William Henry Garfield


One of nine from Wayland who enlisted in the 39th Regiment for a three-year term at age 19. Two of his Cochituate neighbors, Father and son Butterfields, joined the 39th at the same time. Garfield reported little activity in the first year with guard duty and time for letters to and from home. Then came the order to pursue the rebels across the Potomac, with Mine Run the first battle. Without food supplies they survived on foraging for three days. but they moved on to their winter quarters where they fared better. By spring the Richmond capital was their goal, and they were engaged in small battles at first with a few deaths from wounds and sunstroke.  Then came a severe fight at Laurel Hill where 50 were lost and Garfield was wounded on the ear. He kept with the reg’t as they marched a great distance to Spottsylvania, while being continually under fire. Then to Bethesda Church where they successfully fought back the Rebels and on to White Oak Swamp and Petersburg. They were often involved in the engineering work of building forts and breastworks, and at Petersburg they named their fort Fort Davis in honor of Col. Davis who was killed there. At Weldon RR many of the 39th were captured and 22 were carried to Salisbury (including his friend Charles Butterfield) but many others were rescued including Garfield.


More exhausting building work continued, along with several battles. Garfield was on the skirmish line and took part in aiding General Sheridan at Five Forks where he rec’d his second wound by “Minie-ball” below the knee. Again he continued on and within a week he was part of the men with Sheridan who met General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House to witness the signing of surrender and the turning over of army of prisoners of war. Soon thereafter the 39th was on its way homeward.


He returned to Cochituate to work in the shoe business.