Program shows Milford’s contributions to Civil War

Courage, honor, duty & sacrifice

Carrie Cutter was a 19-year-old nurse who traveled with her father, a surgeon, to Virginia to care for the Civil War’s sick and wounded. She died of a fever on a ship off Roanoke Island and was buried with military honors usually reserved for a colonel. Cutter was also one of Milford’s abolitionists, and romantically linked to one of John Brown’s conspirators.

Her story was one of many related by historian David Nelson last week during a program called "Duty, Honor, Courage and Sacrifice: Milford’s Response to the Civil War." All told, 196 Milford men and women served and 60 died, "and 40 of those were never brought home to be buried," said Nelson, who used newspaper clippings and photos in his slideshow.

Among the Milford dead was Oliver W. Lull, a lawyer who enlisted in 1861 and was shot two years later during an assault on Port Hudson, La., while leading a direct charge. He reportedly died saying, "Thank God, I die for my country."

Then there was Elizabeth Livermore, who stayed home and faithfully recorded in her daily journal the Civil War era in Milford. She lived in what is now the Community House and was a member of the Wom­en’s Soldiers’ Aid Society. As its secretary, she recorded long lists of items bound for soldiers that included shirts, handker­chiefs, blackberry wine, farina and cocoa.

After President Lincoln was assassinated, she wrote, "Mr. Wadleigh came to tell us the president breathed his last at 7 o’clock," and the Congregational Church was draped in black.

Thomas L. Livermore, 21, fought at the bloody battle of Antietam, and survived to write about "the ghastly flooring" of dead rebels … that we kneeled for the last struggle."

More than 14,000 from New Hampshire died. To provide context, Nelson began with a brief history of slavery and the abolitionist movement, which was strong in Milford.

The problem that Northerners called the peculiar institution of slavery "could not be solved in the Legislature and ended up in war," Nelson said. Milford’s Hutchinson Singers and the Congregational Church’s Rev. Henry Moore were also part of the antislavery vanguard, and Nelson touched on the Under­ground Railroad and North­erner’s reaction to the Fugitive Slave Act.

Although he lives in Wilton, Nelson focused his research effort on Milford after learning of its extensive contributions to the war and to the abolitionist movement, quoting the Rams­dell History of Milford:

"In no town in New Hamp­shire were the seeds of opposi­tion to slavery earlier planted."

Nelson has given lectures on the Civil War and was the organizer of the Kearsarge Afterguard in 1991 to honor the Navy’s contributions during the Civil War.

His slides also show how the earliest days of the Civil War were reflected in the Farm­ers Cabinet’s front pages, with coverage of soldiers’ farewell ceremonies, including one at the Baptist Church, where "hundreds were unable to gain admittance."

Nelson’s program was spon­sored by the Wadleigh Memorial Library and the Milford Histori­cal Society.

Kathy Cleveland can be reached at 673-3100 or kcleveland@