’s newly restored Civil War Soldier’s Monument was just re-dedicated this past spring. It was built in 1864 to commemorate the Newton men that died in that war.
Each month this year, Katy Holmes from Newton’s Planning Dept has been compiling biographies, 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.
Here are two soldier’s stories:
Thomas Duran (August)
At the age of 18, Thomas Duran enlisted with the Mass. 18th, Company F in August 1861. Prior to enlisting Thomas worked as a laborer and lived with his family in Upper Falls, in a house on Chestnut Street near its intersection with Elliot. Thomas was born in Ireland c.1845, and his parents were Patrick and Mary.
Thomas enlisted as a private and was promoted to Sargent on March 1, 1864. He also enlisted on the same day as Michael Vaughn, aged 21, a machinist from Upper Falls, who enlisted as a Private in the Union Army on August 24, 1861.
On August 30, the 18th mustered out and camped just outside of the Capital near Fort Corchoran, Va. On September 26th the 18th was moved to the front and camped near Hall’s Hill, VA, which served as the Union outpost. The 18th joined other regiments here for drills and picket duty over the winter. Michael was discharged from this camp with a disability on December 24, 1861, and died on January 4, 1862 in Washington D.C. Thomas mustered out on September 2, 1864. Though the soldier card for Thomas Duran states that he survived the war, a pension card for Mary Duran (his mother) was found, which showed an application date of October 7, 1864.
The Mass 18th, Company F fought in all the major battles in the war, and at the end of the three year enlistment period, which ended for most in September 1864, Mass 18th companies joined the Mass 32nd, which contained a number of Newton men. Many of the men who fought in the Mass. 18th were from Bristol, Norfolk and Plymouth Counties, located in the southeast portion of the state including the Cape.
What happened to Duran and or where he might be buried is not clear.
John Forsyth, Jr. (July)
The appearance of John Forsyth’s name on the Newton Soldiers’ Monument is one of the bigger mysteries in this soldier bio research effort. In short, we have no idea why his name is on the Newton monument. Not that he is unwelcome, of course. Born in 1836, John lived in Waltham, MA when he enlisted with the Mass. 16th Infantry, Company H, as a Private. John was a 27 year-old carpenter who enlisted with other Waltham men and joined a Cambridge-based regiment on June 29, 1861. Of the 25 Waltham men from Company H who died in the Civil War, five of them, including John, were killed at Gettysburg two years later on July 2 or 3rd, 1863. John had earned the rank of Sergeant at the time of his death on July 2nd.
The City of Waltham has honored John Forsyth Jr. as one of its own in both local histories and centennial celebrations. Though not immediately obvious as to why Newton should honor him as well, we can safely assume that in 1864 it was important to someone that John Forsyth be honored with Newton soldiers.