service. Being present at the battle of Big Bethel, which occurred June tenth, he barely escaped with his life, a round shot from the enemy's batteries shivering a tree just above his head. On the retreat of our men, which followed the same battle, he (beyond all reasonable doubt) save a fellow soldier from falling into the hands of the Confederate cavalry. Herman Seligan, then a private, but now a Captain of Company C, of the Ninth Vermont Regiment, became greatly fatigued, and fell by the wayside. Mr. Read took the gun, haversack, and other equipments of his exhausted companion, and carried them, in addition to his own, through to Fortress Monroe. In thus relieving his brother in arms, he animated him with hope and courage by which he was enabled to pass on to the Fortress, which they safely reached in company late at night.

After the close of his three months' service, Mr. Read returned home and remained there until the President's second call for three hundred thousand men. At this crisis he felt constrained again to volunteer in defence of his country .Accordingly, July thirty-first, 1862, he re-enlisted as a private soldier for three years, and on the first of the following September he was mustered into the United States service, in Company D, of the Tenth Vermont Regiment. Having been appointed Sergeant at once, on the organization of his company, he served for some time in this capacity. He also, for a while, performed the duties of First Sergeant. To Captain Darrah, who then commanded Company D, he was of great assistance by his performance of a variety of clerical labors, in addition to the appropriate services of his position as Sergeant. During the summer of 1863, he was detailed for duty as Clerk in the Adjutant-General's office, at the Headquarters of the Division. On assuming this position, he son became conspicuous to a very unusual degree, considering the opportunities which his subordinate grade afforded, in the management of all matters pertaining to the office. He directed the labors of some five or six clerks who were under him, and had the sole charge and supervision, as well of the entire routine duties of the office, as frequently of important special duties, and of all its books and records. This latter were kept, under his direction, in so elegant and elaborate a manner as to elicit the admiration and praise of all who saw them.

Gen. James Ricketts

(History 10th Vt. Inf.)

Indeed, while he was at Division Headquarters, his labors in these particulars were looked upon as almost invaluable. And these were not all the services which he performed. Both in the field, along the march, and on the line of battle, he usually noted the position of the troops, the face of the country, and whatever he though deserving of record. This he had learned to do when out with General Pope. Accordingly, in making out their reports, the officers often resorted to his notes and usually place implicit reliance upon them. In fact, his minutes and observations were regarded and appealed to, as authority, not only throughout his regiment, but also at the Brigade and Division Headquarters. While in the performance of these various services, he, of course, became well acquainted with Brigadier-General Carr, and also with Brigadier-General Ricketts, who succeeded the former in the command of the division. It is said that these commanders made constant use of Mr. Read's acquirements. By them he was also frequently spoken of as qualified for staff-duty. Both of these Generals, as I am informed, and other officers of rank, had a high appreciation of his industry and ability, as well as of his fine social qualities. Indeed, it is said that General Ricketts of his own accord promised that he should have an appointment as Aid on his staff, on the next occurrence of a vacancy.

He thus served, and continued to act, faithfully as a non-commissioned officer until he entered upon the duties of Second Lieutenant, in Company D, of the Tenth Vermont Volunteers. He was mustered in, August tenth, 1864, his commission bearing date June seventeenth of the same year. This advancement, though coming, in the opinion of most of his friends, very late, was by them all regarded as well deserved. No sooner was he promoted to the Lieutenancy than he was, at his own request, relieved from his arduous duties at headquarters, that he might rejoin his regiment. In his new position of line officer he showed the same capacity and the same power of adaptation, that he had previously exhibited under other relations. But it was now in a higher sphere. From this time forward he displayed fine ability, not only in the discharge of the ordinary duties of the grade he sustained in his own company, but also in taking upon himself at different times the combined charge and responsibility of various companies when the regiment had become reduced in the complement of its line officers by the casualties of the service. His industry and zeal in the performance of all these labors, his knowledge of military affairs, as well as his courage and coolness in action, were remarkable, and probably unequaled by any other member of the regiment to which be belonged. December nineteenth, 1864, another commission was issued in his favor. By virtue of it, he was duly promoted to the First Lieutenancy in Company E, of the same regiment, on the sixth of February, 1865. This renewed recognition of his merits, like his preceding advancement, was generally regarded as faithfully earned and richly deserved.

Adjutant Lyman having been wounded at Cedar Creek, October nineteenth, Lieutenant Read was detailed on the same day to act in his place. On the subsequent promotion of Adjutant Lyman to the Majorate, the subject of this notice was mustered in as Adjutant, February twenty-fourth, 1865, his commission bearing the date of the second of the preceding month. As thus promoted he entered afresh upon the labors of the Adjutancy, and engaged in them with all the alacrity and vigor for which he was distinguished. It is hardly too much to say that he met the responsibilities of his new position with tireless energy and unfailing skill, conducting all its wearisome and fatiguing details with comparative ease and, according to the testimony of his predecessor, dispatching more work during the six weeks he held this grade, than is ordinarily done in as many months.

Having thus notice the more prominent points in Adjutant Read's military career, it may be well to refer briefly to the main actions in which he figured. During his service in the army, and subsequent to the fight at Big Bethel, with which had had to do, he was in many different conflicts. Indeed, he was present at, or in some wise connected with, most of the battles in which his regiment was engaged; and it is said that in every instance he evinced a prudence, skill, and valor becoming the position he occupied.

He had some part in the spirited encounter at Kelly's Ford, November seventh, 1863, when the Confederate rifle-pits, eighty prisoners and six hundred Enfield rifles, were taken. November eighth found him in the skirmishing which came off at Brandy Station, on the south side of the Rappahannock. On the twenty-seventh of November he was at Locust Grove, and participated actively in the severe fighting which then and there prevailed, securing the repulse of the enemy. He was also present at the battle of Mine Run, November eighteenth, his division acting as a support to the Fifth Corps.

On the opening of the spring campaign, in 1864, he was as usual at his post. from the diary which he kept while at headquarters, and in which he noted all the more important movements of the division to which he belonged, it is evident that he was in the various battles of the Wilderness in which his division was engaged, from May fifth to the eleventh, inclusive; that he was also in those of Spotsylvania, during the succeeding nine days up to the twenty-first; that he was likewise in the skirmish at Tolopotomy Creek, sometimes known as that of Gaines's Mills, May thirtieth and thirty-first; as well as in the severe fighting and amidst the dreadful carnage which occurred at Cold Harbor, from the first to the twelfth of June.

We next find him, pencil in hand, exposed t the severe shelling which occurred at Bermuda Hundreds, June nineteenth; and again on the twenty-second and twenty-third of the same month, in the hard fighting and under the scathing fire before Petersburg. July ninth he was in the conflict which took place, and the rebuff which was experienced, on the Monocacy. In the brilliant engagement which came off September nineteenth, and is commonly known as the battle of Opequon, at Winchester, he appeared in the new capacity of a Lieutenant. On this occasion he had charge of a skirmish line, performing a very hazardous and important service. A bullet struck his sword and glanced off; thus his life was saved. On the twenty-second of the same month he was present at, and took an active part in, the memorable flight at Fisher's Hill.

In the battle of Cedar Creek, which occurred October nineteenth, Lieutenant Read had charge of the color company. His command being at first repulsed, and forced to withdraw, he endeavored to preserve the line unbroken, and was the rearmost man in retiring. While thus fearlessly engaged in securing an orderly retreat, he was also, as usual, busily occupied, compass in hand, observing the various movements, and taking not of what was passing. Seeing his men moving hastily from the battle ground in his advance, and himself likely to be left in the rear, sketching an outline of the battle, he said, as the bullets were whizzing by: "Be cool, boys; don't hurry; it's no time for haste; I'm going fast enough." As he was afterwards advancing, a spent bullet hit the calf of his leg and bruised it considerably. Upon this he exclaimed: "I'm hit, boys, but it isn't much; let us on." Although suffering not a little pain, he refused to leave the field, and continued with his men through the day. During the following winter he was absent a few weeks on leave. He then visited his home, sought recreation in social pleasures, had early recollections revived, and enjoyed many pleasant chats with old friends and associates. Soon, however, he was back again with his regiment, which was at that time lying before Petersburg, in the vicinity of Warren Station. He wished to be with his companions, engaged in getting ready for the approaching campaign.

Shortly after this, and while the troops were still in camp, the writer of this memorial met Adjutant Read for he first time since the beginning of the war. During the few weeks that followed, before active operations commenced, he had several interesting interviews with Mr. Read, who spoke of by-gone days, of experiences in the army, and of his present duties and studies.

But anon the campaign opened in earnest -- and it was more than a month earlier that that of the preceding spring -- and this brings us to the closing scenes in the life of Adjutant Read. After the fighting of March twenty-fifth, it was decided that there should be an early effort to break the rebel lines. This was to be made, in part, by Brigadier-General Seymour's division of the Sixth Corps. With this end in view, a movement was initiated on the night of April first, and brought during the following day to a glorious issue, in which the Tenth Vermont largely participated. The troops moved out a little before midnight, and formed in front of fort Welch, which lies to the southwest of Petersburg, and on the left of Fort Fisher. At about four o'clock on the morning of the second, they made their first charge and were successful. They advanced, both officers and men being on foot, athwart dense abattis, through the mud and water of deep trenches, over immense earthworks, and made themselves masters of a redoubt which had formed part of the rebel line in their front. Then, wheeling to the left, they took another redoubt, and still another. It was between seven and eight o'clock in the morning-- after the capture of the third work, and in the vigorous attempt made to hold it -- that the Adjutant fell, struck in the heel by a ball which passed through his right foot. Upon the reception of this wound he was immediately placed in a log cabin which chanced to stand nearby. Our men being soon compelled to fall back for a season, the rebels entered the cabin, seized the Adjutant, rifled his pockets of money, watch and the like, and took from him his sword and belt, "but otherwise, " as he said afterwards, "treated him well enough." At the loss of his sword he felt, and subsequently expressed, especial regret, as it bore the marks of a bullet by which it was indented in the fight at Winchester. Our forces again advancing, he was retaken, the Confederates not having time to remove him; and thence he was conveyed in an ambulance to the division hospital, where he suffered the loss of his foot by amputation just above the ankle joint.

The assault made on the morning of the second required in all, and especially of the officers, great energy and coolness, no less than real bravery and firm persistency of effort. It was well known to the men generally, that the Confederate works were on well-chosen ground, of elaborate construction, and of vast strength. It was also supposed that they could never e taken without immense effusion of blood and great sacrifice of life. Then, again, it was the trial time long looked forward to with hope, and constantly kept in view with ever growing interest, as the gigantic preparations had been steadily pushed forward with unabating zeal. it was, so to speak, the pivot on which, if all went right, the successful issue of the war seemed about to turn. Under these circumstances it is no wonder that the men were burdened with anxiety, and that they marched out full of trembling solicitude, and with hesitating steps. So it is not a matter for surprise that the officers felt that a double burden rested upon themselves. But the Adjutant, as was the case with many others, seemed to rise with the emergency and to be equal to it. Making ready for the exigencies of the occasion, he was most assiduous in his own special field duty. He exerted himself more, as many have remarked, and showed far greater efficiency than usual in bearing dispatches, in rallying the faint-hearted, and urging all onward to victory. And in the entire action, as I am informed, he untied dash with his characteristic coolness and steadiness, falling at the extreme front, at the most critical moment of the day, disabled by a wound, from the effects of which he afterwards died.

And here it may be proper to refer to the feelings which the Adjutant experienced in view of the loss of his foot, and of the results of the victory won. They will be best expressed in his own words, taken from a letter, probably his last, which was written on Monday, April third, while he was in the hospital near Warren Station. The letter was found in his pocket-book, which, with his other effects, was sent home after his death. He wrote substantially as follows: "Dearest Father and Mother; We had a glorious day yesterday; captured thousands and thousands of prisoners. We charged and took the strong lines of the enemy, on which he depended to holt Petersburg, and we took all his artillery. It was a second Fisher's Hill, only far more glorious and important a victory." Again, sending a message to his sister, he says in the same missive, "Give her my dearest love, and tell her that yesterday's work fully pays us all for what we have lost. I can give my foot in such a cause with a god will."

The writer having returned from the front to Warren Station early Monday morning, saw the Adjutant six or eight times during the day, and endeavored to do all in his power to make him comfortable and alleviate his suffering, which at times wa intense. His loss of blood had been small. Most of the preceding night he was able to sleep. His stump was not swollen and seemed to be doing well. All things considered, he appeared to be in an unusually good condition. It should, however, be added that he had been previously somewhat weakened by a severe affection of the bowels, and was still suffering considerably from it. On his being taken to the cares there was a delay of several hours, which, with his subsequent ride, no doubt increased his weakness. He was furnished with a good supply of coffee and food. His lassitude being observed, a stimulating drink was also prepared for him, which he was indisposed to take. As the writer was unable in person to accompany the Adjutant on the train, on account of the great number of wounded men constantly arriving, he secured the services of the best man he could find, who agreed to look after him carefully by the way, to see him safe in the General Hospital at the Base, and report when the cars returned next morning.

A visit being made to City Point on Wednesday, April fifth, the Adjutant was at once looked up, and found to be in a more critical condition. According to the Surgeon-in-Chief, his system had never experienced a full reaction, and thus had failed to recover its tone since the amputation. Appearances seemed to indicated that there had been adequate nursing, and all due exercise of medical skill. During the afternoon and evening the writer was in to see the Adjutant four or five times, and did all he could to make him comfortable, not supposing for a moment that he would reach his earthly end for days, or even for several weeks. Under these circumstances it is more easy to imagine than to express the surprise he experienced on going into the hospital the next morning, and learning that at twelve o'clock the preceding night, which was that of April fifth, Adjutant Read breathed his last. His body was embalmed and sent to Burlington. It arrived there safely in a god state of preservation on Tuesday, April eleventh. The funeral took place on the afternoon of Friday, the fourteenth, -- an eventful day, and not soon to be forgotten by the family of the deceased or by the people of the United States. Yes, even in the annals of our country, it will long stand memorable at once for the restoration of the Union flag to Fort Sumter, and for the awful tragedy enacted at Washington, which deprived the nation of its honored dead. On this red-lettered day in connection with appropriate exercises, the remains of Adjutant Read were duly deposited in the family burial place, by the side of those of a departed brother and sister, amid the tears of his dearest surviving friends and the silent tokens of the sympathy and heartfelt sorrow of the citizens of his adopted town.

Thus Adjutant Read has passed away, his removal adding another to the large number of sad casualties connected with the closing scenes of the great rebellion. And in view of the event this hasty memorial has been prepared, the aim being neither to praise nor to blame, but to weave together the more prominent incidents of his life, and to give as correct a transcript as possible of the estimate in which he was held by his companions in arms. That he had faults and deficiencies none would be disposed to deny; that he also possessed marked excellences, both natural and acquired, all are ready to acknowledge. As to the general correctness of his religious opinions and sentiments no one acquainted with his early training, who ever talked with him on divine realities, need have a doubt. Respecting his personal experience in relation to God and eternity, the conversation had with him was while he was in pain, and the data furnished are too inadequate to authorize much definiteness of statement. Of his character and general bearing, his regiment speak with uniform commendation.

In his early departure we accordingly have occasion for unfeigned grief. A young man is cut down who is deeply mourned by surviving compatriots who have known him at home, by the fireside, in the camp and on the battlefield. That he was beloved in the army, no one need have better assurance than the writer. It was his fortune to bear the tidings of the Adjutant's untimely death to many of his regiment, thus to witness the deep emotion they evinced, and to gather evidence of the strong attachment which bound them to the departed. Indeed, one has been taken would could ill be spared; one whose powers of observation were superior, whose coolness and intrepidity are not often surpassed, and who was regarded as by far the best office man in the regiment. When the news of his death came there was a general feeling that in the latter particular no one left could make good his place. his true position, as friends have well observed, was that of a staff officer. For this he was fitted by his native bent and by long training; he was exact and had an aptness for the investigation of minutiae; while his working capacity was of a marked kind. With more than ordinary insight into principles, and the clear foresight which pertains to their distinct apprehension, he united a remarkable accuracy in particulars, and a willingness to delve in the investigation of those minor details which is often very irksome to otherwise superior minds. This union in him of these two opposite tendencies kept his mind clear and free from confusion. In fact few persons of as high intellectual power are so ready as was he to undergo the drudgery of the Adjutant's Office, and few succeed so well in the fulfillment of its duties. More than this, however, it should be borne in mind that the vicissitudes of war have taken from us a man of fine social qualities, of refined literary taste, and for one so young, of high scholarly attainments. Of these latter points no more can now be said for lack of time and of materials necessary to an adequate estimate.

But last though not least, in the death of the departed the army has experienced the loss of a skillful tactician and an intrepid soldier. He was more than ordinarily well reared in the science of war, and able to bring his knowledge to bear with practical efficiency. Says a companion in arms: "Taken all in all, Adjutant Read was a brave and efficient officer, filling every position to which he was assigned, with fidelity, credit and skill." But not merely as an officer was he deserving of praise; he was equally, perhaps more, conversant with the duties and trials of the private solider. Through the larger portion of his army experience he was without a commission. Thus, during the progress of the war he saw much active and hard service, and under a variety of circumstances. Like every other true man in the field he was exposed to many and frequent dangers; but for the most part he was remarkably fortunate; although his garments were occasionally rent by flying missiles which carry ruin in their train, he almost entirely escaped harm and remained without a scar.

Finally, however, he received the fatal stroke which has forever removed him from our mortal sight. Although he passed through many dangers unscathed, he has at last fallen. He is now cut down in his early prime, and just as a triumphant people is preparing to enjoy the fruits of a dearly brought and long wished peace. And as we think of his premature death, sorrow surges in our souls. Indeed, how can it well be otherwise? In his departure, we -- his kindred and acquaintances generally -- experience the loss of a genial companion; one who to good native ability added rare industry, fine culture and a high promise, accompanied by an assurance of hope that if his life were spared he would prove an honor to his friends, an adornment to his country, and render important aid to his day and generation. Yes, he is gone, offered as a sacrifice on the altar of his country; but, though he be gone, he yet lives -- his memory is freshly embalmed, is warmly cherished, and will long continue to flourish -- in the hearts of many surviving friends.


"Death of Lieut. James M. Read -- It is with pain that we announce the death of Lieut. James M. Read, Co. B, Tenth Vermont Infantry, from wounds received in the late, bloody battles near Petersburg. He was the son of David Read, Esq. of this city."

"Through all the fighting of the Wilderness, before Petersburg, at the Battle of the Monocracy, at Winchester, Fisher Hill and Cedar Run, Lieut. Read bore himself as becoming a brave soldier."

"Had our friend lived, he would doubtless have risen to eminence as a staff officer, for which he was so well fitted by nature and education. He has fallen while helping to give the Rebellion its death blow and a nobler epitaph we might not write."

Military Record: READ, James Marsh, Enlisted 2 May 1861 in the 1ST. Regiment, Vermont Infantry; mustered in 9 May 1861, assigned to Company H, rank private. Mustered out with his regiment 15 August 1861. Re-enlisted 31 July 1862 in the 10TH Regiment, Vermont Infantry; mustered in 1 September 1862, assigned to Company D, rank of Sergeant; promoted 2ND Lieutenant, Company D, 17 June 1864; promoted 1ST. Lieutenant, Company E, 19 December 1864; Commissioned Adjutant 2 January 1865; Brevet Captain 2 April 1865 for gallantry in the assault on Petersburg. Wounded 19 October 1864; died 6 April 1865 of wounds received 2 April 1865.
Blodgett, "Burial Records, Vermont Adjutant General". Burlington Free Press, April 7, 1865, p. 1.
Source: E. M. Haynes, "A History of the Tenth Regiment, Vt. Vols, with Biographical Sketches…," The Tuttle Company, Rutland, 1894) pp. 193-203.
Revised Roster, pp. 391, 393 and 736.

Contributed by: Ken St. Germain, Burlington

Photograph from the 10th Infantry history, scanned by Deanna French.