His right hand held palm outward, the soldier looks incredibly young.
Turns out he’s just a kid.
The designation of November 11 as Veterans Day lay decades in the future as Pvt. Daniel Augustus Bean and Co. A, 11th Maine Infantry Regiment, mustered into the United States Army on Monday, November 11, 1861. Along with approximately 95-98 other men, Bean and his friend, Pvt. Elias P. Morton, raised their right hands and solemnly swore to uphold the Union.
Hailing from Brownfield on Oxford County’s border with New Hampshire, Bean and Morton had enlisted in Co. A on November 2. They were among 21 recruits rounded up by Bean’s father, Sylvanus Bangs Bean, a Maine militiaman during the “Bloodless” Aroostook War of ’39.
Bean faced a particular obstacle to military service. The Army accepted recruits as young as 17, providing a parent signed off.
Nary a whisker sprouting on his smooth chin, Daniel Augustus Bean was all of 15, born to Sylvanus and his wife, Sally Spring Hadley Bean, in Brownfield on May 20, 1846. Daniel had at least two sisters (one was named Eliza) and two brothers, Charles and John.
The 15-year-old snuck into the Army under the watchful gaze of 1st Lt. Sylvanus B. Bean of Co. A, a man unafraid to literally pull rank to enlist his boy.
Confederate lead wounded Daniel Bean and Elias Morton at the Battle of Seven Pines on Saturday, May 31, 1862. Afterwards designated a quartermaster, Bean was back in the Co. A ranks during the Bermuda Hundred campaign so ineptly handled by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler in spring 1864.
“The regiment went on picket the evening of the 1st of June,” wrote Robert Brady Jr. in The Story of One Regiment, the 11th Maine history. Eight companies formed a yawing, V-shaped picket line stretching along a ravine. “Company A was posted about two hundred yards in rear of the two left companies,” G and I, Brady noted.
Confederate infantry attacked suddenly around 6 a.m., June 2, broke “the regiments on our left,” and came head on at the 11th Maine’s left flank. In order from left to right, companies I, G, B, C, and D fell back “as the rebel line swept towards the right,” Brady wrote.
Up came Co. A and its stalwart Capt. Melville M. Folsom of Newburgh. Watching as “the rebels marched in a solid line of battle,” Melville “gallantly deployed his company in such a masterly way as to secure our … flank and rear, giving the center and [right] flank time to withdraw,” Brady noted.
Daniel Bean fought with his comrades until struck by a bullet. As friends carried him rearward, another bullet hit the now 18-year-old Dean. Surgeons removed one bullet an Army hospital in Fort Monroe, across the James River, but Daniel died on Monday, June 6, not long before his father arrived to visit him.
By then Maj. Sylvanus Bean was an assistant quartermaster with V Corps.
Daniel was buried near Fort Monroe. Today he lies in Lot D 2820 at Hampton National Cemetery, and a cenotaph stands in his honor at a Brownfield cemetery.
Daniel was the first Brownfield lad killed during the Civil War.
Elias Morton never forgot his childhood friend. In 1911, Morton (then living in Augusta) and Brownfield paid Boston sculptor John A. Wilson to craft a monument to Daniel Bean, depicting the 15-year-old as he was sworn into the Army. Wilson apparently relied on a photo (credited to Matthew Brady) taken of Bean later in the war.
Cast by the Gorham Company of Providence, R.I., the monument was placed atop a granite base at what is the modern intersection of Main Street and Route 160 in Brownfield. Hundreds of people gathered on September 26, 1911 to dedicate the monument. Among those participating were the aging members of Daniel A. Bean Post, No. 160, Grand Army of the Republic.
As a band struck up the Star-Spangled Banner, two of Bean’s sisters unveiled the monument.
Unarmed, the eternally young Daniel Augustus Bean gazes north by west, sort of toward distant Fryeburg. His kepi held in his left hand, he wears a belt buckle emblazoned “VMM.”
That stands for “Volunteer Maine Militia.” Today, just under 157 years since the day that Daniel Bean joined the Army, we must ask, “Where did Maine find such heroes?”
Source: The Story of One Regiment in the War of the Rebellion, Robert Brady Jr., J.J. Little & Co., New York, NY, 1896
Brian Swartz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He enjoys hearing from Civil War buffs interested in Maine’s involvement in the war.