Calvin Boston an early Mapleton settler and Civil War Casualty
Dena L. Winslow, Ph.D.
Copyright 2014 - All rights reserved.

Calvin Boston

If you haven’t heard of Calvin Boston, you are not alone.  He is one of the little-known unsung soldiers of the Civil War, and a long-forgotten early settler on Creasy Ridge in Mapleton.  It’s time this hero’s story was told. 

When Calvin and his wife Sarah moved to Creasy Ridge in Mapleton and built a home and farm, they planned a life together there with their three young children.  Then the Civil War came along and changed all of that. 

Maine sent more men to the Civil War than any other state – with about 80,000 soldiers and sailors leaving to fight for the Union.  With many events planned throughout Maine and the United States this summer to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War, this report will tell the story of one man from this local area.

Calvin Boston House
Calvin Boston house and farm to the right of the picture on Creasy Ridge in Mapleton.

Before coming to Aroostook County in the 1850’s when land was available for fifty-cents per acre – payable in road work, no cash needed - many young men came to settle.  Calvin Boston  had come from Gardiner, Maine where the local newspaper described him as a, “quiet, modest young man, with a physique of steel, a heart soft as a woman’s, and brave as a tiger…. Probably, in point of muscular power no man in the State can stand before him, and yet he has always had the best of characters as a good, peaceable citizen…” Another newspaper reported that Calvin was, “…loved by all who know him.”

Like many young men in Aroostook County at the time, Calvin Boston felt a strong sense of obligation to go to fight in the Civil War for the Union Army.  On January 5, 1863 he wrote to Benjamin Creasy who settled Creasy Ridge in Mapleton, his neighbor and “dear friend,” from “Camp A. Lincoln” in Portland, to tell him he was still in Portland where they were filling up a regiment. In his letter, he wrote, “…we have about four hundred men here at present (but) they desert as fast as they recruit…” 

Calvin had joined Company B of the 7th Maine Volunteers which had originally been mustered in Augusta on August 21, 1861.  After several battles, and with their ranks thinning, the 7th Maine was sent back to Maine to recruit fresh troops.  This is when Calvin Boston enlisted.  They left Portland, Maine on January 21, 1863 for Virginia where they re-joined their brigade and division at White Oak Church on January 25, 1863.

On February 25, 1863 Calvin again wrote to Benjamin Creasy.  This time he was at a “camp near White Oak Church.”  He said, “…we have had very bad weather since we have been here, three snow storms within a month and it rains almost all the time.  There is not any thing doing here, it is so muddy that the army cannot move.  I suppose you would like to know how I like (it).  Well, I think that I should rather be back there with you again.  What do people think of the Conscription Act?  I suppose that (there) will be some scedadling (running away to avoid being drafted) when they come to post it in force.  It makes the boys laugh.  They say that they should like to come home and help put it in force, that is, if there is any resistance shown to the draft…. Virginia is a hard old place.  The land is broken and the houses are poor, not so good as our log ones.  In fact, the worst of them are logs.  Give me old Maine yet –“

The weather conditions improved and the 7th Maine took part in the Chancellorsville Campaign at Franklin’s Crossing from April 29 to May 2.  On May 3 they were part of a successful attack on Maryes Heights during the second battle of Fredericksburg, and the fight at Salem Church on May 3 and 4.  From July 2-4 the 7th Maine Volunteers participated in the great Battle of Gettysburg and subsequently engaged the Confederates several times on their retreat to Virginia.

On August 14, 1863 Calvin again wrote to Benjamin Creasy, but this time his letter was from the McClellen Hospital in Philadelphia.  He reported that his health was good and that his wounds were all healed, and that he was waiting to re-join his Regiment as soon as he was “exchanged.”  Calvin had been shot and injured by a bullet – the first of three such injuries he was to receive during the war. 

In the same letter, Calvin asked Benjamin to look after his crops because he expected the war to end by fall and said, “…I shall want some to live on next summer… I shall have to get you to take care of my stock (cattle and horses etc.) this winter…  give my love to Mrs. Creasy and tell her that I should like to have some of her buckwheat cakes and nice potatoes…”

Calvin’s next letter to Benjamin was written on December 3, 1863 from Lincoln Hospital in Washington, D.C.  He wrote:  “…you no doubt will be surprised to hear that I am here in Washington but so it is.  I came here the 22nd of last month.  I was down front but three weeks, just long enough to be in one fight.  The next day after the fight I cut my foot while splitting a rail, and when the Army made this last move, I was sent here.  I am doing well (and) should soon be out again.  My health otherwise is good…”  This was to be the last letter Benjamin Creasy received from Calvin.

It is assumed that Calvin recovered from the injury to his foot, as well as to the second bullet wound described in the Gardiner newspapers.  He apparently returned to Gardiner to visit his wife, who had returned there during his absence. 

A short time later, he volunteered for the 31st Regiment of Infantry having been mustered into service on April 17, 1864 at Augusta for a three-year enlistment.  His regiment left Maine for Washington D.C. on April 18, 1864 and was attached to the 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, IX Corps, Army of the Potomac, in which it remained for the remainder of the war.  The Regiment began fighting on May 4, 1864 and had its first battle casualties two days later in the Battle of the Wilderness, where it suffered heavy losses.  A few days later, on May 12, the regiment fought at Spotsylvania Court House and again suffered heavy casualties with 12 killed, 75 wounded, and 108 missing in action.

Calvin’s Regiment continued to be involved in several skirmishes and suffered more heavy losses.  They were under constant fire by the Confederate troops from June 17th until July 30th.  On June 25th, 1864, Calvin was again wounded in battle, near Petersburg.  The Gardiner newspaper reported that he:  “had stepped out of a rifle pit to shake a blanket, when a shell burst high in the air and a piece struck him under the left shoulder passing into his body between the ribs and penetrating the lung.”  The reporter went on to say that Calvin was “doing well, and will probably be transferred to Washington or sent home in a few days.  The Sargent says of him ‘he was just as cool and plucky as ever,’ a fact that those of us who know Lieutenant Boston, will scarcely doubt.  He adds:  ‘In conclusion, I have only to say that Lieutenant Boston has the confidence and good will of every man in the regiment, and particularly of his own company, and I assure you of their sympathy toward him…’”  The reporter added, “he is recklessly brave, and though cool and collected, we fear he does not take quite so good care of himself as some men do.”

Calvin was commissioned as a Captain, however, before he received the commission he died of his wounds on July 7, 1864 in a hospital in Washington, D.C.  The Gardiner newspaper reported that just before he died, Calvin said, “I have tried to do my duty, and I am ready to go.”  The reporter added, “no more patriotic, brave, or better soldier has ever given his life to his country….”

A large monument honoring the Civil War veterans stands on the village common in Gardiner.  Calvin Boston’s name is inscribed with that of many others on the side of the monument.  His wife, Sarah, lived out the rest of her life in Gardiner after selling out their property in Mapleton.  Two of Calvin’s children died young leaving him only one heir, Frank E. Boston, who went on to be a prominent and distinguished man in Gardiner.

There are no monuments to Calvin Boston in Mapleton, although he had made himself a home and built a farm here, and intended to spend the rest of his life in the community.  While he was away in the Civil War, he gave permission for his home to be used as a school house for the children of the area of Creasy Ridge before a school was erected there.  Were it not for the Civil War, there is no doubt that Calvin Boston and his descendants would have been well-known residents of the Mapleton area.  That war changed the course of Calvin’s life and that of his family, as well as the history of Mapleton, forever.