Massachusetts Minuteman of '61
Politicians in the North and the South expected the Rebellion to come to a quick close. The Yankee's had overwhelming resources and the Rebels were certain '1 Confederate could whip 10 Yankees'. And of course each side was certain they had right on their side. With that in mind, President Lincoln called for the raising of a volunteer army with enlistments of only three months. From April of 1861 into the post-war reunion years, these men were referred to as the Minutemen of '61. Massachusetts was one of several states that would issue a medal for these first enlistment volunteers.
The Massachusetts Minuteman Medal was manufactured by the US Mint and a late award not authorized until 1902. Gregory Ogletree, in his work on state awards, estimates 3,805 medals were struck. Each heavy bronze award is impressed on the rim with the soldiers name, rank, and unit. With the war over for 40 years, few veterans claimed their award, posthumous medals were given to family members and the remainder rested in state archives to filter out over the century through family claims, loss and theft. These factors account for the fact that these medals are often encountered in unworn condition.
This medal and accompanying artifacts are attributed to William H. Marston. Born 13 Nov 1819 in Sandwich, Massachusetts, he enlisted May 22, 1861 as a Private in Company I of the 4th Massachusetts Infantry. Serving until 22 July having likely participated in the Battle of Big Bethel. He reenlisted in January of 1864 into the 23rd Massachusetts Infantry and was with the regiment when it suffered severely at Drewry's Bluff and Cold Harbor. He mustered out 6/25/1865. A member of GAR Post #139 (Willard C. Kinsley) in Somerville, MA, he died 12/4/1923.
Included is a postwar cabinet card photo of Marston copied from a wartime image, in which he wears an 1858 enlisted frock coat with forage cap in hand and Cpl. chevrons on his sleeves. The photographer marked reverse is inscribed
Wm. H. Marston, Somerville, Mass. Co. I 4th Regt. (Minute Man of '61) Corp. Co. C. 23rd Mass. Vols.
His Massachusetts Minuteman Medal is rim impressed
WILLIAM H. MARSTON, PRVT I. 4TH REG.
Medals include his GAR membership medal which has been neatly gilted and a late issue Civil War Campaign medal rim numbered 3593. The Army Civil War Campaign Medal was authorized in 1907 and this medal is from the last contract run of numbered medals in 1941 as manufactured by C.M. Robbins Company. Numismaticly it is rather rare with only 188 medals in this contract run. He did not live long enough to see the award and most certainly it was applied for by his son. A uniform stencil from the 23rd Massachusetts accompanies other souveniers such as a piece of shrapnel, mini' balls, an arrowhead, and wartime dated coins. The Sons of Union Veteran medal was no doubt from the boy in the photograph with an elder Marston and probably the man we can thank for preserving this group. Interestingly there is a peacock feather, of unknown significance, in the group as it was obtained from his family.