1862: A NEW HAMPSHIRE TEACHER GOES TO WAR
Marek Bennett’s comics adaptation of this actual Civil War memoir brings to life the dry humor and grim conviction of teacher-turned-soldier Freeman Colby. Fiercely proud of his Granite State heritage, Freeman Colby bows to no one – not the rowdy students of his rural one-room schoolhouse, not the high-handed Union army officers in town, and certainly not those Rebel traitors causing all that trouble down South. But Colby needs work, and his ne’er-do-well little brother Newton needs looking after, so the boys enlist with a new regiment promising three years’ pay and plenty of adventure in a growing war…
Looks like Colby’s pal Jonas Bacon stopped by to visit, too! We wouldn’t be surprised if most of these troublesome lads also ended up in the Union army before the war was over…
Freeman Colby grew up in Henniker, NH. He (age 22) and his brother Newton (age 19) enlisted in the 39th Massachusetts Volunteers on 22 June, 1862, at Woburn, MA.
You can read the official regimental history of the regiment here:
- The 39th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteers, 1862-1865 (Alfred S. Roe, 1914)
The official roll of Company K gives the following service accounts:
Colby, Freeman E. – Priv. – Res. Woburn; 22; farmer; enl. July 22, 1862; must. Aug. 22, 1862; must. out June 2, 1865.
Colby, Newton G. – Priv. – Res. Woburn; 19; farmer; enl. July 22, 1862; must. Aug. 22, 1862; disch. for disability, Dec. 29, 1862, Washington, D. C. Served also in the V. R. C., to the credit of New Hampshire, from Aug. 19, 1864 to Nov. 14, 1865.
SPOILER ALERT: The same records list the following notes on Colby’s buddy Jonas Bacon:
Bacon, Jonas – Priv. – Res. Woburn; 19; japaneer; enl. July 27, 1862; must. Aug. 22, 1862; prisoner Aug. 18, 1864; Weldon Railroad, Va.; died Dec. 30, 1864, Salisbury, N. C., a Prisoner of War.
Colby later wrote a detailed “diary” of his experiences, a transcription of which currently resides in the archives of the Henniker Historical Society.
SAMPLE PAGE FROM COLBY’S TRANSCRIBED DIARY: