Thursday, August 28, 2014

Wanted: Photos of Corp. Charles Adams, Nurse Marie Greene

Charles Adams, mortally wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor, lies buried in 
East Cemetery in Litchfield, Conn.
On June 11, 1864, 10 days after he had been severely wounded at the Battle of Cold Harbor, 19-year-old Charles Adams arrived in Washington aboard the hospital steamship Monitor. It was a a “quiet, sunny morning” so calm on the Potomac River that there was barely a ripple on the water.

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."

       The 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery suffered heavy casualties here at Cold Harbor. 

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


Adams Family Collection, Litchfield (Conn.) Historical Society

Civil War nurse Marie Barton Greene is buried in Prospect Hill Cemetery in Uxbridge, Mass.


  1. Sorry -- no photos. My g-grandfather, Pvt. Patrick Lynch of Newtown (Co. E. 2nd Conn Heavy Artillery), was wounded same day, June 1, 1864, at Cold Harbor, Va. Paper trail has him admitted to Field Hospital at Alexandria Va on Jun 3, 1864. Curious why it took 10 days for Corp. Adams to get to Hospital in Washington -- maybe his condition was too critical to move him in early days after June 1?

  2. John. . . you are great author and historian. I would like to somehow recruit you for advice n such on my documentary.

    Thanx so much. . .

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