G.A.R. Post: Oliver Morton Post #10 Snohomish, WA
MAINE REGIMENT COMPANY UNASSIGNED
In 1863, as patriotic fervor began to wane and voluntary enlistment numbers slipped, the United States government began toying with alternative means of fulfilling the manpower needs of the tremendous war machine. One was payment of enlistment bonuses, or bounties. Another was mandatory military conscription. The draft became a fact of life which continued throughout 1864 and 1865. In terms of the early months of latter year, while the death knell of the southern cause seemed imminent, the end was not yet in sight, so the war movement, like a giant vacuum cleaner, continued to suck in manpower.
During the early days of the war there was money and prestige to be gained by assembling and fielding new regiments whether they be infantry, cavalry or artillery, rather than replenishing the thinned ranks of the older ones. By 1864 and into 1865, however this practice was the exception rather than the rule. When a man was enlisted or was drafted, he was sent to a reception center where his presence was credited to his state or political district and, once there, the manpower needs of the various arms of the service were evaluated and he was “plugged in” to an existing regiment.
When Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to United State General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia on April 9, 1865 the end of the Rebellion was truly in sight. As such, the U.S. Government almost immediately began downsizing its war machine. One aspect of this downsizing was divestiture of recent recruits/draftees so the government would not be financially responsible for them. It was into this vortex that William H. Sprague was drawn.
Residence: Aroostock Co., ME Age: 33 (est.)
Draft Date: Inf. Not. Avail.
Mustered In: 4/6/65 Rank: Pvt.
Mustered Out: 4/15/65 Augusta, ME
Highest Rank: Pvt.
William Henry Sprague was born in 1832 in Houlton, Aroostook County, ME to parents Jeremiah (b. ca. 1787) and Catherine (b. ca. 1789) Sprague. He was the third of six children and the third oldest of four sons. The Sprague children were: John (b. ca 1827), George (b. ca. 1825), William (b. ca. 1832), Catherine (b. ca. 1833), Frances (b. ca. 1858), and Abbie (b. ca. 1859). No information is available pertaining to his childhood, formative, or teenaged years.
In 1852 at the age of 20 William married Eunice G. Deering (b. 5/8/34 ME), a young woman of American and Canadian/Dutch heritage. The union would produce six children: Nancy J. (b. 7/23/55), James W.S. (b. 8/55), Manfred W. (b. 7/14/58), John Bray (b. 1/11/63), Thomas E. (b. 9/3/67), and Meta A. (b. 8/76). All were born in Maine. Available documentation is silent in relation to Mr. Sprague’s occupation.
During the early spring of 1865 William was drafted into the U.S. military. At approximately 33 years of age at the time he was above the 26.7 average of the typical American Civil War soldier/sailor. Private Sprague’s military career was short lived. It lasted only nine days.
He never left Maine and while a U.S. soldier earned the grand sum of $4.80! Military conscription behind him, William returned to his wife and family. Still, while the military experience was gone, it was not forgotten. In 1891 as William, like most Civil War veterans, began to experience the pangs of age- “‘rheumatism” and “poor health”- he sought assistance from the U.S. government in the form of a disability pension. It was then that he, like many others, learned he was not eligible for such renumeration because he had not served a minimum 90 day period under federal muster. Claim denied.
By 1903 William and family had traveled westward to the Puget Sound area of Washington State and were residing with one of their sons in Redmond, Washington. At the time of the 1910 census the Spragues had set up household in Snohomish, WA. Members of the family group, in addition to William and Eunice were noted as sons John (widowed) and Manfred (married) and two grandsons, Otto and Warren.
In 1913 Eunice died and was buried in Snohomish. It appears that at some point following her passing John gave up his home and moved in with a son living in Everett. By 1919, however, he was residing in Portland, Oregon. Again, he was likely residing with one of his children. It was there he died on 2/23/1919. After death his remains were transported back to Snohomish, WA to be buried beside Eunice.
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