The Civil War life and times of a New Brunswick- or Ireland-born tinsmith have been recalled in a book released late last year by a descendant.
Researched and written by great-great-grandson David A. Cyr, “Henry Granville: A Civil War Soldier From Maine” follows Granville as he goes to war with the 2nd Maine Infantry Regiment and highlights his life until his accidental death in Boston in 1879. Because the 2nd Maine seldom receives the attention it is due, let’s look at Granville’s affiliation with that oft overlooked regiment.
Granville’s birth place is unclear. His soldier records claim New Brunswick; his future wife, Mary Ann Clough, was supposedly born in New Brunswick, too. People moved to and fro across the border between Maine and New Brunswick; still a British possession, Canada lacked the national identity seared into the Canadian psyche today.
“There are indications from family photographs that both Henry and Ann were born in Ireland,” Cyr notes. Bangor was a magnet for Irish immigrants during the mid-19th century. The city was growing in population and economic activity, and the Irish filled an employment void, especially in the trades.
Born in 1831, Granville arrived in Bangor by midsummer 1850; that year’s federal census, dated Aug. 6, found him living in the Queen City by himself. Mary Ann, then 18, apparently lived with her parents and siblings in Bangor; she and Henry Granville married on Nov. 25, 1852.
The 1860 census found the Granvilles with four children: (descending in order from the oldest) William, Ida, Frank, and Charles.
According to “A Civil War Soldier from Maine,” Granville worked “as a Tinplater for A. Noyes,” actually Albert Noyes & Co., described in a printed ad as “wholesale and retail dealers in and manufacturers of Cooking, Franklin, Box … Stoves.” The company was located at “No’s 15, 17 and 19 Central Street, Bangor,” according to the ad printed in Cyr’s book.
In his profession Granville did not differ significantly from many other young men rounding out the 2nd Maine’s ranks in May. He was 29, slightly older than average, and he worked with his hands as a skilled tradesman. The regiment took many such talented men from Bangor, Brewer, Old Town, and elsewhere; more would follow as the war intensified.
When the War Department called on Maine to send infantry regiments to Washington, D.C. after Fort Sumter fell, Henry Granville joined the 2nd Maine Infantry as a fourth sergeant, “which paid a one-time state bounty or recruitment pay of $40.00 and a monthly pay of $17.00,” Cyr notes.
Granville “was described as having blue eyes, brown hair, dark complexion and standing 5’ 9” tall,” Cyr writes. Granville ultimately headed to war with Co. I, which “consisted entirely of Irish men and was known as the Grattan Company.”
The 2nd Maine ultimately reached Washington and, in mid-July, headed west into Virginia with the large Federal army intent on defeating Confederate troops deployed near Manassas. The Maine boys fought splendidly along the northern edge of Henry House Hill.
Union troops lost at First Bull Run, of course, but the 2nd Maine handled itself well during the retreat. The regiment went into the Washington defenses; then, when such 90-day regiments as the 1st Maine Infantry started going home as their three-month enlistments expired in August, many 2nd Maine boys got the notion that they, too, had signed up for 90 days and they should be mustering out.
For the first time, but not the last, angry 2nd Maine boys felt that they had been betrayed by duplicitous recruiting officers. According to Cyr, many soldiers like Granville thought that they had signed 90-day enlistment papers; instead, the soldiers discovered they had signed on for two years (and some soldiers would one day learn that they had enlisted for three years).
On Aug. 15, the 2nd Maine boys stacked their rifles “in the company streets,” with “the men refusing to do duty,” Cyr writes. Within days about half of the regiment had been arrested; all but 66 men gave up on the mutiny.
Granville was among the 66, whom the War Department planned to ship to Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas, wretched islands west of the Florida Keys. If the 2nd Maine mutineers wouldn’t fight, they could enjoy “a sentence to hard labor at Fort Jefferson,” Cyr reports.
Maine politicians went to bat for the mutineers, and Abraham Lincoln spared them imprisonment. Instead, Granville was assigned to the 2nd New York Infantry Regiment; in no way would the War Department let the mutineers rejoin the 2nd Maine.
So Granville joined Co. G, 2nd New York, on Oct. 4, 1861. He served in the Peninsula Campaign with that unit before being returned to Co. H, 2nd Maine Infantry on Aug. 8, 1862.
Mustered out in June 1863, Granville returned to Bangor and missed the second mutinous act by 2nd Maine boys. That event, immortalized in the movie “Gettysburg,” boosted the incredibly thin ranks of the 20th Maine Infantry and made possible its immortal defense of Little Round Top.
Granville apparently found civilian life boring. He joined the 30th Maine Infantry Regiment on Dec. 29, 1863 and fought in Louisiana the next spring. Mary Ann was pregnant when Granville left Bangor; she gave birth to a baby girl who died on April 24, 1864. Possibly due to complications of her pregnancy and delivery, Mary Ann died on May 15.
Having effectively seen the Civil War “through” from beginning to end, Granville mustered out of the 30th Maine in 1865. He had paid a price for saving the Union; during a Louisiana battle, “Henry received a gunshot to the right leg just above the ankle,” Cyr writes. “The gunshot tore through his calf, damaging his muscle and creating bone fragments. This injury would plague him for the rest of his life.”
Today Henry Granville lies buried with Mary Ann and their unnamed infant daughter at Mount Hope Cemetery in Bangor.
Brian Swartz can be contacted at email@example.com.