|Charles Adams, mortally wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor, lies buried in East Cemetery in Litchfield, Conn.|
After all the other wounded men had been taken from the ship, only Adams remained. A surgeon advised against moving the corporal in the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery because he believed Adams only had a short time to live. A woman named Marie Barton Greene, a nurse with the U.S. Sanitary Commission, arrived to provide comfort for the teenager from Litchfield, Conn.
A short time after Greene boarded the Monitor, she asked Adams if he had a keepsake for his family, but he didn’t, or couldn’t, communicate. “He seemed waiting, watching for the time to come, and said distinctly ‘I am ready to go.’,” the nurse recalled, before he “fell asleep in death as calmly and noiselessly as falls an autumn leaf to the soft green sod beneath.”
In a letter to Adams sister months later, Greene recalled witnessing the suffering of other soldiers. “I have stood by the side of many a dying soldier and I cannot tell you how it has pained my heart to see them dying without a hope in Jesus,” she wrote. A distant relative of famed Civil War nurse Clara Barton, Greene signed the note, "The Soldiers Friend."
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On June 19, 1864, a service for Adams was held at the Congregational Church in Litchfield, near the town green and a short distance from the road on which he and his comrades marched off to war in mid-September 1862. Afterward, Adams’ coffin was taken a quarter-mile to East Cemetery, accompanied by three officers from the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery and soldiers from the 1st Connecticut, and following a prayer, the 19-year-old’s remains were buried.
Months later, Greene still had the young man in her thoughts. She requested a photo of Adams from his sister.
“Perhaps I am asking too much of you but I have given much time and attention to soldiers at the wharf as they came from the front and the hospitals,” she wrote to Mary Adams. “Consequently, I have become deeply interested in some and I am now collecting photographs of some with circumstances connected with my meeting them. If you have an extra one of your brother Charlie I would be very grateful for it.”
When she finally received an image, she thanked Mary, calling it “perfect.”
One of the unsung heroes of the Civil War, Greene died in 1907 at 79 and is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Uxbridge, Mass.
For a special project, I hope to find photos of Adams or Greene. If you can help, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Adams Family Collection, Litchfield (Conn.) Historical Society
|Civil War nurse Marie Barton Greene is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Uxbridge, Mass.|