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For inquiries or to read more about the Civil War, contact Bill and Liz Hallett for their recent publication, Newburyport and the Civil War, nbptcw@gmail.com


Albert W. BartlettAmos W. LeeFrederick DouglassCaleb Cushing
Richard PlumerJoseph MoodyWilliam Lloyd GarrisonJohn R. Bayley
ShipbuildingAlbert Pike35th Massachusetts Company BMourning Lincoln

Albert W. Bartlett

(57 State Street, Arthur Page Building)

The Eighth Massachusetts Regiment repairing was put to work repairing railroad lines, as depicted in this rendering from Frank Lesley’s Illustrated Newspaper. Library of Congress.

When Confederates fired upon Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 initiating war, President Abraham Lincoln called for volunteers from the loyal states to put down the rebellion.

All towns and cities had local militias during peace and war time to aid in regional emergencies. Newburyport’s militia was called the "Cushing Guards," and was the first from the Clipper City to leave. They left April 16th and the same day, a message from Ben Butler in the Newburyport Daily News, "He who hangs back now is a traitor to his country and should be dealt with accordingly."

The leader of what would become Co A of the 8th Massachusetts Regiment was Albert W. Bartlett. The 20 men under Bartlett signed on for 90 days, having signed up at this building, and would fall under the authority of Benjamin Butler and defend railroads in and around Baltimore.

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Amos W. Lee

(Institution for Savings Bank parking lot)

Amos W. Lee signed up with the 35th Massachusetts Co B in the summer of 1862 and arrived in time to participate in the Battle of South Mountain and the Battle of Antietam, where he was wounded. He witnessed horrors in Civil War field hospitals such as a drunken surgeon amputating the wrong arm of a soldier, and men with no experience as doctors performing surgery.

The monument to the thirty-fifth Massachusetts was placed near the location where Captain Albert W. Bartlett was killed in action.

In the summer 1863, while working on commerce ships again, his ship was in New York Harbor in time to witness the New York Draft Riots.

It was after his time as a soldier that he called #10 Prospect St. his home.

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Frederick Douglass

(corner of Prospect and Fair Streets)

In September 1841, Frederick Douglass and John A. Collins came to Newburyport to speak of the horrors of slavery.

Fourth Religious Society of Newburyport, also known as the Temple or Prospect Street Church. Courtesy of the Newburyport Public Library Archival Center.

They came to the Temple Street Church, also known as Prospect Street Church at the corner of Fair and Prospect Streets. It was the first round of the lecture circuit for Douglass and he was a huge success.

However, their train ride to their next location was not easy as a conductor requested Douglass to move to the back of the train even though he was traveling with Collins.

Upon his arrival in Dover, New Hampshire, Douglass was visibly beaten and had torn clothing.

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Caleb Cushing

(63 High Street)

Portrait of Caleb Cushing.

Caleb Cushing was one of Newburyport’s most prominent citizens in the 19th century. With a Harvard education behind him, Mr. Cushing would achieve such posts in life as a Mayor of Newburyport, Member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives; Ambassador to China; and in diplomatic positions for President Andrew Johnson and President Ulysses Grant.

As a member of President Franklin Pierce’s cabinet he became very good friends with Jefferson Davis. The men were like brothers. Davis visited Newburyport in October 1858, staying at Cushing’s home at 63 High St., and spoke at Faneuil Hall in Boston. Cushing’s relationship with Davis and other Southern connections made him suspect during the Civil War (Jefferson Davis became the President of the Confederate State of America).

In 1860, Mr. Cushing would be considered as a possible candidate for President but Stephen Douglas became the Democratic nominee.

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Richard Plumer

(79 Federal Street)

79 Federal Street, home of Richard Plumer. Photograph by Elizabeth Hallett.

Most people in Newburyport did not have abolitionist sentiments and didn’t want to hamper business trade with southern ports which fed most of the Newburyport citizenry.

However, abolitionist Richard Plumer had a dry goods store on State Street and going against the grain, was an active agent for the Underground Railroad helping escaped slaves on their way to Canada out of the reach of the Fugitive Slave Act which would return them to bondage.

During Frederick Douglass’ visit to Newburyport in 1841, he stayed at the home of Plumer, 79 Federal Street.

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Joseph Moody

(7 Milk Street, viewable from Federal Street)

At 7 Milk Street lived the loyal son of Newburyport, Joseph Moody.

Civil War prison, Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia. Library of Congress.

Moody served in the 48th Massachusetts in places like New Orleans and Baton Rouge, but continued his serve in the 59th Massachusetts Regiment leaving for battle in April ’64 in time for the Battle of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor.

It was while at the siege of Petersburg that Moody was taken as a P.O.W. and served time in the infamous Libby Prison in Richmond, then to prisons in Macon, GA, then Savannah, GA and finally to Charlotte, NC. He made an escape attempt but was recaptured.

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William Lloyd Garrison

(School Street)

Arguably the most famous abolitionist, William Lloyd Garrison, was born in the house on School Street right behind Old South Church.

The childhood home of William Lloyd Garrison located on School Street. William Hallett Collection.

As a young boy Garrison was apprenticed to the Newburyport Herald and learned the business of newspapers. This took him to editing the Free Press in 1826 and around this time he became friends with fellow advocate John Greenleaf Whittier of Amesbury.

In 1831 in Boston, he began publishing his anti-slavery paper The Liberator which was so powerful it was made illegal in many southern states. Publication ceased in December 1865 when the war and slavery were both over.

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John R. Bayley

(65 Water Street, Newburyport Art Association)

John R. Bayley signed on with the 35th Massachusetts Co B and fought at the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam in September 1862. He was discharged in December of ’62 from wounds he received at Antietam and came home to his father’s flour and grain business.

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(One Market Square, now known as the Firehouse)

The waterfront of Newburyport in the 19th century was full of shipyards, building and repairing ships and making all the necessary items such ships would need.

George W. Jackman was mayor of the city during the Civil War but also was the owner of most of the ship building along the Merrimack.

Trade with ports worldwide made Newburyport and many other northern ports both lucrative and important for business.

Built in Newburyport, the USS Marblehead, served the U.S. Navy. Courtesy of Naval Historical Center (Department of the Navy).

After a number of Newburyport’s ships were sunk by the famous Confederate ship, the C.S.S. Alabama, Jackman was commissioned to build a ship to help in the blockade of the South. (The U.S.S. Marblehead was the sister ship to the Kearsarge which finally sank the Alabama). When the Marblehead was launched, crowds came from all around to watch and most viewed the site from Central Wharf (behind The Firehouse).

The Marblehead would fight in the Peninsula Campaign of 1862 and then move onto the South Carolina and Georgia coasts where in December of 1863 she was involved in a raid on the Stono River where two of her crew received the Congressional Medal of Honor.

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Albert Pike

(Market Square, Bull Nose)

Portrait of Albert Pike dressed in Masonic attire. Library of Congress.

Albert Pike walked these streets. He was born in Boston in December 1809 but was raised in Newburyport by parents from Byfield.

Unable to afford a Harvard education, he taught school in town and even became a principal before the age of 22 but then decided to "go west" and seek his fortune.

Pike ended up in Arkansas and became a man of prominence in newspapers and law so much so that when the war broke out, he became General Albert Pike of the Confederate States of America.

General Pike’s most famous encounter of the war was leading Cherokee, Choctaw, Creek, Chickasaw and Seminole Indians at the Battle of Pea Ridge.

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35th Massachusetts Company B

(37 State Street)

Burnsides Bridge at Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg, Maryland.

Albert W. Bartlett, the veteran of the 8th Massachusetts, recruited men for the 35th Massachusetts Company B and they departed in August 1862 in time for the Battles of South Mountain and Antietam.

At the Battle of Antietam they fought at the infamous Burnside’s Bridge where many were wounded or died including Captain Bartlett who was killed in action at the age of 30.

Before the war, Bartlett worked at the family dry goods store at 37 State St.

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Mourning Lincoln

(School Street)

On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, the same day William Lloyd Garrison was present for the raising of the American flag at Fort Sumter and with the war winding down, President Abraham Lincoln attended a play in Washington with his wife Mary.

Funeral service program for President Abraham Lincoln held at the Unitarian Church. Library of Congress.

Lincoln’s assassination was a shock to the people across the country as he was the first president assassinated. Uncertainty reigned as no one knew if the war would resume under President Andrew Johnson.

News of the horrific deed reached Newburyport Saturday late in the day thanks to the speed of the telegraph.

A special meeting was held by the City Council on Monday, April 17th and it was decided that the City would be draped in black crepe for 30 days. City Hall, public buildings and almost all local businesses wrapped themselves in black. Flags went to half staff.

A day of mourning was held on Wednesday, April 19th. All churches held services that day and from noon to 2 p.m. a special service was held at the Pleasant Street Church (now Unitarian) with the mayor and other city officials in attendance.

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