Wilder, Orcas C.
Age: 34, credited to Waitsfield, VTVITALS
Birth: 05/09/1828, UnknownADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Alias?: None notedDESCENDANTS
Village Cemetery, Waitsfield, VT
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and other veterans who may be buried there.
Orcas C. Wilder, son of Levi and Bernice Bates Wilder, was born at Waitsfield, Vt., May 9th, 1828. His father and grandfather were among the early settlers of the town of Waitsfield and of the old Puritan stock of Massachusetts. They originally came from England where it has been possible to trace the genealogy of Nicholas Wilder a military chieftain in the army of the Earl of Richmond at the battle of Bosworth in 1485. [Orcas] was reared on the old Wilder farm, received a common school education with one term at Randolph Centre Academy, and at the age of 20 learned the carpenter's trade, which he followed for several years up to the time that he bought the farm on which he has since lived. February 11th, 1855, he was married to Mary Elizabeth Holden, youngest daughter of Elijah and Orpha Holden of Waitsfield, Vt., and to them seven children were born as follows: Alice M., born August 11st, 18566, married Orville H. Richardson of Waitsfield, now residing in Montpelier, Vt. Frederic F., born September 18th, 1858, married, living in Waitsfield, Vt. Levi O., born March 12th, 1865, married living in Middlesex, Vt. Enos E., born April 28th, 1867, died September 22nd, 1896. Ellen F., born September 14th, 1869, married Rev. F. M. Buker of Lewiston, Me., now residing in North Sterling, Conn. Josephine C., born August 11th, 1873, married Frank H. Brown of Waitsfield, Vt., now residing in Burlington, Vt. Roy J., born August 30th, 1875, married, living in Springfield, Mass.
Above I have given you a little of my personal history and now will add something of my army life. In 1862 when the call came from President Lincoln for 300,000 o months' men, I felt that duty called me, and leaving my wife and two small children with the care of our large farm, I enlisted august 17th, 1862. A few days were spent in getting men to enlist and August 25th, 1862 a company was organized, known ad Company B of the 13th Vermont, of which I was chosen Captain. We drilled for several weeks and September 30th, were ordered to Brattleboro where October 10th we were mustered into the service and on October 11th left for Washington, d. C., and from that time on we were Uncle Sam's soldiers. During the first days of our encampment First Lieutenant Nathaniel Jones Jr. was taken sick and died October 30th. His death was the first break in our ranks and it cast a gloom over the whole company, for Jones was a brave man and excellent soldier, whose place could not easily be filled. One little incident which occurred while we were encamped on Capitol Hill, emphasized the sturdy New England bravery of our boys. It was the next morning after a severe wind and rain storm had struck us in the night, blowing down more than half of our tents, that the surgeon, making his morning rounds, remarked as he found the boys shivering from the cold, that he pitied them, whereupon one of the soldiers replied that he didn't, if anyone was dam fool enough to come down there he didn't deserve any pity. we all well remember our rapid moves from Capitol Hill to Camp Seward, from Camp Seward to Hunting Creek, from Hunting Creek to Camp Vermont where we made a longer stay, then the midnight march to Fairfax Station and Union Mills, the return to Camp Vermont in a blinding snow storm during which many of the boys took severe colds from which they never recovered, then back to Fairfax Court House. And it was during our stay there that we were detailed to a three days' picket duty at Centerville where we suffered intensely from the severe cold weather and after returning one of our party, Oscar Reed, was taken to the hospital where he died within a few days. It was here also that Stuart's Raid occurred, and I well remember that one of my boys, Alonzo Bruce, who had been ill in the hospital at Fairfax Court House and ran away from there to join his company, stood in the front ranks as I passed up the line in review. Knowing that he was not able to endure what we might have to encounter, I told him he would have to fall out which he did only to fall in again in the rear ranks. As I returned I was him and again told him he must not go, reluctantly he stepped out saying to me as he did so, "Captain I want you to remember one thing and that is when there's anything up I want my shake in."
On January 20th, 1863 we moved to Wolf Run Shoals and on that date occurred the death of another brave comrade, John Canerday. While here about twenty-five of my Company were taken sick with the measles and the rest of us were excused from all duties for a period of two weeks or more to care for the sick. Several of the boys never entirely recovered from the effects of this illness. Our next move was to Camp Widow Violet near Occoquan ferry, where we had to draw all of our supplies from Fairfax Station with teams and when the Rebs seized our horses together with several men, three of whom belonged to my company, the Colonel was quite enraged, although the men were allowed to return, so next day when my company reached the ferry on their way across the river for a day of forage, that had been allowed us, I asked the Colonel if he had any orders to give and he said, "Yes, take every dam thing you can lay your hands on." We returned with five work horses, which were used to fill the vacant places on the teams, one grey mare and one three year old colt. The Colonel took the mare and I the colt. Not very long after this, the government sent us teams with orders to give up all horses that were not private property. The Colonel rode over to my tent to ask me what I purposed to do with the grey colt. I told him I should keep it and he said he should keep the grey mare, which he did until she was shot from under him at the battle of Gettysburg, where I lost my colt.
From Camp Widow Violet we were ordered to Gettysburg where we remained until after that memorable three day's fight which will ever live in our memories as a battle nobly fought and bravely won. As we turned our faces homeward, marching over the mountain to Middletown, Maryland, I found myself too sick to keep up with the Company and Dr. Nichols induced me to ride in the ambulance which I thought was not much easier than walking until I got out at the foot of the mountain, and in company with Captain Lonergan, tried it again. But we soon came to a small house and entering found it to contain two rooms, one below and one above, with a bed in the lower room, of which we took possession without permission. We were too tired to remove our boots and it would have been a query which was the cleaner the bed or the boots. Here we spent the night but not alone for soon the house was filled from top to bottom with other soldiers, and about 11 o'clock some one asked if Captain Wilder was there. I answered and was told that I had a very sick man outside. I went out and found Lieutenant Albert Clarke of Company G. He was a very sick man indeed and I took him in and onto the bed and then called to know if there was a surgeon in the house. One from a Michigan regiment responded and with the aid of Captain Lonergan, we were able to ease his sufferings. During the years which have passed since that night, many are the things that Colonel Clarke has reminded me of this incident. we were mustered out July 1st, 1863 and returned to our homes where a few who were ill at the time, soon died. They being Sergeant Thayer, John Baird and Albert Barnard. Albert was a brave soldier and at the battle of Gettysburg, when the order came to cease firing and the Johnies were running back, he turned to me and said "Mayn't I fire?" he did so and remarked that there was one who would never get back. Of the boys who went out with us, I have already spoken of the death of six brave comrades and to that number must add the names of Carlos Turner, Benjamin Reed, William Hathaway, Cyron Thayer and Charles billings, all of whom died during the service. As I look back over the years of my life I can find no period that ever gave me more happiness, or work that I felt better satisfied with, than the time spent and work done while in the army.
ORCAS C. WILDER.
A Tribute By E. A. Fisk.
Captain Wilder's grandfather and father came to Waitsfield only two or three years after its first settlement by General Benjamin Wait, and the farm upon which they were the first settlers is the same owned of late by Captain O. C. Wilder and now by his son. Levi Wilder, the father of Orcas C., was a captain of militia in the old "June training" days. Although Captain Orcas learned his carpenter's trade and worked at it to some extent for a few years in early manhood he has always been a farmer and he soon gave his entire attention to that calling and became one of the most successful farmers in town. He rebuilt and enlarged his barns, as occasion required, making them commodious and convenient, and his stock, tools, and farm machinery were of the best type.
From the beginning of the war Captain Wilder was intensely interested in the success of the Union Armies and the restoration of our national integrity and ardently desired to take an active part in the great work, but at first this seemed to be impossible. When President Lincoln issued his call for 300,000 nine months' men, however, he saw in it a call for personal service and found a way to accomplish the seemingly impossible. He assisted in recruiting a company from MAd River Valley which was organized August 25th, 1862, and of which he was the unanimous choice for captain. Of his service in the army we need only say that so far as we know he performed every duty that fell to his lot faithfully and well. He was always ready when the call to duty came and quick to see and prompt to act where ought was left to his discretion. To some one who wrote to him inquiring what he thought of Captain Wilder, our orderly Sergeant wrote in May, 1863: "My position has been such that I have had as good an opportunity and perhaps the best opportunity of anyone in the company to learn what the captain is. * * And you may tell anyone that inquires that I think that Captain wilder has done as well as a captain could and that if our company was coming back again here there is no one bur him that could have my vote for captain."
At the battle of Gettysburg he showed himself to be, not only a good soldier, brave and true, but a cool and capable officer who managed his own company well and was able to understand much of the general movements of the troops about him, and thus render intelligent service when his company and regiment were called into action.
Since the war he has shown a very great interest in all that pertains to its history or to the welfare of his old soldier comrades. He was a charter member of Ainsworth Post G.A.R., and was chosen its commander at an early date. If he did not attend a meeting of the Post we knew that there was some good reason for his absence and his interest in Memorial day and the exercises was unfailing, so that we are led to cry out: "Who will take the place and show the interest in the soldier living and dead, that was manifested by Captain Wilder and his good wife?"
When our Regimental Reunion Association was organized he was one of the prime movers to give it a start and few members of the regiment have been more constant in attendance at its meetings or have shown a greater interest in every way. Although not greatly given to speech-making he could express his ideas clearly and forcibly when occasion required, and we believe that there are few members of the association whose absence would be generally felt. And to sum all up, whether in his home, in community, in GAR Circles, wherever he was known he will be missed for a long time, in fact till thos best acquainted with him have passed away.
The Captain's wife died suddenly just before they reached the 50th anniversary of their marriage but he was not left long to mourn her loss and the end came suddenly to him also. He was instantly killed by a fall in his barn. Doubtless Captain Wilder had his faults, and who of us had not, but we would rather dwell upon his many excellencies. As we think upon his life two traits of character appear to stand our very prominently. These are his promptness and energy. Not only in army life but in all his business affairs he was always prompt. On his large farm it was his aim to perform every duty at the right time and very few farmers came nearer living up to that rule. All his farm operations were in seasons, whether you speak of one day's work or the whole year and to this trait may be attributed no small share of his success in farming. Again, whatever he undertook, whether carpentry, or soldiering or farming he went at it with a will. Even his recreating were no exception to this rule. Years ago I heard him express very nearly the same idea that President Roosevelt did to a class of boys when he said: "When you play, play hard, but when you work, don't play at all." His motto might well have been "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
EDWARD A. FISK.
Credits: Biographical data from "Biographical and Historical of Co. B, Thirteenth Regiment Vermont volunteers Civil War, 1861-1865," in Ralph Orson Sturtevant's, "Pictorial History: Thirteenth Vermont Volunteers, War of 1861-1865." Privately published, 1910, pp 449-51; Additional information and photographs provided courtesy of Julie Wilder, Montpelier, Orcas's 2nd-great-granddaughter; sword photograph courtesy of Brian Wilder, Atlanta, Ga., Orcas's 2nd-great-grandson.