SANBORN, AUSTIN L. Private 17th US Infantry

Austin L. Sanborn enlisted 20 May 1862 as a Private in Company A, 17th US Infantry to serve three years.  He was engaged the Battle of Chancellorsville 1 May 1863, Battle of Gettysburg 1 & 2 Jul 1863 during which he was severly wounded in the right shoulder.

(photo: wounded New York soldiers at Battle of Chancellorsville)

 Born 3 Feb 1837 in Epsom, and appears in the 1860 census as residing in Newmarket living with the Furbers (owner of the Furber Hotel), with an occupation as a tailor.  He died in Concord N.H. 11 Jan 1873 of pneumonia. He was buried in McClary Cemetery, Epsom; however, there is no burial marker for him in the cemetery. There is a record of a military stone made for him for the Center cemetery in Epsom.  His name in listed on the Newmarket G.A.R> Memorial.

Due to his injury at the  Battle of Gettysbury in July 1863 , he filed for a military pension on 6 Jan 1866 as being an invalid due to  military wounds, his application indicates he was assigned  Company B, 1st Battalion, 17th US Infantry.    Austin also appears in the Epsom G.A.R Records, Post 66 — as having enlisted at Concord May 20, 1862. Born in Epsom February 03, 1837, brother of Joel L. (Libby) Sanborn, (U.S. Kearsarge) sons of Benvolio Sanborn b: 10 Jul 1797 in Epsom, NH and Ann Lane b: 28 Sep 1799.

 (photo: Confederate dead at the Wheatfield, Gettysburg)

During the Battle of Gettysburg –1863  “July 2 , his company arrived in the morning and took position with the Brigade on the right of the Twelfth Corps.  Later they moved to the left and at 5 p.m. formed line with the Brigade at the right of Little Round Top and advanced across Plum Run to the crest of the rocky wooded hill beyond near the Wheatfield.

They remained under a severe fire from the Confederate sharpshooters on the left then facing the edge of the woods.  The Confederates having opened fire on the right flank and advanced in the Wheatfield.  In the rear the Brigade was withdrawn under a heavy fire on both flanks and reformed in line on the right of Little Round Top having been engaged about two hours active shelling.

17th US Infantry

At the start of the Civil War, the United States Army had only 16,000 men, most of whom were stationed west of the Mississippi River. The Lincoln Administration recognized the need to increase the size of the army, and did so by adding 23,000 soldiers in 8 new infantry regiments, one artillery regiment, and one cavalry regiment.  For the new 17th U.S. Infantry, headquarters would be at Fort Preble, in Portland. The regiment’s ranks were filled with recruits from the Eastern states, with many from Maine.  The new recruits, along with the regiments raised by the state, had to be mustered into United States’ service by an officer in the Regular Army.  As the war progressed, the 17th Infantry Regiment moved  from Portland Maine to the Army of the Potomac, in Sykes’ Division of the 5th Army Corps, the badge of which was a white cross patee, which is embodied in the coat of arms and shown on the blue field above and to the left of the stone wall.  At Fredericksburg. the 17th suffered heavy losses in the assault on the famous stone wall, “For one entire day, (December 14) the men of the 17th lay flat on their faces eighty yards in front of the famous stone wall, behind which the enemy was posted in large numbers and any movement on their part was sure to draw the fire of rebel sharpshooters.

Battle  of Portland Harbor

(Photo: Fort Preble, Portland Maine)

The Battle of Portland Harbor  was a naval battle  fought in June 1863, in the waters off Portland, Maine.  Two US Navy warships engaged two vessels under Confederate States Navy employment.  On June 26, a Confederfate raiding party, led by Captain Charles Read,  entered the harbor at Portland, sailing past Portland Head Light.   Two days prior to this, a Confederate raider named the Tacony was being pursued by the Union Navy at sea. To thwart the pursuers, the Confederates captured Archer, a Main fishing schooner out of Southport. After transferring their supplies and cargo onto Archer, the Confederates set fire to Tacony hoping the Union Navy would believe the ship was destroyed. The rebels entered into Portland Harbor late in the evening under the guise of fishermen. Their plan was to slip back out of the harbor and try to destroy the commercial shipping capability of the area.  Their plot was foiled by a group of angry Maine fisherman.  They were imprisoned at Fort Preble.   

It was discovered that the Confederates were in possession of over $100,000 in bonds. These were to be paid after a treaty for peace was ratified between the North and the South.

Public anger against the Southerners was high, and additional troops to safeguard the prisoners were requested. They had to be spirited out of Portland during the night to prevent a riot from breaking in July, when they were removed to Boston Harbor, where they were then held at Fort Warren.