Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BARTLETT, William Francis, soldier, born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, 6 January 1840; died in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 17 December 1876. Mr. Bartlett was a student at Harvard when the first, call of the president came for troops in 1861. He at once left College, enlisted in the 4th battalion of Massachusetts volunteers, and learned his manual of arms and company drill in Fort Independence, Boston harbor. Returning to College for a brief period, he was offered a captaincy in the 20th Massachusetts volunteers. In September the regiment was in camp in front of Washington, and on 21 October the young captain was for the first time under fire at Ball's Bluff. His aptitude for military service was so evident that he was soon an acting field officer. In the spring of 1862 he was severely wounded at Yorktown, and suffered amputation of his leg. He recovered sufficiently to be present with his class when it graduated, and received a degree In September 1862, he accepted the duty of organizing the 49th Massachusetts volunteers recruiting at Pittsfield, and was soon made its colonel in spite of his physical disability. The regiment was ordered to Louisiana with "General Banks's expedition. Colonel Bartlett was obliged, owing to the loss of his leg, to remain mounted whenever his regiment needed his presence, and exposed himself on all occasions with the most reckless daring. It is even said that the confederate officers, in admiration of his bravery, endeavored to prevent their men from aiming at him. He was, nevertheless, twice wounded in the assault on Port Hudson, 27 May. Returning to the north, he organized the 57th Massachusetts volunteers in time to lead it in the Wilderness campaign, where he was again wounded. He was promoted Brigadier-General, and was in the field again as soon as he could sit his horse, but, exposing himself with his usual recklessness, was taken prisoner after the explosion of the mine before Petersburg, 30 July 1864. After several weeks of suffering in Libby prison and elsewhere, he was exchanged in September placed in command of the 1st division of the 9th corps, and in 1865 was brevetted Major-General. His military career is among the most brilliant on record. His frequent wounds testified to his bravery, and the success with which he managed his men so long as he remained unhurt marked him as a born leader. After the war he engaged for a time in business with the Tredegar Iron Works at Richmond, Virginia, but eventually returned to the north, and married a lady whose acquaintance he had formed while recruiting his regiment at Pittsfield, Massachusetts. In that city he engaged in business, and made his residence. In 1875 he won a sudden and deserved reputation as an orator by an address delivered at the battle-field of Lexington, on the centennial anniversary of the fight. See "Memoir of William Francis Bartlett," by F. W. Palfrey (Boston, 1878).
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