Randall, Francis Voltaire
Age: 36, credited to Montpelier, VTVITALS
Birth: 02/13/1824, Braintree, VTADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Alias?: None notedDESCENDANTS
Elmwood Cemetery, Northfield, VT
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and other veterans who may be buried there.
Francis Voltaire Randall, son of Gurdon R. and Laura Scott (Warner) Randall, was born in Braintree, Vt., February 13, 1824, and died in Northfield, Vt., March 1, 1885. He was buried in Elmwood Cemetery, Northfield, where a granite shaft, set up by his comrades in arms in memory of their beloved leader, marks his resting place.
In 1828, his parents removed to Northfield, where he attended the district school in the winter, working on a farm with his father, and at carpentry in the summer. Later he attended for a few terms the academy at Chester, Vt., and taught school winters. He studied law with the Hon. Heman Carpenter of Northfield, 1845-48, and was admitted to the Washington County bar in November, 1848; practiced his profession in Northfield, 1848-57; Roxbury, Vt., 1857-60; Montpelier, Vt., 1860-61, 1865-76. In his profession, he was eminently successful, being one of the ablest advocates before juries at the Washington County bar.
He was commissioned captain, Company F, 2d Vermont Infantry, May 20, 1861; served in the battles of Bull Run, Lees Mills, Williamsburg, Goldings Farm, Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, and Crampton's Gap. He resigned September 9, 18C2, to return to Vermont to assist in enrolling more troops for the service. He took an active part in raising the 13th Vermont Infantry and was commissioned its colonel, September 24, 1862. In this work, he was assisted by W. D. Munson, '54, later lieutenant-colonel of the regiment, and by George Nichols, M. D., later surgeon of the regiment. At the battle of Gettysburg, July 1-4, 1863, the 13th Vermont lead by its gallant colonel, rendered conspicuous service and gained for themselves an immortal name in the war history of our country for the gallantry displayed in this decisive battle. Notable, during the second day's fight, Colonel Randall, at the request of General Hancock, recaptured a battery that had been lost to the Confederates and turned with terrible effect upon our own men who had been unable to silence it For their gallantry in this heroic charge, General Hancock personally and on the field, complimented Colonel Randall and his command. To this regiment belongs the distinction of repulsing General Pickett's famous charge in this battle. He was mustered out of service, July 21, 1863, and began immediately to recruit the 17th Vermont Volunteers; was commissioned its colonel, February 10,1864; served with distinction in the battles of the Wilderness, the siege of Petersburg and the capture of Lee's army, and finally was mustered out of the service, July 14, 1865.
Returning to Montpelier, Colonel Randall spent several years in looking after business interests that had been more or less neglected and of a miscellaneous sort; and from 1876 to 1883, he engaged in farming in Brookfield, Vt. In 1884, he bought the old hotel at Northfield Center, later used as the "N. U." mess hall, where he lived until his death. In politics he was, before the war, a Democrat; after it, a Republican. He was postmaster of Northfield, 1853-57. He represented Roxbury in the House of Representatives, from 1857 to 1859, and was state's attorney of Washington County in 1859.
He took great interest in the welfare of "N. U." serving as vice-president from 1883 until his death and as trustee, 1882-89; received from the University the honorary degree of A. M. He was always ready to give of his time and means to serve the University; gave assistance in securing the State aid in 1884. He once said of "N. U.": "To see her future permanent and secure would be glory enough for me if my whole life's work besides were blotted out." He was a member of DeWitt Clinton Lodge, F. and A. M., of Northfield, and the G.A.R.; honorary member 8 X Fraternity.
He was twice married: first, July 3, 1846, to Caroline Elizabeth Andrus of Connecticut. Three children were born to them: Charles Woodbridge, born May 14, 1847, died October 20, 1868; Francis Voltaire, born April 3, 1851, resides in northern Vermont ; Zella Valeria, born in 1854, and died in infancy. He was married the second time, December 6, 1863, to Fanny Gertrude Colby of South New Market, N. H., who died in Ellendale, N.D., October 26, 1893. Three children were born to them: Phil Sheridan, "N.U.," '86; Gurdon Colby, born December 21, 1867, died July 20, 1868; Luther Volney, born March 4, 1875, and resides in Flaxton, N. D.
William Arba Ellis, Norwich University 1819-1911, Her History, Her Graduates, Her Roll of Honor, (Capital City Press, Montpelier, 1911, vol. iii), pp. 67-68
Lamoille Newsdealer: SEPT. 6, 1861
NARROW ESCAPE OF CAPTAIN RANDALL AND G.W. DOTY
The following thrilling account of Capt. Randall's escape from death by drowning is from a letter from his own pen;
GREAT FALLS, ON THE POTOMAC
12 MILES FROM CAMP LYON: AUG. 26
I have just got your letter, and as I can't do anything else I will write you again. I get all your letters very regularly. We are at Camp Lyon, where Byron and the 3d Regiment are, but we were sent on a scout up the river a week ago today, and are here yet. We shall probably go back soon. We are in an awful rough works. Our pickets were fired into this morning. We are right opposite to where the rebels have quite a force, but they are some miles inland. Our directions require our Colonel to send over a scouting party to reconnoitre, and last Wednesday I was ordered to select such men as I thought proper, and cross the river if a place could be found where it could be done. I took George Doty alone with me, and we crossed some three miles above here on a raft, but it was so poor we had to swim some, and we took no clothes but our own shirts and drawers. Great Falls is one of the roughest places in all the country, and the current very swift for some miles above. We however got over in safety and explored as far as we could through the afternoon, and when the night came we returned to the river having been six miles into the country without being seen. Now George Bridgman and Amos Benett had been sent to get a boat to take us back, but they had to go seven miles further up the river to find one and did not get back, as it proved, till night. Doty and I were wet and cold, and we thought we could run our old raft back, and as night was fast approaching we launched out, but we were so near the falls that we could not manage it, and soon saw that in all probability we should go over the falls. We had now got where the water was one tremendous foam and running as swift as a horse, and we poor devils pitching and tumbling, and not over eighty rods from the precipice. We now left the raft, as that had become shattered and nearly gone to pieces and took to swimming. We managed to reach a large rock that projected out of the water and clung to that, and finally drew ourselves on to it. We were now ten rods from the shore and between us and shore run the most furious part of the river. We were now out of hearing and no way left but to again try our swimming skill.
Doty being the best swimmer plunged in, but my blood chilled in my veins as I saw him carried down, like lightning. But he put forth all his efforts, and reached a point of rock on the shore. He beckoned me (he could not be heard from the roar of the water) to try the experiment. He went to the camp, and the whole regiment came pouring down to help me off that point on which I stood. It made me shed tears to see the anxiety of the soldier boys to help me safely off. This was done by a long rope sent from an island above. It was night, and I was badly bruised, and standing so long in the water was chilled almost to death. I have not left my room yet, but they are going to carry me down to camp on the ambulance tomorrow. I took an emetic yesterday, and feel better today. I think I shall be well soon. Doty is very lame, but did not take such a cold as I did.
Submitted by Deanna French.
Col. F.V. Randall of Northfield died suddenly of apoplexy on Sunday, aged 61. He was a prominent practicing lawyer and vice president of Norwich university. During the war he was first captain of Company F, Second Vermont and afterward colonel of the Thirteenth Vermont, and again colonel of the Seventeenth Vermont, which he organized.
Vermont Phoenix, March 6, 1885
Courtesy of Tom Boudreau.
Check out this soldier's correspondence in the "Roswell Farnham" Correspondence" Collection at the UVM Libraries Center for Digital Initiatives "Vermonters in the Civil War" Collection