31st MAINE VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
Organized: Early 1864
Mustered In: 3/1 to 4/29/64 Augusta, ME
Mustered Out:7/15/65 Alexandria, VA
Discharged: 7/27/65 Bangor, ME
The 31st, a three year, eastern theatre regiment, was primarily organized in the spring of 1864, but companies continued to be added into December of that year. The bulk of the unit initially left Maine in mid-April travelling to Alexandria, VA where it was assigned to the Army Of The Potomac. From there it was immediately ordered to the front where it took part in the concluding actions at the battle of Bristoe Station VA. On the heels of that action it took part in the battle of The Wilderness where it lost heavily in killed and wounded. From that time on it saw continuous hard service in Union Gen. U.S. Grant's Overland campaign until the close of the war. Battles included Spotsylvania Court House, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Poplar Spring Church and Hatcher's Run to name but a few. Regimental casualties were enormous.
During the winter of 1864/'65 the regiment garrisoned forts Fisher, NC and Davis, TX until February 11th. It was then ordered to a point near Parke Station on the Army Line & City Point Railroad in Virginia. It remained there until April 2nd when it suffered severely assaulting the enemy's fortifications. With Rebel lines broken around Petersburg the 31st pursued the fleeing Confederates and, on the 8th, conducted a contingent of prisoners to Ford's station. Thus ended the regiment’s combat experience. On the 20th it moved to near Alexandria, VA where it remained until final muster in mid-July.
Regimental losses: Officers killed or mortally wounded = 18; Officers died of disease, accidents, etc. =0; Enlisted men killed or mortally wounded = 165; Enlisted men died of disease, accidents, etc. = 176.
Residence: Limerick York Co., ME Age: 18.6 yrs.
Enlisted/Enrolled: 3/8/65 Portland, ME Rank: Pvt.
Mustered In: 3/8/65
Mustered Out: 7/15/65 Alexandria, VA
Discharged: 7/27/65 Bangor, ME
Highest Rank: Pvt.
While documental birth years reflect either 1848 or 1849, based on his age at death as noted in his obituary, Nathanial Brackett Cole was likely born in September, 1849 in Waterboro, York County, Maine. He was the third of five children known to have been born to Albert (b. 1818 ME) and Sarah (nee Folsom b. 1824 or '28 ME) Cole. The Coles were a farming family. It is not known if his family called him Nathanial, Brackett or some variation of those names, but all military and pension documents refer to him as Brackett.
Brackett's two older siblings were Albert Melville or "A.M." (b. 1844 ME) Cole and Sarah E. (b. 1846 ME) Cole. Those younger than he were Ethelina (b. 1850 ME) Cole and Corletta (b. 1859 ME) Cole.
On October 31, 1861 Brackett's older brother departed the farm and enlisted in Company "I" of the 1st Maine Cavalry. He served almost three years in this unit until discharged for disability on 6/15/64.
Whether or not A.M.'s service experiences had any impact on Brackett's decision to enter the service is now known. What is known is that on 3/8/65 the teenager left his home, then in Limerick, Maine, and enlisted for a period of one year as a private in Company "A" of the 31st Maine Infantry. At enlistment his vital statistics were noted as follows: Age 18; Height 5'5"; Eyes blue; Hair light; Complexion light/florid; Occupation farmer. For enlisting he received a $100 bonus or "bounty" $33 of which he received up front with the balance to be paid in two later increments. Private Brackett's enrolment was credited to Limerick, York County, and 1st Cong. Dist. of Maine.
With the War all but over when young Brackett enlisted, it is likely he barely had time to join his company and regiment before both were mustered out of the service. On that 7/15 occasion it was noted that private Cole had never been paid, but owed the U.S. Government $25.16 and a private sutler $12. [Note: Sutlers were private "shopkeepers" who followed the armies and sold foods and merchandise to the soldiers.]
Exactly where Brackett settled after his separation from the army is not known. His next documentation appears when, on 6/4/68 in New London, Wisconsin, he married Amy Ann Davis (b. June, 1847 or '48 NY). The marriage was the first for both the bride and the groom. The union would last almost 43 years and produce four children only three of which are named: Charles "Charley" Eugene Cole (b. 8/26/69 WI), Bessie Ursala Cole (b. 8/16/73 MN) and Nellie Maud Cole (b. 8/3/87 CA).
As noted by the birthplaces of their children Brackett and Amy moved a number of times during the near twenty years following their marriage. Where in Wisconsin they resided at the time of and just after their wedding is not documented. However, the 1870 U.S. Census placed the couple and their young son in Oshkosh, Winnebago County where Brackett was employed as a carpenter. By 1873, when Bessie was born, they had removed to Minnesota. It was there, in or near Minneapolis in November of the following year that Brackett, then employed in the Jesse Copel and Son saw mill, lost his entire left hand except for the little finger when the appendage became caught in a circular saw. In 1875 the Coles were still in Minneapolis, but three years later, in 1878, were living in Gridley, Butte County, CA. There, Brackett was once more referred to as a "carpenter." During the census of 1880 the Coles were once again found in California, but by this time in the Butte County community of Hamilton.
The Coles California connection continued at least until 1888 when they were found in Eureka, Humboldt County There Brackett was once again working as a in a sawmill, this time as a “millman”.The previous year, most likely also in Eureka, the final Cole child - daughter Nellie M. - had been born.
By 1889, the family had again moved, travelling northward to Seattle, King County, Washington. Although there is no available census data for 1890 because of its having been destroyed in a fire, the Seattle stay was not long as by 2/21/91 the Coles were north of there in Snohomish, Snohomish County, WA. While this northerly migration may have been in response to relatives living in these areas - Brackett's brother, A.M., or Amy's bother, Anstis- most likely it was prompted by the opening of virgin timberlands and a resultant thriving timber/lumber industry.
February 12, 1892. Another address for the Cole family: Marysville, located to the northwest of Snohomish in Snohomish County. It was there a government disability pension of $12 per month caught up with Brackett. The pension stipend, based on his period of military service and the loss of his hand, was retroactive to 3/8/91 when he had initiated the paperwork process.
1900. A new century, a new decade and a new census. This tally again found the Coles in another new town and new home. This time the location was the community of Sultan, just east of Snohomish in Snohomish County. This would literally be the "last resting place" for Brackett and Amy Cole. Brackett's occupational noting was "millwright." Mary's entry noted that having been married for thirty two years, during which she had birthed four children, three of whom were then living. As the name of that "fourth" child is not divulged in any available documentation, he or she likely died at or shortly after birth.
The census for 1910 was pretty much a carbon copy of that of 1900. Brackett, Amy and daughter Nellie were still in Sultan. Brackett and Mary were now aged sixty one. Brackett was still working in a sawmill, but now as a "filer". Nellie, who was twenty one years of age, was noted as having "no income."
On 3/4/11 former Civil War soldier Brackett Cole received his last $12 pension check. He died on the 19th of the following month. Cause of death was listed as "blood poisoning from infected wounds." The nature of the "wounds" was not specified. At death he was aged 62 years (1849), 7 months and three days. Burial was in the Sultan Cemetery.
The month following her husband's passing Amy applied for, and was granted a Civil War widow's pension. While the initial dollar amount of this stipend is not noted, by the time of her death it had increased to $40 per month.
As of 1920 Amy was still in Sultan where she was listed as a boarder in the home of her by-now married daughter Nellie and Nellie's husband, Isaac Ellis. Whether or not the "home" was the house previously owned Brackett and Amy or another dwelling is not known. The Ellis' had three children of their own: Brackett (b. June, 1914 WA), Bessie (b. April, 1916 WA) and Muriel (b. February, 1918 WA).
Mary Ann "Amy" Davis/Cole died on November 29, 1929. She was buried in Sultan beside Brackett.
Buried at Sultan Community Cemetery
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