Pvt. Edwin Albert Ruthven Rackliff

Co. E -13th Regiment Maine Infantry Volunteers

This will only be a brief glimpse into the life of a grandfather I never knew. Edwin Albert Ruthven Rackliff, born to Benjamin R. and Rachel Oliver Rackliff on August 17, 1841 in Industry, Maine, was one of fourteen children in that family. I will assume he spent the first twenty years of his life helping with the work necessitated by living in a household of that size in the 1840s and 50s. His father, a farmer and carpenter, would have needed the help of the eight sons during their stay within the family. The six daughters would be expected to help with their mother’s work. In the book that is documented in the next paragraph, his mother is quoted as saying that she never saw all fourteen of her children together at one time even though they all lived to maturity and beyond.

A valuable source of information preserved by my grandmother Rackliff is a book, History of the Town of Industry, written by William Collens Hatch, copyright 1893. It includes the history and genealogy of many of the leading families of the town of Industry, from the earliest settlement in 1787 to 1893. From that source, the enlistment of my grandfather, Edwin A. R. Rackliff, is documented. After enlisting, he would have to remain at home until sufficient numbers of men were secured for the Company. On the 10th of December 1861, he was mustered into the U.S. service at Augusta, Maine at the age of 20. The following paragraph is copied from the abovementioned book – pages 365 and 366.

— After some weeks spent in drill and the usual camp duties, the regiment left the state capital on February 18, 1862, to assume its part in the great civil conflict, and arrived in Boston the same day. While in this city the regiment was quartered in Faneuil Hall. On the 20th a detachment including Mr. Rackliff’s Company, under the command of Colonel Dow, embarked on board the new iron steamer ”Mississippi” bound for Ship Island, Mississippi. They touched at Fortress Monroe on the 24th to take on board General Butler, and put to sea on the following day. The steamer encountered a tremendous gale off Cape Hatteras, which placed it in great peril for a few hours. In consequence of damages sustained by grounding on Frying Pan Shoals the Mississippi put into Port Royal, South Carolina, March 2nd, and the detachment went into camp. They sailed for Ship Island on the 12th and arrived there on the 20th. July 11th Mr. Rackliff’s Company left the Island, under the command of Colonel Dow, and after a brief stay at New Orleans moved down the river and occupied Fort St. Philip on the 15th. Remaining in the vicinity of New Orleans until October 24, 1863, the regiment was ordered to Texas, forming a portion of General Bank’s expedition. Here they participated in the capture of Port Isabella, Mustang Island and Fort Esperanza. Remaining in that locality until February 18, 1864, the regiment was ordered back to Louisiana, and took a part in the Red River campaign. The regiment subsequently joined General Bank’s forces and bore an honorable part in the Battle of Pleasant Hill. Mr. Rackliff and his comrades were in active service at various places until December, when he, with others whose term of enlistment had expired, started for Maine, arriving at Augusta on the 30th of that month. Here they were mustered out of the service January 6, 1865, paid off and finally discharged. He now resides in Kansas City, Missouri.

It was never explained why my grandfather migrated to Missouri. Did he travel to Algona, Iowa to visit a sister, Harriet Ann who had married Charles Manter and then traveled south to seek his fortune? A brother, Eli, lived in Kansas City a few years. Grandmother Alice was convinced she was the reason for his move there as fate brought them together and resulted in their marriage on December 31, 1879. They enjoyed thirty- one happy years together before his death from liver cancer on May 11, 1910.

While living in Kansas City, grandfather worked at the Barnes Greenhouse. He had ridden horseback from there to Lexington to sign up for his Civil War pension. Grandmother continued to receive a monthly survivor’s payment after his death. They had moved to Excelsior Springs, Missouri before his death.

The memories my mother had of her father were of his kind and gentle manner combined with a wonderful sense of humor. Although the family failed to record the number, he recounted the number of battles and skirmishes his company was engaged in, but he was spared injury, not even a scratch.

There may be stories that could be added to Grandfather Rackliff’s civil war service with some dedicated research. After spending three full years in service of his country, he is considered a hero to this granddaughter. Writing this has inspired me to delve into a search for more recorded information on Company E. 13th Maine Regiment, Voluntary Army, Colonel Dow.