Object of the Month: July 2013 – Theodore Lyman Bonney Civil War Photograph

In honor of this patriotic month, July’s Object of the Month is a photograph of one of the twenty Hanson soldiers who gave their lives in the service of the U.S. Army during the Civil War: Theodore Lyman Bonney.

Theodore Lyman Bonney

Theodore Lyman Bonney (27 Oct. 1836, Taunton, Mass. – 11 May 1863, Aquia Creek, Va.)

Theodore Lyman Bonney was born at Taunton, Mass., 27 Oct. 1836, the son of Ezekiel and Angeline Dean (White) Bonney.  According to Elsie Calder’s Looking Back, he was “taken to Hanson when a young boy where his youth passed in the usual manner of boys upon a farm and in a district school”. Prior to the Civil War, he worked as an iron molder, and he participated in a Hanson debate club, details of which can be read about here. He enlisted for a three-month service in the Civil War as a sergeant in Company A of the 3rd Regiment of Massachusetts Infantry on 23 April 1861 and was discharged on 22 July 1861 when his term expired, and therefore was referred to as one of the Massachusetts “Minute Men of 1861” who responded to President Lincoln’s first call for Union soldiers in April 1861.

He re-enlisted 2 December 1861 as a sergeant for a three-year service in the Civil War in Company E of the 32nd Regiment. He died of typhoid fever at Aquia Creek, Virginia on 11 May 1863 at the age of 26.T.L. Bonney’s military records kept by the town of Hanson can be seen here.

History of the Town of Hanson includes the following biography of Theodore: T.L. Bonney “was named a member of the Halifax Light Infantry Company prior to the war. While in the Halifax Company, he passed through the ranks and on July 9, 1860, he was commissioned 3rd Lieutenant. On April 16, 1861, the 3rd Mass. Regiment was called into service and the Halifax Company left with it as Co. A. The U.S. service not recognizing 3rd and 4th lieutenants, Bonney chose to stay in and was given the rank of sargent, in which capacity he served until he was mustered out in July. Anxious to do more for the defense of his country, he re-enlisted in December of 1861, for three years, and became sargent in Company E of the First Mass. Infantry Battalion and saw service guarding rebel prisoners at Fort Warren. In May of 1862 he was promoted to Orderly Sargent and transferred to Company C, the battalion becoming the 32nd Mass. Regiment. The regiment joined the Army of the Potomac in July and Bonney saw service with the regiment in the Peninsular campaign, escaped the second battle of Bull Run and on reaching Frederick, Maryland was exhausted by a continued march of more than two weeks, he was sent back to a hospital in Washington. He later rejoined his regiment and took part in the Battle of Fredericksburg in which the regiment was exposed, without shelter, to the rebel fire for thirty hours. From Fredericksburg the regiment returned to Falmouth and spent the winter, with much suffering, in picket duty and reconnoitering. On the 27th of April the regiment moved forward to Chancellorsville where after several day of fighting they were forced again to cross the Rappahannock. It was during this retreat that Sargent Bonney, overcome by exposure and fatigue, sank by the way and was taken to a field hospital at Acquia Creek. After a short week of delirious fever he passed away on the 11th day of May, 1863.”

T.L. Bonney was buried at Potomac Creek Station in Virginia. In June 1863, Theodore’s commander Captain Steven Rich notified his brother, Otis L. Bonney, of Theodore’s activities until his time of death, and the location of his grave. Otis then arranged for Theodore’s remains to be disinterred and brought to Hanson via train, where he was buried in Fern Hill Cemetery.

Gravestone of Theodore Lyman Bonney, Fern Hill Cemetery, Hanson, MA. Courtesy of FindAGrave volunteer Toni Arsenault.

Theodore had a lasting legacy: Hanson Post 127 of the Grand Army of the Republic and Woman’s Relief Corps No. 146 each named their local chapters in his honor (the organizational papers of both of these chapters are held by the Hanson Historical Society).

 

[Posted by Mary Blauss Edwards, Hanson Historical Society Curator]

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