from The Webster Times, October 27, 1910(Volume 51 #81),
Veterans of the 15th Massachusetts, which was nearly decimated at Ball’s Bluff, congregated in the State Mutual building, Worcester, to assure one another that they were alive and that they were glad to be. It was the anniversary of the battle. Sammy Hodgkins of Paxton, Va. was unable to be there. He said in his letter of regret that if he were alive Oct. 21, he would take a drink to the memory and good health of all of the members of the old regiment on earth, in heaven and elsewhere.
One veteran came from as far away as Santa Barbara, Cal. This was W. G. Waters, ex quartermaster of the regiment, and he brought with ( him ) slips of trees that grew on various battlefields where the regiment saw action, these having been sent by the relief corps of California. A letter from Mrs. Belle (Sawyer ) Kerr of Sacramento, and formerly of Winchendon, accompanied the slips, and it said: “The slips may be faded, but the sentiment is there.”
Captain Amos Bartlett, of Webster, who commanded I Co., wanted to attend the reunion of the 15th, but he was unable to leave the automobile which brought him to Worcester, and comrades went down into Main street and shook hands with him. Tears of gladness stood in his eyes.
While the 44th reunion of the 15th was joyful, it also had its pathetic notes. The dinner, which was in the State mutual restaurant, had not progressed very far before Col. George C. Josyln of Boston suggested that those present stand for two minutes in memory of the departed. This was done. The guests of honor were Mrs. George H. Ward, the widow of col. Ward, who lost a leg at Ball’s Bluff, and was killed at Gettysburg; Congressman Charles G. Washburn and Alderman George N. Jeppson, who represented the city in the absence of Mayor James A. Logan,
Sergt. S. J. Simmons, Boston, and Col. E. J. Russell, Leicester, formerly probation officer for Worcester, vied in telling funny stories and stories that were not funny. Sergt. Simmons recited a poem in which many of the names of the veterans were mentioned, and then he told about the Sullivan's. There were four Sullivan's in K Co. The dinner was concluded by the veterans singing “Auld Lang Syne.” Col. Joslyn, who was toastmaster, wanted the veterans to make the most of the occasion, and so he postponed the music of H. A. Kimball and his accompanist N. H. Ingraham, until near the end of the exercises. Mr. Kimball sang a song written for the regiment by Adjt. George W. Baldwin.
The record of Benjamin Taft, who was the first union soldier to die in the rebel prison at Salisbury, N. C., was completed upon the request of E. R. Fonda, superintendent of the National cemetery at Arlington, Va. Col. Joslyn, at the meeting in the morning called the attention of the Comrades to this request, and several of them were on their feet to say the good things they knew about Benny, who was sergeant in I Co. “I knew him well,” said one veteran. “He was a mighty good fellow.” He used to live up on Providence street. He’s got a brother Bill and a sister Sue.”
John R. Nichols of Wilton, N. Y. a member of the regiment who could not be at the reunion sent to Col. Joslyn a letter in which he wrote of Taft. “At Ball’s Bluff I was taken prisoner, and so was Benjamin Taft. I made his acquaintance at Richmond. He was a nice young fellow. We called him Benny. About December 24, 1861, there were a great many prisoners removed from Richmond to Salisbury. Benjamin Taft and myself were among the number. I rode on the train and it was stopped, and we did not move along much. Benny, and two or three other comrades, managed to slip away and elude the guards. Benny got played out, sick, tired, and footsore. He begged of his companions to go on and leave him, but they would not do so. They gave themselves up and in a few days after I arrived at the Salisbury prison they were brought in. Benny was sick and went to the hospital, which was one of the little old negro cabins a little ways from the prison proper. In a few days the report came to us that he was dead.”.
Those who spoke at the dinner were Col. Joslyn, Congressman Washburn, Alderman Jepson, Col. E. J. Russell, Sergt. S. J. Simmons, Boston, Mrs. George H. Ward, and her son, George W. Ward, who is the secretary and treasurer of the association; John Wright of Beverly, formerly of the 1st Minnesota, which was brigaded with the 15th Massachusetts; Quartermaster W. G. Waters of Santa Barbara and L. E. Thayer of Oxford.
Congressman Washburn paid a glowing tribute to the valor of the 15th. Alderman Jeppson felicitously welcomed the veterans in behalf of the city. He said “When I think of what you men went through and compare those men with the men of today, I feel that the men of today are not in your class.” “I do want to say from the bottom of my heart that I thank God that I am here.” Said John Wright, Beverly. “As the good people say in the church, “I’m glad to be here; it does my soul good.”
Mrs. Ward thanked the regiment for giving her the opportunity to visit among the veterans and hear their stories of the war. She has an album containing war pictures that was shown to the veterans.
Officer elected are: President, George C. Joslyn, Boston; Secretary and Treasurer, George W. Ward, Worcester; Directors, Col. H. E. Smith, Capt. David M. Earle, Capt. Peleg F. Murray, George W. Mirrick of Worcester; H. T. Dudley, of Wilkinsonville.
The regimental association discussed with animation the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the mustering of the regiment, which will be next year. The directors will decide whether the regiment celebrate it. Many of the veterans were opposed to their being any gathering other than the reunion, which takes place every year on the anniversary of the battle of Ball's Bluff. J. a. Whitcomb of the 21st regiment addressed the veterans in the interest of having a joint celebration next year by the survivors of the 15th, 21st and 25th regiments. Albert , North Brookfield; Capt. Peleg F. Murray and Capt. David M. Earle were appointed a committee to consider the advisability of the 15th participating.
These were reported as having died during the year;
Those at the reunion were: