Tuesday, August 05, 2014


I was contacted last week by a cousin about our mutual ancestor Lydia (Phelps)
Read West. While answering a question I was reminded of something I'd
discovered seven years ago when I first began this blog involving the Civil
War. I decided it was a better topic for the Civil War Challenge than the one
I'd originally intended, so I decided to write about it instead. And here we are.

My 5x great grandmother Lydia Phelps had married her first husband Sampson
Read on 18Mar 1773 in Westford, Ma. He joined the Continental Army in 1776
and died in 1777 at age 23. I haven't as yet been able to find out if he was killed
in battle or died of natural causes. He and Lydia had three children; a son, Sampson
Read, Jr. and two daughters, Lydia and Amy. Sometime between 1777 and 1779,
Lydia met and married my 5x great grandfather John Ames m a Revolutionary
War veteran and blacksmith. There would be seven Ames children, and the family
settled around Hartford, Oxford County, Me.

John Ames taught his step-son Sampson the blacksmith trade. Eventually the young
man  married Jane Ellis. (she maybe a cousin through my Ellis line which I'll
have to research.) They  had a large family of ten children, one of whom was Sampson
Read III. He in turn married Huldah Bisbee and had eight children. One of these
was Axel Hayford Reed. The youngest of the seven surviving children, he apparently
was not happy farming and when he reached adulthood he moved West, eventually
ending up in Glencoe, Minnesota where he was living when the Civil War broke out.

He enlisted in  the Second Regiment of the Minnesota and became Sergeant of Company
K. Then in 1863 Axel got himself into trouble. In September of 1863  Axel's regiment
was part of Union General George Thomas' in the campaign along the Tennessee-Georgia
border. On 19Sep 1863 Axel Reed was under arrest at the reat of the lines when the
Battle of Chickamauga broke out. It seems he had written a letter to a newspaper that
had been critical of the food shortage of the army and was confined for it. When the
battle broke out, he either escaped or persuaded his guards to let him return to Company
K to fight with his men. The Second Minnesota helped stop a Confederate advance and
charges were dropped against Axel for his conduct on the field during the fighting.

Two months later Axel Reed was part of  the Union advance up Missionary Ridge in
Tennessee on 25Nov 1863. During that he was wounded which caused his right arm to
be amputated. Despite losing his arm he stayed on with the 2nd Regiment and by the time
he was mustered out in July of 1865 he had risen to the rank of First Lieutenant.

After the war he returned home, raised a family, started a bank and farmed. A diary
he kept during the war is cited in several history books. He died in Glencoe, Minnesota
on 21January 1917.

For his actions at Chickamauga and at Missionary Ridge, my 2nd cousin 4x removed
Axel Hayford Reed was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. You can read the
official citation at the U.S. Army Center of Military History website, and more details
of the two battles where Axel distinguished himself at the website for the NationalMedal of Honor Museum of Military History, which includes his photograph. 

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