Through the Eyes of a SoldierA History of the Civil War as Seen by Battery L First United States Artillery, 1860-1865 by Robert C. Simmonds
Upon his retirement from a career in mechanical engineering, Robert Simmonds was compelled to look into “a real mystery.” It was a nagging gap in family history.
It was well-known that his father’s grandfather had served in the Civil War. There was ample proof. As a boy, the author discovered Charles Isaacs’ uniform and his Springfield rifle in the attic of the old homestead. His story was a tragic one; he had been blinded in the war, and afterward had survived as a maker of cigars. Yet there was nothing known of the “other grandfather.” After all, the author’s grandmother must have had a father-in-law, but as it turned out she never knew him. Simmonds died in 1871. As the origin of the author’s surname, he had to be found.
Simmonds’ wife Catharine survived until 1924, long enough for one distant family member, fortunately still alive to be interviewed, to remember that “she had run a millinery store” in Worcester, Massachusetts.
“Kate Scott-Simmonds, Millinery” was easily found in the city directories of the period, and the 1870 census showed Catharine living with William E., a cigar maker. Cigar maker? Good Lord, the same as Charles? Was William a Civil War veteran? It seems that the government had sponsored the teaching of disabled Civil War veterans a marketable trade, and cigar makers were in demand, cigar smoking being immensely popular at the time.
The grave location was found from local records, and the site was visited. The government-issue stone reads:
1 ST SGT.
W. E. SIMMONDS
1 U.S. ART.
Research continued, and this volume is the result.
About the Author
Robert C. Simmonds received a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1958. After service in the army, he began employment in machinery research and development. He received an MS in Mechanical Engineering from Northeastern University in 1967. His great-grandfather served in Battery L before, during, and after the Civil War.
Ordering InformationHardcover, $49.95, 840 pgs, 7x10" illustrated.
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