13th Vermont Infantry
Biographical and Historical of Co. C
Thirteenth Regiment Vermont Volunteers
Civil War 1861-1865
Dedicated in loving memory of Lieut. William E. Martin, killed near Petersburg,
Va., July 30, 1864, was at time of death 1st Lieut. Co. E,
17th Regiment Vt. Vols.
There is no particular occasion for a preface to the history of Company C. The individual mention of each member of this company contains all, and likely more than should have been said. It is a difficult and embarrassing situation after the lapse of forty-five years to recall to mind even the names of many of one's company associates and to write of the comparative merits of this company and its personal (sic), and be brief and accurate, is no small and easy task. The comrades who may read the company history of Company C must take into consideration that only a few facts can be recalled to memory at this time, even of the recruiting days, elections of officers and drill before we started for Brattleboro, Vt., to be mustered in as a regiment. Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Marshfield, Plainfield and Worcester under the call of August for 300,000, were bound to respond by way of volunteers or submit to a draft. The situation was canvassed by the selectmen of the several towns and decided to call public meetings and arrange for recruiting volunteers and in this way avoid a draft. It was ascertained that a number equal to one full company would be required to fill the quotas of these towns and therefore the several boards of selectmen as agents of the town and by the authority of Governor Holbrook, commenced to recruit a company to join the 13th Regiment to be raised in Chittenden, Franklin, Washington, Lamoille and Grand Isle counties. The selectmen and others in a few days secured volunteers for a company to be organized from such as had enrolled from Berlin, Calais, East Montpelier, Marshfield, Plainfield and Worcester. there was a very proper feeling of pride in these towns that a company should be organized and officered and known as from this group of towns. By mutual agreement and approved of proper authority a day was fixed and East Montpelier selected to meet and organize a company, and on the 29th of August, 1862, the volunteers assembled and a company was organized and called East Montpelier company. The nucleus of this move and desire to have a company from this section was the old militia company called the Lafayette Artillery of Calais. This militia company had sown the seeds of pride and ambition among the young men and boys and the patriotic citizens which resulted in the enthusiastic organization of a home company, and all were proud and happy when the East Montpelier company was fully organized.
Lewis L. Coburn, of East Montpelier, was enthusiastically chosen captain in suitable recognition of ability and other important qualifications for such a position. East Montpelier also furnished more recruits for this company than any other town. George S. Robinson had been active and was educated at Norwich, and therefore well qualified, and also from the town of Berlin, that furnished quite a large number of recruits., hence properly chosen first lieutenant. William E. Martin, coming from Marshfield, which town furnished almost an equal number to East Montpelier and Berlin, was chosen second lieutenant. The non commissioned officers were distributed among the several towns, so as to recognize all, making selections upon consultation with a view of harmony and suitable material for the quite important positions. The organization with very little friction or much disappointment was completed. All could not be officers, and but few, if any, enlisted because of office. I know that there was first class material among the privates of Company C, who served as such to the end that would have filled with credit and honor any of the official positions if they had been selected. No bitterness of feeling was manifested, because of the selections made for officers. But little thought or care as to office; nearly all thought of the crisis that induced them to volunteer instead of office. This company at once commenced to drill, and make other preparations to leave for the front to take active part in the impending struggle. It is proper as a matter of history to state that when the officers of all the companies that had been chosen assembled at Montpelier September 24 to organize the 13th Regiment, some effort was made by the East Montpelier Company to secure recognition for position among the field officers to be chose. The friends of Captain Lewis L. Coburn were anxious, and sought to advance him as a candidate for lieutenant-colonel. It was evident to all that captain Coburn was in every way qualified for this position. The officers of the line (and only such had votes) were together for the first time and acquaintance of course limited, and there was no time to make a thorough canvass to ascertain the general failing, or if others were seeking the same position. Captain Coburn was a very modest gentleman and would not unduly urge promotion. He had been harmoniously chosen captain and was much attached to the boys who had loyally supported him and was averse to making a contest for lieutenant-colonel, and especially after he ascertained that Captain Andrew C. Brown, of the Montpelier and Barre Company, was a candidate for the same position. Though East Montpelier Company at the request of their captain with good grace withdrew from urging the advancement of Captain coburn quite a good number supported him on the first ballot. Some of the more enthusiastic friends of Captain Coburn were a little disappointed, and yet it was perhaps just as well.
(WILLIAM ALLEN COOPER)
Source: Sturtevant, Ralph Orson. "Pictorial History: Thirteenth Vermont Volunteers, War of 1861-1865." Privately published, 1910.