The Newton Civil War Soldier’s Monument stands near the entry to the Newton Cemetery. It was built in 1864 to commemorate the Newton men that died in that war.
It had fallen into disrepair over recent decades but was restored last fall, thanks to a Community Preservation Act (CPA) grant.
Katy Holmes from Newton’s Planning Dept was asked to research and write about the history of the monument for the grant application. As she worked, Katy was drawn deeper and deeper into the individual soldier’s stories. She has compiled a biography, from all available records, for each soldier who’s name appears on the monument. Throughout this year, Katy has been releasing biographies on the month of each soldier’s death.
For March, here’s one soldier’s story:
Thomas W Clifford.
Thomas W. Clifford, 18, worked on a farm in Newton when he enlisted with 22 other Newton men listed on the Monument on August 13, 1862 with the Mass. 32nd Regiment, Company K. Four months later, Clifford was reported missing from Fredericksburg, VA. Though his return date is not known, he later served with Company L of the Ohio artillery, but his death due to disease is recorded as a loss to Company K of the Mass 32nd.
Company K was formed by Joseph Cushing Edmands, a Newton man who was a first sergeant in the Mass. 24th, and who, after recovering from illness at home in the spring of 1862, formed a new company comprised largely of Newton men. In late summer of 1862, the Mass. 32nd was sent to Fort Monroe in Hampton Roads, Virginia. By this time, Edmands had been promoted to Major. From Fort Monroe, they marched to Centreville and fought at the Battle of Bull Run on August 30th. The Mass. 32nd also fought at Antietam, MD from September 16-17th; Blackford’s Ford on the 19th; and was in Sharpsburg, MD until October 30th. From there the regiment moved to Falmouth, Virginia and fought in the Battle of Fredericksburg, which lasted from December 11-15, 1862. Clifford was reported missing on December 13th, but was later found, likely serving with the Ohio Artillery. The Mass 32nd went on to fight at Gettysburg, but it is unclear whether Clifford was with the 32nd at that time. He died on March 21, 1864.
Clifford was born in Ireland in 1844, and by 1860 was residing with the Kingsbury family in Newton, most likely in Chestnut Hill. Clifford was first buried on Wood’s Farm near Brandy Station, but was later re-interred at the National Cemetery in Culpeper, VA. Clifford appears alphabetically on the monument and his name was listed there when the monument was dedicated in July 1864.