Octavius Leland diaries  1863-1865
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Biography

Leland, Octavius

Rank : Musc.

Regiment : 10th Minnesota Infantry Regiment. Co. C. (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August 15-1865 August 12

Octavius Leland was born July 1, 1822, in Cavendish, Vermont, the son of Otis Leland and Nancy Spaulding. In 1845, he married schoolteacher Adeline P. Burnham (1822-1853) of Johnson, Vermont. They had two sons, George (1849-1931) and Fred (1851-1852), before Adeline died in 1853 at the age of 30. In 1854, Leland married Martha Hayden, and they moved to Racine, Wisconsin, in 1855, followed by a short stint on a farm Illinois in 1858-1859. Octavius and Martha had two children: Willard (b. 1857) and Flora (b. 1859).

In April 1860, the family settled on a farm in Elgin, Minnesota. Against the wishes of his wife, and at the age of 40, Leland enlisted for three years in Company C of the 10th Minnesota Infantry on August 15, 1862. In addition to his regular duties, he played the fife in the regimental band. On March 27, 1863, his wife died of an illness while he was stationed at Fort Snelling. After a brief furlough, he headed south with his regiment to Benson Barracks in St. Louis, Missouri, in October 1863, leaving his three children at home. In St. Louis, his band played at various political and military functions, and Leland had enough time on his hands to carve rings out of bone to sell as souvenirs.

Beginning in May 1864, the 10th Minnesota was sent to a series of camps in Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama. Leland took part in some minor engagements with guerillas, as well as in the Battle of Nashville, the siege of Spanish Fort, and the capture and ransacking of Fort Blakely. Although Leland was plagued by near-constant illness, his repeated requests for a discharge were denied. He died of the effects of chronic diarrhea on August 12, 1865, six days before he was to be mustered out.