Yeah, I know Memorial Day, originally Decoration Day, is all about honoring the people in the military who gave their lives for their country/beliefs. In my family tree, I don’t have any direct ancestors that fit the bill, but I do have a few that did RISK their lives in military service. So I’m going to mention them here.
The earliest I know of was Captain John Sprague, my 10x great-grandfather. He was born in Dorchester, England in 1624. He emigrated with his parents to America and settled in Massachusetts. His father Ralph helped found Charlestown.
John Sprague fought in King Philip’s War, serving with Maj. Simon Willard. King Philip, as he was called by the English, was Metacomet, the son of Massasoit, the Wampanoag leader who greeted the Pilgrims in 1621 and helped them survive their first winter. Fifty-four years later, in 1675, Massasoit's son went to war with the colonists.
King Philip's War lasted only fourteen months, but it changed the face of New England. A third of the hundred or so towns in New England were burned and abandoned. The colonial forces ultimately triumphed, but at a huge cost. There were about seventy thousand people in New England at the outbreak of the war. By the end of it, there were five thousand dead, three-quarters of those losses were Native Americans. In percentage of population killed, King Philip's War was more than twice as bloody as the American Civil War and at least seven times more so than the American Revolution.
In the Revolutionary War, fighting for the Americans was my 5X Great grandfather, James Masterman. He served in the infantry as a cook for 8 months starting in June, 1775 under Major Montague. In summer 1776, he was drafted for 3 more months. In spring of 1777, he entered service as a sailor on board the brig “Hazard.” After cruising the West Indies for 3 months, they returned to Boston, resupplied and he rejoined for another three month term. During his service under Capt. John Foster Williams, “Hazard” captured 2 British vessels. I have his pension application with all the details and signed by him HERE.
I already did a blog on the Civil War Ingles side of the family and mentioned each succeeding generation that has served in the military…pretty impressive really! Read it HERE.
In my family, I only recently found a Civil War participant, Nathan Adams Buker, pictured above, my 3x great-grandfather. He joined Company G of the Maine 17th Infantry Regiment on August 18, 1862 at age 36. There is some confusion as to what happened after that, but his record says he did not return after a furlough in April, 1963, was captured at his brother’s in October, and was mustered out in 1865. It’s not clear if he rejoined his company or was imprisoned. (His regiment fought at Gettysburg, in the bloody wheatfield battle, but it appears he was AWOL at that time.)
My kids’ great-grandfather, Percy H. Ingles, served in Europe during World War I, but I have no idea about the details.
Their grandfather, Robert Coffin Ingles, pictured above, spent his 21st birthday in a German POW Camp after being captured at the Battle of the Bulge. He was in several camps, one being Stalag 12A in Limberg, Germany, one of the largest camps. Prisoners were denied food, clothing, hot water, heat or contact. He really suffered the effects of this, both mentally and physically, for the rest of his life. After 4 months captivity and with him weighing only 110 lbs., the camp was liberated by the Welsh Guards. You can read his own words about that part of his life HERE.
I do have several men that did duty in the Home or National Guard. These include:
My 3x great-grandfather, Captain James Masterman, pictured left, grandson of the Revolutionary War James above, served in the Home Militia in Maine.
My 2x great-grandfather, Melvin Hopkins, that served on the National Guard in PA for many years before being honorably discharged in 1896. (Discharge Papers HERE)
My kids’ 3x great-grandfather, William M. McMahan, was a Captain in the Caroline County, Maryland Guard (Certificate HERE) during the Civil War, corresponding with the Governor requesting supplies for his men. (Read HERE & HERE)
Thank you to all veterans for your sacrifices - we wouldn’t be here without you!