David Chapin, A Forgotten Casualty of the Civil War
Copyright © April 2002, Clovis La Fleur
W. H. Stark Cemetery / Ceremony
Placing David Chapin's Tombstone / 12/02/2002
David Chapin, private in the 42nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, Company I, is not a descendant of Aaron Stark. So why would we be interested in the life of a young man not related to our family? To me, David Chapin represents all of the young men of the Civil
War who didn't return home, dying far from their loved ones and placed in long forgotten graves. He didn't die bravely in battle but succumbed to disease which claimed more lives in the Civil War than were lost in the heat of battle. He was buried in the William Hawley Stark Cemetery along the path of march
like so many others in that war and briefly mourned by his comrades-in-arms who then had to continue their own march into an uncertain future. David is representative of William's son, Samuel Hawley Stark of the 13th Texas Confederate Cavalry Regiment, who died of disease one month after David in a Little Rock,
Arkansas Hospital and was buried in a long forgotten and unmarked grave along with 600 other men at Camp Nelson. Disease didn't care if your cause was just or if you were Union or Confederate, for it treated all persons, regardless of their position in society, equally. Isn't it ironic that disease didn't
discriminate in a Civil War that was about all persons being treated equally, which truly reveals we are really all the same accept for our prejudice, which is an illness of the mind. Let David's story be a reminder of the tragedy of a war that pitted brother against brother, father against son, Family against Family.
May we resolve to eradicate prejudice, which is the root cause of all wars.
Chapin: A Forgotten Casualty of the Civil War
David Chapin was born in Boston, Massachusetts May 2, 1843 to George Austin Chapin and Rachel Binney
Seaverns. His grandparents were David Chapin, Jr. and Miranda Fiske. David Chapin the older moved from Upton, his birth place to Boston in 1820 where he founded and built a historic business
which began with David personally using a handcart to deliver firewood to the homes of his first customers. Two years later he formed the firm of Prescott and Chapin which dispensed coal and wood for the next 50 years. He later became a director of the Boston & Hingham Steamship Company, where he served
as Treasurer for 30 years and as a director of the company for 40 years. He was a member of the Boston Common Council for six years.
Young David's Father, George, was working in the family business of Prescott & Chapin at the beginning of the Civil War, with most members of the Chapin family living in the Liverpool Wharf area of Boston. Young David's Family was modestly well to do and many were participants in the
activities of Prescott & Chapin. No doubt, young David was beginning to learn the family business working as a clerk when the Civil War began and his future looked bright as a member of a hard working and loving family.
In the early morning hours of April 12, 1861, Confederate Artillery fired on Fort Sumter in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina and after
thirty-three hours of bombardment, the Federal garrison surrendered. On April 15, President Lincoln called 75,000 militiamen into Federal service to put down the
rebellion of the seceded States and on April 19 he ordered a naval blockade of the southern states from South Carolina to the mouth of the Rio Grande River. The Civil War had been raging for one and a half years when David Chapin voluntarily joined the Army September 8, 1862 at the age of nineteen
years old with the permission of his parents and reported for duty on September 16, 1862.[4,5] David and his fellow recruits commenced training at Camp
Meigs, located near Reedville, Massachusetts just outside of Boston.
By late summer of 1862, Texas became an inviting target for a Union offensive when a yellow fever epidemic weakened the Confederate defenses along the upper Texas Coast and on September 24, 1862, Union ships blockading the Texas coast took advantage of these circumstances. Warships under the command of Lt. Frederick
Crocker crossed the sand bar at Sabine Pass, a strategic entrance to the Sabine River and east Texas and western Louisiana, and began shelling
<email@example.com>, "Samuel Chapin Family."
Web site located at
Hayes, Tom, Website
entitled "Letters of the Civil War." URL http://www.letterscivilwar.com/index.html. Web Page with data from the 1870 Boston, Massachusetts Street Directory is at URL http://www.letterscivilwar.com/david_chapin_census_street_directory.html.
This data shows members of David's family were living at addresses in Boston located in the Liverpool Wharf area which was apparently a mailing district for Boston.
Wooster, Ralph A., "Texas And Texans In The Civil War", page 25. Eakin Press, A Division of Sunbelt Media, Inc., P. O. Box Drawer 90159, Austin, Texas 78709. Copyright 1995.
Copy of Original Record from National Archives Trust Fund, Washington, DC 20408,
NWCTB. Copy In Files.
Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War. Published in 1931 - 37 by the Adjutant General. Content: David Chapin, resident of Boston, Massachusetts, occupation, Clerk. Enlisted as a private on 08 September 1862 at the age of 19. Enlisted in
Company I, 42nd Infantry Regiment Massachusetts on 16 September 1862, was POW on 01 January 1863, died of disease on 02 February 1863 in Stark's Landing, TX.
After a brief exchange of artillery fire, Confederate Major Josephus S. Irvine spiked his guns and evacuated the Fort. September 26th, Crocker's men came ashore, destroying Fort Sabine, a railway bridge over Taylor's Bayou, and the railway depot near Sabine City.1
In September of 1862, the Union Naval flotilla blockading the Texas Coast Commanded by Commodore William B.
Renshaw, was ordered to move their ships into Galveston Harbor if conditions were favorable. October 4, the Harriet Lane steamed into the harbor and in a bold move, Renshaw demanded the
City of Galveston and the harbor surrender. Taking advantage of the confusion of the local authorities, he then ordered his other seven ships holding position offshore to enter the harbor. The Confederate battery at Fort Point challenged the incoming ships by firing a warning shot at the Union fleet and was promptly
silenced by the larger guns of the Union Warship Owasco. Worried about the safety of civilians living in Galveston, the city's defenders negotiated a four day truce which would allow the residents time to evaluate the island. However, during the truce, Confederate troops evacuated the island along with
their weapons and machinery which was vigorously protested by Renshaw but which he could not prevent with his fleet anchored in the harbor. Galveston was occupied by Union forces on October 8 which was described by prominent Galveston attorney, William Pitt Ballinger as "a bleak day in our history."2
Although Renshaw had control of the harbor, he considered his occupation of Galveston Island tenuous for he only had 150 men to occupy the island and needing food for both the Federal military personnel and the civilian population, could not destroy the railroad bridge connecting the island to the mainland. He sent a
request to the Union Command in New Orleans for reinforcements of which the first contingent of 264 men arrived on the day before Christmas of 1862 and an additional 700 were scheduled to arrive several days later.
Meanwhile, David completed his training and the 42nd Regiment of Massachusetts was organized at Camp Meigs November 11th of 1862 leaving Massachusetts for New York on the same day. On December 2nd, Companies D, G, and I boarded the Union steamboat Saxon in
New York bound for New Orleans where it arrived December 16th. The other companies of the 42nd followed several days later in three more steamboats arriving in New Orleans December 29th and January 1st.
were to be attached to the Department of the Gulf, Sherman's Division, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 19th Army Corps, from January of 1863 to August of 1863.
After being in New Orleans only three days, Companies D, G, and I, consisting of 264 men, left New Orleans December 19, 1862 aboard the
"Saxton" and arrived in Galveston, Texas on December 24th, being the first contingent of reinforcements requested by Renshaw to arrive.3
The companies were under the command of Colonel Isaac S. Burrell and garrisoned in
buildings at the end of Kuhn's Wharf where they could be protected by the guns of the Naval ships in the harbor. Burrell had two lines of barricades erected to block approaches from shore and had part of the planking removed in front of the wharf to further discourage an attack from shore.4
Major General John Bankhead Magruder, a veteran officer who had served with Robert E. Lee in the fighting around Richmond, became the Confederate commander of all of the forces in Texas on November 29, 1862 and gave the recapture of Galveston top priority. He began planning for the recapture of the island before
additional troops could be landed. Forces at his disposal were several Texas Cavalry and Artillery Units , assorted state militia, and two river steamers , the Bayou City and Neptune, which had been converted to gunboats. The vessels John F. Carr and Lucy Gwinn were available to serve
as tenders. Magruder devised a plan by which the Bayou City and Neptune would attack the Union Warships at anchor in the Harbor simultaneously with an Confederate land attack of the Union Infantry forces occupying Galveston Island. Modifications were made to the two Confederate gun boats in preparation
for the attack and the small flotilla was placed under the command of Leon Smith. The land assault was to be led by the recently promoted Brigadier General William R. Surry. The land forces were to cross over to the island under the cover of darkness using the railroad bridge. However, before the preparations could be
completed, the Union reinforcements arrived on Christmas Day. Magruder led a reconnaissance party to the island to evaluate the defenses of the newly arrived troops and observed the barricades that had been erected on Kuhn's Wharf and the planking which had been removed by the defenders. On his return, he revised the
plan for the land assault, adding ladders to their equipment to allow them to scale the wharf from the shallow water near
Wooster, Ralph A., "Texas And Texans In The Civil War", page 62.
Page 63. Sources from note 9 of
publication; Official Records, Navies, 19:256-258; Barr, "Texas Coastal
Defense," 13; Ashcraft, "Texas: 1860-1866," 118-120; William Pitt Ballinger, Dairy, Barker History Center, quoted in
McComb, Galveston, 75.
entitled "42nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment", National Park Service, Civil War Soldiers and Sailor System,
Wooster, Ralph A., "Texas And Texans In The Civil War", pages 65-66.
At 4:00 AM on New Year's day, January 1, 1863, Magruder himself pulled the lanyard of the center situated siege gun placed at the end of 20th street, sending the shot into one of the buildings at the end of Kuhn's Wharf. The 42nd Massachusetts, quickly recovering from being so rudely awakened,
took up defensive positions and returned fire. However, the Confederate Gun boats had not yet arrived on station to engage the Union Warships in the harbor when Magruder began his attack on Kuhn's Wharf and his men came under intense cannon fire consisting of shell and canister ordinance. Under Colonel Cook, a 500 man
storming party attempted to dislodge the 42nd Massachusetts from the wharf using the scaling ladders. Wading through the cold water from the Strand to the Wharf, they quickly realized they had miscalculated the depth of the water for the ladders proved to be too short. Panic spread through the Texans ranks as the
combined fire from the Union ships and the 42nd Massachusetts muskets caused them to scramble for any cover they could find.
David Chapin's Sergeant, William H. Hunt of Company I gave the following account of the battle from the perspective of the 42nd Massachusetts.
"The fight at Galveston commenced at precisely half-past four o'clock, by the firing of a rebel gun at the head of the wharf, where the detachment of the 42d Mass. was stationed. This gun was immediately answered by the fleet. The firing immediately became very rapid and continuous, and for
three hours it was one sheet of flame from the shore to the fleet and from the fleet to the shore. A building at the left of the temporary barricade, which the Massachusetts boys had hastily thrown up, was supposed by the rebels to contain our soldiers, and they directed their shots against it, riddling it through and
through with two or three hundred shot and shells. Several of the latter burst in the building. About the time the fire was hottest, three rebel companies volunteered to charge our troops on the wharf; but they were driven back with considerable loss. A second attempt was made to reach the wharf by the water, into
which the rebels waded breast high, with the purpose of gaining the wharf with scaling ladders. But as fast as they mounted these they were shot by our men, and probably a dozen were killed by our musketry. A gunboat finally opened on them. They were quickly dispersed, the second attempt to drive the Massachusetts boys
from their position was a complete failure."
By daylight, Magruder had retreated with heavy casualties. As the men began to be able to see the carnage and destruction around them the Texans then saw the Bayou City and Neptune streaking towards the Harriet Lane under a full head of steam with their bow howitzers belching
flame and smoke as they came into range. The Harriet Lane was damaged by a shot from the Bayou City which continued bearing down on the Harriet Lane, ramming her which severely damaged both vessels. Confederate Soldiers on the Bayou City were able to board the Harriet Lane
which turned the tide of battle in favor of the Confederates and by 7 AM the Union Guns boats in the harbor had struck white flags. General Surry approached the position of the 42nd under a flag of truce and demanded Colonel Burrell surrender. Burrell considered he had little choice with the Union Warships flying
white flags and surrendered his entire command. Burrell offered his sword to General Surry who replied, "Colonel - a brave man deserves his sword, and I can not take yours."[1,2]
During the battle, the flag ship of Commodore
Renshaw, the Westfield, ran aground and as the
Commodore was attempting to destroy the vessel, exploded prematurely, killing
Renshaw, three of his officers, and the entire crew of a waiting boat.
Soon after their surrender, the men of the 42nd Massachusetts stacked arms and were given three hours to prepare to move. Among the fourteen wounded in the battle was Jasper
O'Shanghnessy, Co. D, with wounds to both legs requiring his right leg to be amputated below the knee. Francis L.
Co. G, was wounded by a shell in the left side of his bowels, his wound resulting in his death eighteen hours later in a hospital. Sergeant Hunt reported "They [The 42nd Infantry men surrendered by Burrell] then were marched through the rebel lines, and quartered in the city until early in
the afternoon, when they were formed in line and marched five miles to Virginia Point. At 1 o'clock at night they started for Houston by
railroad, and were well treated by the rebels on the journey. They reached Houston at noon the next day, and were quartered at a Cotton Press. The officers were placed in close confinement at the Provost Marshal headquarters, for some time, but finally they were allowed the parole of the city. The
enlisted men were kept under guard; but three at a time were permitted to go up to the city to make purchases."
Campbell, R. Thomas, Article Titled, "Victory At Galveston" published in the Sons of Confederate Veterans publication "Confederate Veteran", Volume Two 2002.
Hayes, Tom, Website titled "Letters of the Civil War."
The movements of the 42nd Massachusetts prisoners did not go unnoticed by the residents of Houston. A Houston Journal reported on January 25th;
"It having been given out that the Federal prisoners captured in the recent battle at Galveston would be up in the morning train a large concourse of citizens assembled at the depot burning with curiosity to see the men who had come to de-elate our land, but who had suddenly been brought up with
a round turn, by the unparalleled generalship of our noble commander. After waiting two hours in the rain, the locomotive was heard, and the train came in view. It stopped half a mile from the depot, where the Federals were landed, formed into line, and under guard marched to the depot and thence to their
quarters where they will remain for the present.
"The colonel of the regiment, three captains, six lieutenants, and 350 non-commissioned officers, privates and sailors, are all that could be brought on this train. Some 275 more will be sent up as soon as possible. We learned from them that the regiment had been in service only four
months, and had been away from their homes in Massachusetts some three months. They were mostly Americans, but occasionally a foreigner might be seen among them, mostly Dutch and Irish. Those with whom our reporter conversed were young men and seemed very intelligent. They acknowledged that the capture of
them and their fleet was one of the most daring achievements of the war, but said that they (the Federals) were taken by complete surprise, being all asleep.
"They had not the slightest previous intimation of what was about to happen. The booming of Magrauder’s artillery was the first thing that aroused them to a sense of the reality. After the boats were silenced and captured, resistance on the part of the land force was in vain.
They therefore surrendered before any damage of any account was done them. Only one of their number was killed, and two or three wounded, according to their own story. They were all remarkably well dressed and accoutered, and all wore a healthy, but rather downcast look. Some indeed, held up their heads and
appeared as light hearted as though they were the conquerors, instead of the conquered; but the most of them looked rather sober.
"Their colonel, a tall, slim specimen of a man, was much stared at but never lifted his eyes from the ground, as our reporter could see, during the whole march. They expressed themselves much pleased with Texas, and acknowledged that they had been kindly treated since they were made
prisoners. One smart looking young fellow remarked that he believed that they were better off prisoners than they were before, because they had now a prospect of getting back home alive; and before it was decidedly problematical. Several negroes were among the prisoners; one of them wearing
bracelets was an escaped slave. One clothed in a sailor’s uniform was very much observed, especially among the boys in the crowd, who failed not to improve the occasion for sport.
"The appearance of the prisoners marching up Main street, was novel in the extreme, and was a sight which did one good to look at. Although our people were wrought up to the highest pitch of excitement, they conducted themselves with becoming moderation towards the
prisoners. Occasionally a boy or two would hoot, but aside from this they were not molested during their whole march.
Altogether they were a fine-looking body of men, and ought to be ashamed of themselves for volunteering their services in the villainy of trying to subjugate a chivalrous
According to Sergeant Hunt, "On Thursday, Jan. 22d, the prisoners were removed from Houston, by railroad, and made fifty-three miles in fifteen hours. They passed through a wild and desolate country, and arrived in Beaumont on Friday, and were quartered in the old saw mill, which was full of hogs and vermin.
The hogs were turned out but the vermin remained." January 29th, they left Beaumont and traveled a short distance to the Neches River where they boarded the steamboat Roebuck which then steamed down river to Sabine Lake and then moved into the Sabine River. Their destination was Burr's
Ferry, Louisiana, located 75 miles up the Sabine River from Sabine Lake. The Roebuck had been modified to accommodate the prisoners, but offered little shelter to the elements and was considered "a miserable old craft" by
Sergeant Hunt. The Roebuck steamed up the river making occasional stops to take on wood and stopped each night because daylight was needed to navigate the shallows of the Sabine. According to Sergeant Hunt, "The weather had been cloudy, rainy and cold almost the entire trip, creating great
inconvenience to the men, who were obliged to use rubber and woolen blankets to stop rain-water leaks in their sleeping places. Several were quite sick."
Hayes, Tom, Website titled "Letters of the Civil War."
Private George Fiske, Company D, had been keeping a diary of the trip and made this entry on February 2nd 1863; "We started at daybreak, and having good luck have made a good day's journey and at four o'clock p.m. tied up here at Stark's Landing or Ferry, being accommodated by a flat
boat as are all the ferries in Texas. There are three or four houses here and quite a large clearing. We are all out of provisions - both meal and meat. Tomorrow the teams are to be dispatched several miles back into the country for meal, and the guard are to hunt cattle. So we shall probably
make but little headway tomorrow."
David Chapin, who was quite ill before leaving Houston, was one of the sick whose condition worsened and on the night of February 2nd, died as a result of his ailments while on board the Roebuck.
On February 3rd, George Fiske made this entry in his diary; "Part of the teams were
dispatched early after meal while the rest were engaged in bringing wood for the boat, and part of the guard went in search of cattle. At ten o'clock we
performed the saddest duty of a soldier - the burial of a comrade, David Chapin, of Company I, who died last night of typhoid fever. After much labor and expense, a rough board coffin was constructed in which the remains were placed and conducted to the grave at the edge of the woods. The guard
marched in front with reversed arms, their bugler playing the "dead march." Upon reaching the grave, we assembled around while the funeral services were conducted by the Chaplain. When all was over, the guard fired three volleys over the grave, and with uncovered heads, we marched past and took
our last look at our departed brother, and then returned to the boat. We felt very grateful to these kind-hearted cowboys for the respect they paid to our dead.
"By noon the teams had returned with a supply of meal; sufficient wood had been taken aboard, three or four cattle brought up and dressed, and everything ready for a start. So we cast off from the shore, and proceeded on our way. The clearings and settlements begin to grow thicker,
the banks higher, and the country more open. We ran rather [?better?] than usual today. It was after dark when we drew up to the Louisiana side, but in a very few minutes, the darkness was relieved by the light of a dozen camp fires. We set fire also to several dead pines, which being full of pitch
were soon blazing to their very tops. We saw a black bear today. He stood on the bank and growled at us as the boat swept by."
David Chapin was buried in an area that later became the family cemetery of William Hawley Stark. A neat head-board, with name, age, company and regiment inscribed thereon, was placed on his grave.
The Roebuck then continued it's journey up the Sabine River,
arriving at Burr's Ferry at 3:30 on the afternoon of February 4th.[2,3]
Private Henry C. Sellea, Company D, who had been sick for four days on the boat, died February 7th, a few days after arriving at Burr's Ferry and was buried in the Burr Family Cemetery, a
ceremony performed as was given David Chapin at Stark's Landing. On the morning of February 9th, the prisoners started their overland march arriving in Alexandria February 18th, 1863, where they were paroled and rejoined the 42nd Massachusetts in New Orleans February 22nd,1863.
After the war, George A. Chapin spoke with those who had served with David in an attempt to find out where his son had been buried. One member of the 42nd Massachusetts, who apparently had attended David's funeral, made a pencil sketch of David's grave which the family had enlarged into an
oil painting. Later, George received a letter from a gentleman who had been traveling in Texas and had visited William Hawley Stark who mentioned their was a Union Soldier buried on his property named David Chapin. The traveling gentleman gave George directions on how to contact Mr. Stark and George sent a letter with
$10 enclosed to pay for the care given to the grave by William's family and expressing a wish to buy the spot and have a fence built around it and have it carefully kept.
George M. Fiske was in Company D, 42nd Massachusetts volunteer infantry (or
M.V.M. as he calls it in the diary). He was from Medfield, Massachusetts. The passages from the diary of George Fiske were contributed by Erica
Hayes, Tom, Website titled "Letters of the Civil War." This account ran in the Roxbury City Gazette; March 12, 1863; pg. 2, col. 5.
Ibid. Reported in the Roxbury City Gazette; February 5, 1863; pg. 2, col. 6.
Boyett, Floyd Willis, Article published in 2002 titled, "Talk About Slow Mail."
George received no reply to his first letter and on the 28th of February in 1867,sent a second letter which also went unanswered. Most likely in despair, George then dropped the matter. Meanwhile, in 1867, the second letter had been delivered to "W. H. Stark" of
Orange, Texas by mistake and was not forwarded to it's intended recipient. As time passed, the William Hawley Stark descendants would tell the story of the Young Union Soldier who was buried in the family plot, but his name would be lost to the new generations and David would become another forgotten casualty of the
Civil War. However, events occurred in the summer of 2001 which would reveal the
idnetity of the "yankee soldier" buried in the William Stark Cemetery.
The following was published by Floyd Boyett.
TALK ABOUT SLOW MAIL!
Copyright © 2002, Floyd Willis Boyett
In the summer of 2001, my wife Bobee and I were on our way back from our son’s home in Jasper and stopped at a new antique shop to see what we could find. Hanging on the wall was a watercolor painting of a Civil War soldier. After close examination I could tell it was very old and original. I paid
the price (Bobee thought I was a little nuts) and brought it home, hoping to some day find out who it was. I talked to a number of people in hopes of getting a lead, but was unsuccessful.
In January of this year, my cousin Gary Rashall and I were in the Newton, Texas History Research Center, researching the Stark line of our family. About 2 minutes after Gary opened the center’s file folder on the Starks of Newton County he said, “Floyd, look at this.” He then handed me a copy
of a picture of a Civil War soldier that was an exact mirror image of my painting! Under the picture it said “Captain John Thomas Stark” from Newton County. You could have knocked me over with a feather! I then checked my line of Starks, which were also in Newton County at this time, but could not come up with a
John Thomas Stark.
I knew there was a Jeremiah M. Stark on the roster list of the Sons of Confederate Veterans of Camp #1790, of which I also am a member. I had not personally met Jeremiah yet but had his phone number, so I called him the next morning. After telling him my story, he said that Captain John Thomas Stark
was his great-grandfather. He also said that he had been hoping to run across someone from my Stark line for 30 years so he could pass something along. He invited me up to his home in Woodville and I was there in an hour! I handed Jeremiah the painting and he said “Yep, that’s my great-grandfather alright!” He
was very excited and invited me in his home. It didn’t take me long to discover that Dr. Jeremiah M. Stark (he’s a retired math professor from Lamar University) was a walking history book. We talked ‘Starks’ for a while and came to the conclusion that we have common relatives (but we had to get back to Scotland
in the early 1600’s to have common ancestors.) He then said “Let me show you something.”
From a large collection of bound manuscripts he handed me a copy of a letter that was delivered to one of his line of Starks by mistake in 1867. It was addressed to “Wm. Hawley Stark, Newton County, Texas”, my great-great-great-grandfather. The letter had been delivered to a W. H. Stark of
Orange, Texas by mistake. That family had held onto the letter for 104 years until, in 1971, Dr. Stark found the letter among numerous other correspondence in a chest-of-drawers that was being sold in an estate sale of his great Aunt Lilly Stark of Orange, Texas. Fortunately he was able to save these papers and now
they are part of the Lutcher Stark Foundation Museum. The copy of the letter he handed me reads:
Boston Feb 28th /67
Dear Sir- I have impatiently waited since writing you some months since, hoping to hear from you. I received a letter last year from a gentleman who had been sojourning in Texas, and had visited you, and wrote to us, concerning Dear David’s grave. I wrote you enclosing a ten dollar bill for you
care of the grave thus far, and wishing to buy the spot have a little fence built around and it carefully kept - but as I
have heard nothing, think it must never have reached you. I directed it as the gentleman wrote, as I shall this, hoping it will reach you - and that we shall hear from
A pencil sketch was taken of the grave by a member of one of the companies, and we had an oil painting taken from it enlarged - his companions that were with him, think it very natural - It is a great comfort to the family, and we feel as if he was resting quietly amid the pines. As he was a retiring
nature, was always fond of the woods, and his comrades have often heard him say - “how he loved to hear the pine-trees roar”. The gentleman wrote me that you had lost sons during the war, how few households in the land but what mourn some loved one. My family join with me in sending kind regards, and remembrances,
to you and yours, and now hoping soon to hear from you I remain -
George A. Chapin
William Hawley Stark, my great-great-great-grandfather, lost 2 Confederate sons in the War Between the States. George A. Chapin lost a Union son. How I wish I could answer this letter and tell Mr. Chapin that I had found David’s grave, and that it was well maintained. If only these two men could
have met each other, hugged, and wiped away each other’s tears. May God rest their souls.
Now, 134 years later, the mail has finally arrived. I will try my best to find David’s grave.
Boyett, Floyd Willis, Article published in 2002
entitled, "Talk About Slow Mail." Contributor to entries
on this page.
As these events were unfolding, Bonnie Smith of Newton, Texas, knowing of my interest and knowledge of the Stark families of Newton County, contacted me and ask if I might provide some assistance to Floyd in his research. I found I had already been communicating with is Aunt Ruby Boyett Burkett and
we began to compare notes. In our exchange of information, Floyd sent me a copy of his article. It was a moving account which would compel anyone to want to help in the search for David's grave site.
I sent a copy to Pauline Stark Moore, descended from Asa Lafitte Stark, William Hawley Stark's brother, who immediately answered she had seen the grave of a Union "Sailor" in 1986 in the W. H. Stark Cemetery located behind the old William H. Stark home located on the original Republic of
Texas Headright. As we began to compare notes, a meeting was arranged with Bonnie Smith by Floyd Boyett for a visit to Newton County. All of those interested were invited and the visit was arranged for Monday, April, 22, 2002. In preparation for the meeting, I sent out feelers to the Boston, Suffolk County,
Massachusetts e-mail list enquiring that if there were any descendants of George A. Chapin, we would certainly like to establish contact with them. A copy was sent to Bonnie Smith, who seeing this story for the first time, became very excited and began to pursue this story even further.
She visited the Ancestry.com Web Site and requested a search for the name David Chapin. To her amazement, the search returned with the following military record for a David Chapin.
¨Source: "Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War", published in 1931 - 37 by the Adjutant General.
¨David Chapin: Residence: Boston, Massachusetts; Occupation: Clerk
¨Service Record: Enlisted as a private on 08 September 1862 at the age of 19. Enlisted in Company I, 42nd Infantry Regiment Massachusetts on 16 September 1862; Was POW on 01 January 1863; Died of disease on 02 February 1863 in Stark's Landing, TX.
It was now quite apparent the "Yankee Soldier" buried in the family plot of William H. Stark was most likely David Chapin of Boston, Massachusetts.
Although family tradition related the Yankee Soldier was brought to Stark's Landing after the Battle of Sabine Pass and may have been a Yankee Sailor, the above information clearly revealed David was in the Union Infantry and died seven months before the Battle of Sabine Pass. His capture on January
1, 1863 placed him, instead, at the Battle of Galveston, which occurred on that very same day, and further examination of the records revealed Companies D, G, and I of the 42nd Regiment of Massachusetts had participated in that battle.
& Bobee Boyett
Chapin Memorial Ceremony Stone placed in W. H. Stark Cemetery.
old W. H. Stark home in background
The visit to Newton, Texas on April 22, 2002 was attended by Floyd Boyett and
his wife Bobee, Dr. Jeremiah Stark, Pauline Stark Moore and her granddaughter
Dawna Snipes Fulton, Gary Rashall, and Clovis LaFleur [the author] and his wife
Dorothy. Bonnie Smith was our guide and she enlisted 87 year old Lena Hughes of
Bon Wier to arrange for us to visit the site, who also joined the group. Lena
had lived in the old Stark Home as a child and is the great-granddaughter of
William Hawley Stark.
We arrived at the home site and visited the small cemetery behind the house
called the William H. Stark Cemetery. It was located in a grove of pine trees
lining the Sabine River about 100 yards from the back of the house. It was
fenced and well maintained. After entering the gate and passing the grave sites
of family members, we came upon a small wood marker at the back of the cemetery
which declared this was the grave of a "Yankee Soldier" and another
marker indicating the burial of someone unknown.
believe we have found the grave site of David Chapin and hope someday we will be
able to contact his father's descendants to let them know the "letter was
delivered." The Sons of Confederate Veterans placed a proper marker on the
site December 2, 2002 and his grave will be "carefully kept" as
requested by his father, George A. Chapin.
December 2, 2002
Reading Poem at David Chapin Dedication Ceremony
Yankee Soldier Without A Name
By Ruby Ray Boyett Burkett
Read December 2, 2002 at David Chapin Memorial Ceremony
One hundred and thirty-nine years he has lain here
In a lonely, unmarked grave.
In the family cemetery of William Hawley Stark,
A casualty of a cruel war between the Northern and Southern states
Many have wondered who he was, not knowing from
Whence he came.
But parents somewhere knew they had lost a son
They would never see again.
There was no Mother here to weep o’er his grave
As they laid him in the ground.
No Father to mourn the loss of his son,
He had hoped to carry his name.
But our caring patriarch, William Hawley Stark,
Provided a burial site,
Where they buried the lad on a cold winter day
Beneath the towering pines.
Here he has waited, so many long years,
And here he’ll continue to lie.
But after today, there will be a change,
And you will soon understand why.
Though buried in Texas --- far, far from home,
There are people here who still care;
Who have diligently worked to bring this
Dedication to pass -------- so,
To them, we give our applause!
Yes, the Yankee soldier will always lie here,
Where the Sabine River still flow’s by;
Where the pine threes he once, he once said, he loved to hear roar;
Now whisper their lullabies.
Though he can boast of no fame, today there’s a change, that none can disclaim.
Forget about fame ---- the important thing is ---
The Yankee soldier now has a name!
The Name is David Chapin and the name David is special ---
It simply means --- Beloved
Sunday, December 1, 2002, 2:00 PM, Newton County, Texas
William Hawley Stark Cemetery
By Pauline Stark Moore and presented at the Dedication Ceremony
This event is about a letter that was lost……a letter from one father to another, and about an unknown soldier of the Union Army during the Civil War….May he rest in peace.
David Chapin was born May 2, 1843 in Boston, Suffolk County, Massachusetts. He was the son of George Austin Chapin and Rachael Binney
Seaverns. On September 16, 1862 he was mustered in Company I of the 42nd Infantry Regiment of Massachusetts. At the age of 19 years and 5 months he was a
soldier in the Union Army. As in a lot of other conflicts, the training was swift or none, and the deployment was certain. On December 25, 1862 a part of his regiment consisting of 264 men from companies D, G, and I under the command of Colonel Isaac S. Burrell arrived in Galveston, Texas. They were garrisoned at Kuhns
Wharf. This Unit was sent to patrol and secure this island town that was captured by Union forces in October of 1862.
This was to be David Chapin’s last Christmas, for he was to battle forces much more deadly than the Confederates. The enemy that this young man faced and fell prey to was the same one that killed a lot of soldiers, both Union and Confederate. Disease and pestilence took its toll on both North and
South alike. It was the same enemy that took the life of Samuel Hawley Stark, the son of William Hawley Stark. Samuel Hawley Stark left a wife and three little children. He was a soldier in the Confederate Army. His commanding officer was John Thomas Stark, the great great grandfather of Dr. Jeremiah M. Stark.
David was captured along with several hundred other Union soldiers and sailors in the attack on the fleet and command post a Galveston. This was January 1, 1863. At 3:00 AM on New Years day, General John B. Magruder, commander of all the Confederate forces in Texas sent a force consisting of four
small cotton clad gunboats and two infantry battalions to retake Galveston Island. They did heavy damage to the fleet in Galveston Bay and either killed or captured all of the Union Force on the Island. David Chapin was among the prisoners. If he hadn’t died, he would have been paroled at Alexandria, Louisiana on
February 18, 1863. These troops rejoined their Regiment at New Orleans on February 22, 1863.
The Union Naval Forces maintained the blockade on the Texas Coast. Galveston Island remained in the hands of the Confederacy for the remainder of the Civil War even it made it much harder to get supplies and food to the Southern troops. In order to get the prisoners to Louisiana, they were brought as
far as Beaumont, Texas by the Texas & New Orleans Railroad, construction of which had been halted by the Civil War. It would not be finished until after the conflict was over. This explains why David Chapin was on the Steamer Roebuck when he died. He was at Stark’s Landing in Newton County because there
was a major road that went through the area and into Louisiana.
I am sure that there must have been other prisoners who died of the same disease. There is no telling how many unknown “Yankee Soldiers” who were buried along that journey. David was buried here among the pine trees in the family cemetery. Probably William Hawley Stark knew who he was, but the
sands of time eventually covered the facts and his name. When our Stark family Association went over in 1980, Mr. Bill Inman told us the story about the unknown sailor…. Of course with the records we know that he was a soldier. We might never have known the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say, if Dr. Jeremiah
Stark’s Aunt Lilly had not kept the letter.
You have to understand that there are two different Stark Families in this area. They were both pioneers to the old Jasper County, Newton County area. Dr. Stark’s family is from the James Stark family of Stafford County, Virginia line. Our Stark family is descended from Aaron Stark, who was born in
Scotland in 1608 and came to America about 75 years before the James Stark line. There were two William H. Starks. One in Orange County, Texas and one in Newton County. This is why it took so long to get the mail through. Mr. George Austin Chapin had contact with a friend of David’s who told him where his son was
buried. He even drew a pencil sketch of his grave. This gave Mr. Chapin a lot of comfort, but he wanted more. Mr. Chapin wanted to buy the land where his son was buried and have a fence put around the gravesite. William Hawley Stark never got the letter, but some of his descendants did, and that is why we are here
It seems that in every generation there are young men who are called upon to stand in the gap and defend their country. I suppose that it has always been so, but it doesn’t make it any easier for loved ones and families to understand. We were on vacation last summer and we visited the battlefields
at Yorktown, Virginia. We went through the gate in a little stone wall into a cemetery. It was soon apparent that this was a Civil War Cemetery. It seems like the big majority of graves were UNKNOWN AMERICAN SOLDIERS. My little four year old great granddaughter ask me, “Granny, what are these stones?.” I explained
to her that these were where they buried the soldiers that had fought in the war. She shook her head, and sighed. “Look at all of these Daddy’s, Granny. Who were they?” Her Daddy was stationed on the Coast Guard Cutter Forward and was leaving on Friday for duty at sea. She understood all too well what it
means to know concern for a loved one away from home.
It was so amazing the way all of the pieces to this puzzle came together. The picture that Floyd Boyett found in the antique shop was a picture of John Thomas Stark. He was the Commanding Officer of Samuel Hawley Stark, son of William Hawley Stark, and Great great grandfather of Dr.Jermiah M. Stark
who had a copy of the letter. Theorigianl is in the Stark Museum in Orange, Texas. Samuel Hawley Stark died in a Little Rock Hospital of disease and is buried in an unmarked grave at Camp Nelson Cemetery where over 600 soldiers who died of Typhoid fever are buried. William Hawley also lost his son, James Terry Stark,
in this war. The price that was paid was a dear and precious one on both sides of the conflict.
Clovis LaFleur sent me the story that Floyd wrote as an aside to some other material that we were working on. I knew immediately that this had to be the same unmarked grave. It is amazing how the technology and the internet have expanded our means to research our family history. We have access to so
much in such a short time and share it with so many others. I would like to encourage all of you to go on the website that Clovis has created for the family and read the complete story. It is quite moving.
We can thank so many people who have helped to put all of this together. I started trying to list all of you but I was afraid I would miss some. Please know how much all of your efforts are appreciated. I feel like we have delivered the mail, and kept a promise to two grieving fathers. One who lost
one son, and the other who lost two. God Bless them all. WE WILL REMEMBER YOU ALL….
Pauline Stark Moore,
December 1, 2002
THE MESSAGE OF THE PINE
Among the members of the 42d Massachusetts Regiment, Company G, who were recently taken Prisoners in Texas after there (SIC) Gallant conduct at Galveston, was DAVID, age 19, youngest son of GEORGE A, and R. B. CHAPIN, of this city, in the tedious journey made by the prisoners on the
way to be released. DAVID died of fever FEB. 2nd 1863, and his remains were buried on the Banks of the Sabine, in a Grove Of Pine. A letter, containing the intelligence, with a sprig of the Pine Tree over his grave, was the mode in which the news was conveyed to his
Author's Comments: The author of this poem is not known with certainty. Colleen Holland of Hampton, Virginia, the gracious contributor of the poem, obtained it from an estate sale in Boston Massachusetts. In her correspondence dated August of 2003, she wrote; “the poem was found inside a dairy
with the explanation (see above) on the outside and the poem on the inside….I don't know if there is any author listed on the poem. I will check it out more thoroughly when I receive it. I have seen pictures of it and the letter sheet appears to be appropriate for the Civil War era…..I just got an answer from the
seller today and she says the poem was found in the diary of someone named Royce ( I don't know if that is a first or last name). It was supposedly written to David Chapin’s mother….I did a little
more online searching.
There is a Chas. S. Royce listed along with David Chapin in a roster. Therefore, it’s possible the author could have been Charles S. Royce, but as already mentioned, this is not known with certainty.
Remains of William Hawley Stark Home
This is all that remains of the home William Hawley Stark shared with his second wife, Martha C. Whitman. In the background to the left of the home is a grove of pine trees which overlook the family cemetery of William Hawley Stark. The Sabine River flows just beyond the pine trees. Stones in the cemetery can be
seen under the pines where David Chapin and many members of William’s family were buried.
Go, Little Sprig Of Southern Pine
Bear To A Mother's Heart A Sign
Go With Thy Fragrant Breath And Tell
Of Him, The Boy She Loveth Well.
'Twas Not In Battle Hour
He Passed Away - Her Cherished Flower.
Yet Valiant Had He Been And True,
In All The Soldier Had To Do.
A Prisoner, Still The Noble Youth
Showed Power To Bear, And Heart Of Truth.
But Fever Touched His Bounding Veins,
Here On These Hostile Texan Plains.
He Thought Of Home - Seemed To Rejoice,
Dreaming He Heard His Mothers Voice.
But Death Came With A Loving Hand,
To Lead Him To The Better Land,
At Early Dawn We Scooped His Grave
Beside The Sabine’s Sluggish Wave.
Not There, O Mother, See Him Now,
No Earth Lies On His Radiant Brow!
Above His Mortal Dust The Pine
Makes Music While The Moonbeams Shine.
But He, Redeemed By Heavenly Love,
Looks On You Wistful From Above.
He Knows The Parting Is Not Long
That Keeps You From The Heavenly Song.
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