FRANCIS C. GREEN IN THE CIVIL WAR
Francis C. Green, called “Frank,” was born about 1829 in England. By 1850, Frank was living in Newark, New Jersey and working as a carriage trimmer. He was said to be a gifted mechanic and a diligent worker. He was also a musician. Francis had a good sense of humor and a positive outlook on life. On June 14, 1855, Frank married Catherine (“Kate”) Traver in New York City. The marriage took place at the home of Kate’s sister, Eleanor Monfort. Seven family members were present and a Methodist Episcopal minister presided. After their marriage, the newlyweds lived in Poughkeepsie, Dutchess Co., N.Y., where Kate grew up. Kate was a member of a large and old Dutchess Co. family, most of whom were still living there. Frank and Kate had a daughter named Cora born on April 4, 1856. On February 4, 1860, they had a son they named Charles.
When the Civil War came, Frank signed up with the 150th N.Y. Infantry, Co. B, at Poughkeepsie. He enlisted on October 2, 1862, and was mustered in the next day. His army enlistment record says he was born in London, was 5' 4 ½" tall, with gray hair, hazel eyes and fair complexion. He was assigned to the infantry band. John L. Green, Captain of Co. F, 150th N.Y., enlisted with Frank. John Monfort, Eleanor’s husband, also enlisted, along with several other Monforts. Eventually Kate’s brothers Ludlow and George also enlisted, as did another brother-in-law, Lewis Hammond.
Frank wrote many letters to his wife while he was in service, sending affection to his wife and children and telling news about various people he and Kate knew. On December 16 of 1862, Frank wrote he was at Camp Belger building bunks and hoping to sleep in them the next day. He was enjoying the music. Part of his letter says:
I get along first rate with the Band. Samuel Cables is in the Band to play the Symbolus. Chas Hopkins is playing a Trombone. A brother of the Chaplain is leader of the Band.
On June 12, 1863, still at Belger Barracks, he wrote Kate about a big party there:
Yesterday we left at daylight for to turn out for 7 loges of Odd Fellows (Dutch princeply). They had another Band, also Orchestra of the Front St Theatre. We had the best picknick I ever went to. We got 2 dollars. I send you half of it. They had Dances, Speeches, Frolicking, Concert singing, Bands playing and Lager beer. And everyone enjoyed it tiptop. Today we play in Druid Hill Park. Tonight we serenade Coln Elliott. On Monday night we play for the Floral Festival for Ice Cream.
Frank went from there to Gettysburg, where he became fast friends and tent-mate with Charles Benton. After Gettysburg, they lay at Kelly’s Ford, Virginia. There, in September, Frank became gravely ill with typhoid and sunstroke. Frank’s fellow soldiers did their best to keep him comfortable and to take care of him in camp. Ultimately he was sent to Washington Hall hospital in Alexandria, Va. He wrote that he was very thankful for the rest, a good bed and clean clothes, also a “wash all over which made me feel like a different man.” He added, “we had a very hard time comeing on, shook to pieces rideing 9 miles in an ambulance.” He wrote of a long wait after the ambulance, then a long train ride with almost nothing to eat on the way to the hospital. At the hospital he expected a box Kate sent him, which box never came. That box became a theme of several later letters.
Frank was sent from the hospital to Camp Chase near Columbus, Ohio. He didn’t know what would become of him then. October 16, 1863, he wrote:
I rather think it will either be at a Hospital in Cincinati...to see if I am fit to join the Regement or not, if fit, I will be sent of[f]. The Regiment is about 1000 miles from here down the Missisipi river. it takes about a week to go there. I would rather stay here. Wm Stillwell and myself has got a fancy little House of [our] own with a Stove Table Bench Bunk &c. fited up as comfortably as could be, but that is a Soldiers Fortune to meet with disapointment at every turn.
In the fall of 1863, Frank’s brigade was attached to the 12th Corps. They left Virginia to join the Western Army, then at Chattanooga, Tennessee. After reaching Alabama on this march, the brigade to which their regiment was attached was sent back into Tennessee. They remained in Tennessee during the winter of ‘63 and ‘64 doing guard duty on the Nashville and Chattanooga R.R. By November 1, 1863, Frank rejoined his brigade. That date he wrote Kate about having comfortable accommodations for the winter for both the regiment and the band. He wrote:
It is about 9 miles below here that the Rebs blew up that Locomotive and tore up the track while the 12 Corps was on the march. It is a pretty wild country. The rations are very scanty. They have been on ½ rations & no coffee which makes it a little tough on the front. they are still scantier than us. They are on less than ½ rations.
Here he finally got the remains of Kate’s box. His fellow band members ate up all the food and saved a few things for him – comb, writing paper, shirt and stockings.
Frank wintered in Normandy, Tennessee, enjoying Kate’s reading material about events is Poughkeepsie. On March 13, 1864, he wrote:
It is reported in the papers that the 11th 12th 13th & 15th Army Corps are to return to the Army of the Potomac in Virginia, but Captain Woodin says there is nothing in the reports and I hope there is not for I have a horror for Virginia. The Engeniers on this Road has asked that this C--- remain this summer but that don’t amount to much. there is no prospects particular of our moveing for some time.
He advised Kate to tell a friend to try to enlist now as they “will give all a faire chance.” He also observed: “every train going North has lots of Famileys runing away from the Rebs like Rats, Men, wimen & children.” He talked about going out rabbit hunting with his tent mate and several friends. They had 6 hounds and got 5 rabbits. Then
the other night we went out to Mr. Rowsburoughs House and gave him a serenade. we was Guarded by a Squad of Men under Capt Scofield and Maj Smith. after playin we went in and had some good singing and playing on a dulcimer.
He asked Kate to tell him if she was in debt. He couldn’t do anything about it, but he wanted to know.
Frank was still in Normandy March 27, 1864, but they were getting ready to move out. His letter that date commiserated with Kate about much sickness at home and about their boy Charley with scarlet fever. He tried to boost Kate’s spirits about hardships and upheavals at home and told her he was glad she went dancing with her brother Ludlow.
Well the long talk of time has come at last we are under orders to be ready to march in twenty four hours notice. We expect to go to the front to engage in the Spring Campaign which is nearly ready to commence. Oh! How I hope that we may be able to baffle every design of the Rebs and give them the most wholesumb thrashing they was ever blessed with for it would be a blessing to bring them to there sences.
August 15, 1864, Frank wrote his wife that he was near Atlanta, Georgia. He commiserated with her again about hardships at home and gave her child-rearing advice. He asked her to confide in him about financial troubles. “If you can’t tell me, who can you tell?” He went on to say:
I wish the Govt would overhere a lot of the Gambling worthless paymasters who are continualy using our money instead of paying us off as they aught too. ... I think tis unjust to treat men so there is not more signs of pay than there was 6 months ago. ... At the last of this month they will owe us 8 months pay.
He went on to talk about heavy shelling of Atlanta with big guns, setting the city on fire. Some of those guns burst as they had fired many more rounds than they were designed to do.
...later in the evening about 9 Oclock cannonadeing comenced again and the fire broke out again. we could see the water playing on the flames. they are Bully old Fireman to run to a fire and play while shells was exploding around there heads. it must have been something of importance for them to risk there lives to stop it like that, perhaps Rations.
He wrote about heavy firing and close combat, on both sides doing considerable damage. “...it is reported that every day or so in the paper we will be in Atlanta but I don’t believe that we will be there under a month...” He apologized for writing long and boring letters.
August 22, 1864, Frank wrote from near Atlanta, Georgia. He told Kate he had not been getting mail because the tracks were torn up for several days, but now it was fixed. He wrote about a lot of skirmishing and close up fighting. He said rebel sharp shooters had been firing on them as they were getting breakfast every morning, so they turned the tables with heavy fire. Asked if “you plan to kill all of us, Yanks?”, his side sent back they would do exactly that if the sharp shooting didn’t stop. It did. Trading and conversation between sides was stopped there by Confederate officers. Frank wrote that Atlanta was pretty well riddled, but heavy shelling continued pretty much non-stop and there were rumors of massive losses by the Rebels. He talked about more close up combat and heavy firing. He was still hearing rumors of pay coming but no evidence it would happen any time soon. On September 27 Frank wrote from Atlanta. He finally got paid. He had to pay his own debts out of it, then was sending the rest on to his wife. He advised Kate to stock up on staples and groceries since it could be a long time before any more money comes. He said they took 25 cents out of everybody’s pay “for I don’t know what, except for the privelage of being a Soldier.”
During the Atlanta campaign, Frank worked with Charlie Benton as a stretcher bearer during battle and afterwards as attendant in field hospitals. It was apparent then that his strength had failed him a great deal. According to Charlie,
He did not go around complaining. He was too plucky for that, and he was naturally secretive. ... We followed Sherman’s fortunes to the end, but it was a common remark with us that if the war did not come to an end soon Frank Green would.
Frank never recovered from the typhoid, but he kept on with his regiment. His army friends said he was never the same after he came back from the hospital, but he wouldn’t quit. They said he sometimes insisted on carrying stretchers when he should have been carried on one instead. He was at Reseca where he and Charlie watched then Adjutant Cruger fall. Together they carried him off the field. At New Hope Church they worked together again in the field and in the field hospital. Some of the time there, Frank was too sick to do anything and was excused from duty. He kept on during the Savannah and Carolinas campaigns, although he was failing badly the last months of the war.
Frank mustered out with his company on June 8, 1865, at Cumberland, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. He was 36 years old. His family said he looked to be 60. After the war, Frank went back to Dutchess Co., N.Y., and again worked as a carriage trimmer. He was severely debilitated from the war and never was able to work again on any kind of a regular basis. His fellow workers and friends after the war said he approached carriage building the same way he approached the stretcher and hospital work – he might be falling down with fatigue and ill health, but he was still there putting out when everybody else thought he ought to be home in bed. His wife took in dressmaking during and after the war to make ends meet.
They moved many times after the war, likely to get help from friends and family. Frank was in business with another family member in Plainfield, N.J., in the late 1870s and early ‘80s, but that didn’t last. His son Charles learned blacksmithing and worked in Plainfield as a carriage smith. Charles moved to Norwalk, Conn., in 1882, and Frank eventually followed Charles there. They worked together building carriages the last year of Frank’s life.
Francis C. Green died at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City on June 11, 1887. The cause of death was long term consequences of typhoid. Frank is buried in Woodland Cemetery at Stamford, Conn. After Frank’s death, Kate applied for a widow’s pension. She died in Poughkeepsie on February 11, 1915. She is buried in Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery with Eleanor and John Monfort, her sister and brother-in-law. Her funeral rites were performed by the Women’s Relief Corps of the G.A.R. Charles Green lived out his life in Norwalk, Conn., where he worked as a blacksmith. Some of his ornamental iron work still exists on big estates in Norwalk. Cora Green moved west after her father’s death. She died in Vallejo, Cal., where she is buried.
Civil War letters from Francis C. Green to his wife Catherine
150th Regiment, New York Infantry