Amos E. Stearns memoir  1864-1865
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Stearns, Amos Edward, 1833-1912

Rank : Private

Regiment : 25th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. Co. A (1861-1865)

Service : 1861 September 11-1865 March 25

Amos Edward Stearns was born in Taunton, Mass., on January 9, 1833, the fourth of nine children born to Amos and Chloe (Cleaveland) Stearns. Stearns received a basic common school education and was trained and employed as a machinist, but at the outset of the war, he was driven by a succession personal tragedies to enlist in the army. His first child, Mary, died in 1860, and was followed in death in July, 1861, by his wife, Mary C. Keen, whom he had married in 1855, and one month later, by their second child, Nellie, who died of cholera. Grief-stricken and unemployed, Stearns volunteered as a private in the 25th Massachusetts on September 11, 1861.

Shortly after enlistment and mustering in, the 25th Massachusetts Infantry was attached to Burnside's Coastal Expedition and sent to North Carolina, where they remained stationed at New Bern for over a year and a half, participating in the succession of battles in December, 1862, that included Goldsboro, Whitehall and Kinston, and in the defence of New Bern itself during the spring of 1863. In October, 1863, the regiment was ordered to Newport News, Va., where those who declined to reenlist -- including Stearns -- were temporarily assigned to duty with the 139th New York Infantry. Having already withstood some sporadic moments of hard campaigning in North Carolina, the 25th Massachusetts were ordered into the thick of the fray on the southern approaches to Richmond, just in time for the bitter spring campaigns of 1864.

At Drury's (or Drewry's) Bluff, on May 16, 1864, Stearns was taken prisoner while helping a wounded comrade to the rear of a fog-covered battlefield. Processed as a prisoner of war at Libby Prison in Richmond, Stearns was soon sent southward to the notorious Andersonville Prison Camp and later to the less well-known, but equally harsh camps at Charleston and Florence, S.C. As Sherman's forces threatened from Savannah, Stearns was ordered back and forth between Wilmington and Goldsboro, finally gaining parole on February 27th and formal exchange on March 9. Particularly at Andersonville and Charleston, exposure, hunger, disease, and brutality had been every day features of life, but roughly two weeks after his exchange, he was mustered out of the service, arriving home at Worcester on March 25.

Following the war, Stearns found work as a machinist in Worcester, and in 1866, married Lydia Maria Fisher. The couple adopted a son, Walter, in 1873. Stearns was active in veterans organizations, including the Grand Army of the Republic, until his death on May 28, 1912.