Oscar Allen was just 18 years old when he signed up to serve in the famed 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. His wartime experiences chronicle the turbulent internal politics of the Civil War, as well as the diverse motivations that compelled the common Union soldier to serve. His sacrifice, made alongside so many of his peers, reveals the devastating impact of the war upon a single, small, northern community.
Charles Phelps was just 19 years old when he enlisted in the 5th New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. At Gettysburg, he shot down a Confederate soldier who had mortally wounded his brigade commander. He was himself mortally wounded by a shot to the back, leaving his family to grapple with the nature of his death and fight to claim a pension.
For a brief period after the Second Battle of Bull Run, Mark Beatty deserted the Army, returning after Lincoln issued a proclamation of amnesty to soldiers who returned to their units. In spite of his momentary lapse of courage, Beatty served reliably for another eleven months before being killed in the fury of the Wheatfield. His death left his family without income, driving his mother to endure the exhausting process of seeking a pension.
A young teacher who enlisted out of a sense of patriotic duty, Lieutenant Edmund Dascomb became the unofficial warrior poet of the 2nd New Hampshire Volunteer Infantry. Mortally wounded during the fight in the Wheatfield, Dascomb was found barely alive three days later, lingering until July 13. In memorial of their friend, his fellow soldiers compiled and published his poetry, including a poem called “The Dying Volunteer,” which was put to music for his funeral.