Archive for June 2015

Thomas Child Cited for Courage at Fredericksburg Battle

I wanted to write a follow up post to my discovery about my Great-grandfather, Thomas Webber Child. And a debt of gratitude goes out to Don Thompson historian of the 18th Massachusetts for this information.

First of all I knew little about my Dad's side of the family but came to a point in my life where I felt it was long overdue to find out more. And what I discovered about my lineage was astounding. Not only did I learn more about my Great-grandfather's service in the Civil War but I discovered that my 4th Great Grandfather, Jonas Child from Waltham, MA fought with Abraham Pierce's Company at Lexington and Concord on April 19, 1775. He subsequently fought at the battle of Dorchester Heights and of course survived the war.

Returning to Thomas what was incredible was that a Carte de Visite survived and last week I came across a picture of him on the website Find a Grave. According to Don Thompson 1400 men served in the 18th Massachusetts but only about 110 images of them exist. So this photo that I am sharing with you now is truly rare.

Thomas Child, My Great-grandfather
Thomas Webber Child:  born Dec. 11, 1837 at Dorchester, MA, the son of Jonathan and Sarah Child. Per the 1860 U.S. Census, Thomas, age 22,  was listed as the head of household as his father died in 1853. The home was occupied by his mother Sarah, age 24, sisters Hannah C., age 24, and Louisa, age 18, and brothers France J., age 14, and Fred E., age 10.

Child  was a 23 year-old Shoemaker from North Bridgewater, MA, (Brockton) when he enlisted in that town on August 24, 1861 and was mustered into the 18th Mass. Infantry on August 24, 1861 as a Private in Co. E.  Per records he was 5 ft. 6-3/4 in. tall, with a dark complexion, hazel eyes, and brown hair.

 He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant on Nov. 1, 1862.  Child was engaged with the Regiment in 1862 at the Battle of Fredericksburg. He was one of 11 men from Company E cited for their courage at the battle of Fredericksburg, fought on Dec. 13, 1862, by Lt. Col. Joseph Hayes, regimental commander (see citation below).

Head Quarters 18th Regiment Mass. Infty
Camp near Potomac Creek Va Dec. 21 62

General Order No. 51

The Lieut. Col. Hayes Commanding conceives it his duty to publish in Orders the names of those brave men of the command who when repulsed in the first charge made by this Regiment upon the Enemys batteries in the action of the 13th this attested their courage discipline and devotion by again rallying around their colors and advancing to the second attack.

Co. "E"
Sergeant T. Child  (Thomas W.)
               N. Dorr  (Nathan)
Corporal  Walter Weston       (Killed in action)
               Henry Wright
Private    Edmund Churchill
               C.A. Broadbent  (Charles W.)
               Henry Weston
               Francis Purrington
               Jesse Swift
               Ham Wadsworth  (Hamilton)
               James J. Dowd

Thomas was with the Regiment during 1862 in the Peninsula Campaign, including the siege at Yorktown, Second Bull Run, where the Regiment absolutely got decimated, Shepardstown, and Fredericksburg.  In 1863 he would have been at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg along with a number of other relatively minor actions.  The Regiment, for example, only had about 110 men

Diary Entry: A Trip to Alexandria, VA Feb 5, 1862

Diary of David C. Meechan, Co. E (Drew Archival Library, Duxbury, MA)
"February 5 [1862] - Sun out this morning.  Tom Child , Herbert Baker , and myself got passes from our colonel to go to Alexandria for all day.  Had a nice time.  Queer looking old town, old fashioned buildings, narrow, muddy streets.  No business but military, lots of soldiers, provost guards, freight details, officers, and men like ourselves on leave to see the town.  Only a few restaurants and rum shops open doing business, unruly soldiers cleaned others out.  We got back to camp at night; came on the military railroad free.  Mud, mud, mud.  We can not move on the enemy now, and I guess the enemy cannot move on us."

18th Mass Infantry Monument, Gettysburg Battlefield

At Gettysburg Thomas fought with the 18th Mass under Colonel William Tilton and the First Brigade under General Barnes and the 5th Corp. They fought a fierce battle near the Wheatfield and the Rose Woods. Below is an except from Col. Tilton's actual report on the battle.

Middletown, Md., July 9, 1863.

    "At 4:30 p.m. on July 2, the brigade, under my command, advanced to the front, and was placed, by order of General Barnes, in order of battle in a piece of woods at the south of Mr. Rose's house. The Second Brigade was on our left, but there being no infantry upon our right, I made a crotchet by refusing the right wing of my right battalion (One hundred and eighteenth Pennsylvania Volunteers, Colonel Gwyn).
                        No sooner was the line formed than the foe attacked our front. The onslaught was terrible and my losses heavy--so much so that I was somewhat doubtful if our line could withstand it. This fact I communicated to the general commanding division, who ordered me to fall back in good order if unable to hold the position; but my men behaved nobly, and twice repulsed the assailants. My colonels wished to advance. Being anxious about my right, however, I reconnoitered in person, and discovered the enemy in large force coming from the direction of Rose's house, with the evident design of outflanking me. I immediately retired and took up a new position (in two lines), at the left and rear of a battery which had been posted about 300 yards to my right and rear. The battery soon commenced to retreat, firing, followed by the rebels, who were now again upon my right flank. To avoid this flank movement, I retired, firing, a short distance in the timber, and then moved across an open field, took up a new position upon the right of the Second Division, and reported to General Sykes. In this last movement I was greatly embarrassed by squads of men and parts of regiments, who, hurrying from the front, broke into and through my line. I think, however, that I saved my brigade from great disaster after it could no longer do any good in front, and succeeded in forming a new line, which was retained through the night.
            All of my officers and men did their duty, their whole duty, and showed the greatest coolness and courage, and where all did so well it were invidious to mention names.
On the 3d, we relieved the Third Brigade, on duty, holding the rocky hill upon the extreme left. (Little Round Top)
        On the 4th, I advanced the brigade to the edge of the woods in our front, and sent out a strong line of skirmishers to feel the enemy. The report of this reconnaissance has been made by order directly to Major-General Sykes.
        My loss on the 2d instant was 12 killed, 80 wounded, and 17 missing; total, 109.
        Owing to forced marches, we had remaining on the 2d only 474 men, and as part of these were not actually engaged, it will be seen that the percentage of loss is very great."

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel, Commanding First Brigade.

After Gettysburg Thomas Child drew what was considered a very plum assignment, In late July 1863, he was assigned to train recruits in Long Island and Galloups Island, both in Boston Harbor, from July 21, 1863 to June 20, 1864. The diary entry below by David Meechan confirms the assignment as well as David's envy that he was not going.

"July 19, 1863 diary of David C. Meechan, Co. E Pleasant again today.  Another short march about five miles toward the Gap.  Tom Child and Capt. [Thomas] Weston are detailed to go home to drill conscripts.  I wished I could go."

Thomas was mustered out of military service on August 23, 1864 at the expiration of his three year enlistment. Following his military service, Child resided in North Bridgewater (now Brockton), MA, where he worked as Shoe fitter. He married Martha B. Sawyer, the 21 year old daughter of George and Susan, at Bridgewater, MA on Sept. 18, 1870.   Per the 1880 Census he resided with his wife Martha B., age 31, and 4 year-old daughter Susan E. at 153 Keith Ave., Brockton. He ended up having four children; Susan, Warren, Wilbur and my grandfather Herbert Shurtleff Child who was born in Brockton, MA on April 27, 1883 and married Genevieve Hoyt at Brockton on October 11, 1904.  Herbert and Genevieve had three children, Madeline, born in 1907, Donald S. born in 1910, and my father Robert Warren Child, born in 1912.

Tom Child was a member of the Fletcher Webster, G.A.R. Post No. 13, Brockton.  He applied for an Invalid pension on Dec. 21, 1900 and received initial  benefits of $6.00 per month under Certificate #: 1025516, due to disabilities from rheumatism, a hernia, and piles.  Child, who was receiving a pension of $30 per month, died at his home, 36 Keith Ave., Brockton, MA on Jan. 21, 1914 and was buried at Union Cemetery, Brockton.
Posted by Robert Child

New Screenplay and Manuscript Analysis and Consulting Services Offered

Today I am announcing new professional services for authors as well as screenwriters.  I have been asked by folks over the years to review or take a look at their stories. I am always humbled as it means they value my opinion. But they also know I have actually sold and produced stuff in addition to having a publishing deal with Random House. So they get pretty sound advice.

So I am announcing the availability of my script and story consulting services with a wide variety of choices all purchasable online. It could not be easier and turn around is fast. My insight will help you know if you're on the right track, strengthen your character development as well as story arc. But ultimately my industry insight will make your project more marketable and sellable. Who knows it may even help to land you a writing deal with a major publishing house! No guarantees of course.

One thing I have always loved is writing. It is my passion and escape and profession. So if you are a writer at any skill level explore my offerings at the link below. There are economical options all the way up to full manuscript analysis. And of course I offer straight hourly consulting as well.

When you have a moment check all the options out at the link below. And thanks in advance if you become a valued client.

Posted by Robert Child

My Great Grandfather Fought at Little Round Top

18th Massachusetts Monument at Gettysburg
I guess you can file this in the category of amazing discoveries, or simply "wow I never knew!" Thanks to a free trial at I discovered my Civil War lineage. I have done count 'em three films on Gettysburg one on Antietam and have two box-sets at PBS Home Video, America and the Civil War and Gettysburg and the Civil War. I never stopped to consider, however, that I might have a personal history with the War Between the States or why the pull was so strong to do these films but now I know why.

There in the Massachusetts official record my Great Grandfather Thomas W. Child (1837-1914) mustered in to Company "E" of the 18th Massachusetts on August 24th (my youngest son's birthday) 1861 as a private. He made Sargent on November 2nd 1862. He mustered out on August 23, 1864 after the required three-year enlistment. Thomas was the father of Herbert S. Child my grandfather and father to Robert Warren Child my father born in 1912. To say I was both astonished and proud about this discovery would be an understatement. My father's side of the family always remained a mystery to me as he died young at 55 when I was just  4 years old.

The 18th Mass fought gallantly at Second Battle of Bull Run, Shepardstown, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Cold Harbor, Petersburg and of course Gettysburg.
At Gettysburg they were part of the 5th Corps arriving on July 2nd to take a position at the base of Little Round Top where even after Chamberlain's famous charge the fight was still raging.  On the 3rd from their position recorded in diaries they clearly described seeing the Confederates launch their ill conceived final charge. And in fact the 18th was there with Union artillery to help make Pickett's Charge a thundering hell.

I will write more about Thomas W. Child as I dig deeper into the unit history. This has certainly been a personal thrill to know I have a connection to the battle which I have produced three films on. I just don't know why I didn't look into this earlier.

More Info:
18th Mass Website
Their Blog
Wikipedia Entry
Posted by Robert Child

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