April 26, 1861, was the earliest legal date the Town of Medway could call a Town Meeting after the attack on Fort Sumner, and the call to arms of 75,000 men for three months by President Lincoln. On that date, a committee of twelve were appointed to recommend emergency measures that should be taken by Medway to support the war effort.
They put forward fourteen resolutions that formed and funded a militia company. They defined what actions the State and Nation had taken. They also recommended that a Military Commission of nine be selected to guide the town through its war efforts. That commission was formed of men from a generation that had never been engaged in a war, nor had ever planned for one. The wisdom and compassion from that committee were remarkable. They anticipated contingencies and planned for aid to families and soldiers that were unimaginable at that time.
Medway supplied 387 men to fight the war, more than her legal obligation. At least 11% of those men were immediate family members. It is a certainty that many more were cousins. Those strong bonds created a great deal of support from the community for these men. Their ages ranged from fifteen to fifty-five, the average being twenty-five years and three months. Volunteerism was strong in Medway, as over 10% of Medway servicemen were also volunteer firefighters. Surprisingly, over 8% were born in Ireland.
Medway men were fortunately dispersed throughout Massachusetts military organizations, as they served in 58% of them. No one major battle depleted the town of its able-bodied men. Clearly defined are the 2% killed in action, 2% that died of wounds, the 10% that died of disease, the 13% that were wounded, and the 24% that received disability discharges. There is also a detailed Biographical Roster of all those that served.
The Commonwealth raised two black infantry regiments and one black cavalry regiment. Medway supplied black men to serve in those two infantry regiments. Medway also provided six white officers to serve in National black regiments.
On the home front, the women of Medway would also exceed expectations. They worked with the Auxiliary Association of the United States Sanitary Commission, through which they provided much needed supplies for the comfort and survival of the Medway soldiers in the field. Their compassionate offerings were not limited to Medway men, as they assisted any one they were able to.
The sacrifices and frugality of Medway’s citizens to support soldiers in the war front should never be forgotten. The privation of her men in the theater of war should always be revered. Medway holds a position of honor because of her actions to preserve this Nation. This book clearly defines that history.