|"...his life was truly a sacrifice to his country,"|
Captain Edwin Lee (above) wrote of Henry Ford.
Lee also did not survive the Civil War.
(Photo: John Lee of Hartford Co. and His Descedants)
Along with his older brother William, Henry enlisted in the Union army on Oct. 4, 1861, and both soldiers were mustered into Company D of the 11th Connecticut in mid-November. The legal age to join the Union army was 18, so 16-year-old Henry probably lied about his age on an enlistment form. Perhaps he used a ploy of other underage soldiers, writing the number 18 on a slip of paper, putting it in his shoe and then telling the recruiting officer: "I'm over 18, and I stand on my word."
After the regiment left Hartford on Dec. 16, 1861, it settled into camps near Annapolis before it shipped out for its eventual destination of North Carolina as part of Burnside's Expedition on Jan. 8. The expedition's grand fleet, consisting of more than 125 vessels, was hampered by two major storms, fog and communication problems after it left Fortress Monroe at the southern tip of the Virginia peninsula.
"The auspices under which we have commenced operations are certainly not very encouraging," a New York Times correspondendent reported on Jan. 15, 1862. After the expedition arrived at Hatteras Inlet in North Carolina, a colonel and the surgeon of the 9th New Jersey drowned during a trip back to their mother ship after a short visit ashore, "where they spent some time wandering the beach collecting shells." Nearly 90 horses suffered the same fate when the steamer Pocahantas wrecked near a lighthouse, and 500 11th Connecticut soldiers aboard the Voltigeur ended up stranded on a sand bar in the inlet for 23 days before they finally made it ashore.
The Union attempt to put a stranglehold on North Carolina did not start well.
|Sketch artist Frank Schell drew this image of the stranded Voltigeur, with|
11th Connecticut soldiers aboard, in Hatteras Inlet in North Carolina in January 1862.
(New York Public Library Collection)
|According to this death certificate, dated March 29, 1863, the |
cause of Private Henry Ford's death was typhoid fever.
(CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)
"But grieve not at your loss," Lee wrote in the three-page letter written the day after Henry's funeral, "but rather consider it gain that you have thus contributed such a priceless treasure to liberty of man and your country. (See full text and transcription of the letter below.)
Tragedy soon rocked the Ford family again. Amos, a farmer, died of consumption in 1862, and William, who transferred to the U.S. Army 3rd Heavy Artillery in October 1862, died of disease on Dec. 9, 1863. Lee, too, would not survive the Civil War. During a charge on Confederate entrenchments at the Battle of New Bern (N.C.) on March 14, 1862, the captain from Barkhamsted, Conn., was killed when artillery fire ripped open his abdomen. He was only 28 years old.
Henry Ford pension file, National Archives and Records Service, Washington, D.C.
New York Times, Jan. 25, 1862
1860 U.S. census
|In a three-page letter to the father of Private Henry Ford, his commanding officer|
broke the news of the teenaged soldier's death ftom disease. Henry was buried at sea.
(SEE TRANSCRIPTION AND REMAINDER OF LETTER BELOW.)
Hatteras Inlet, Aboard Bark Voltigeur, Jan. 18, 1862
It becomes my painful duty as commander of company D 11th C.V. to inform you of the sudden death of your son Henry, a member of my corps. A short time after we left Annapolis he was taken sick with the measels. I immediately had him transferred from the men's quarters to a comfortable place in the cabin. He appeared to be getting along finely until Thursday the 16th. About 7 o'clock Wednesday afternoon he partook of quite a hearty supper. In fact he had some of it in his hand when he was taken with congestion of the lungs and expired within a few hours. We buried him the next morning at sea with all the ceremonies due the occasion.
We could not possibly keep him until we arrived on shore and regulations demand that they shall not be kept over 12 hours. Sir, I know full well how sudden, how sad a blow this must be to you and his Mother. Tis true the loss is irreparable ...
|"He was a good soldier and an upright man," Captain Edwin Lee wrote of Henry Ford.|
Pages 2 and 3 of the letter were spliced together using picmonkey.com.
I enclose for you a letter from Wm. (William). We expect soon to be called into action. If anything happens to your other son I shall inform you at the earliest moment if I am spared but my chances are not better than others nor as good as many. But grieve not at your loss but rather consider it gain that you have thus contributed such a priceless treasure to liberty of man and your country. You will receive this as soon as they will permit letters to be forwarded. If you wish any information concerning Henry's effects I shall be happy to contribute it any time you may desire it.
I remain truly yours
Capt. Edwin R. Lee
Co. D 11th Regt. C.V.