John Wood Leavitt was sixteen years and six months old when he left the family farm in East Winthrop, Maine , and took the 10-mile trek to Augusta. He had just enlisted, on the 20th of November 1863, as a "20"-year old, enrolled by "A.S." (Arnold Sweet) Richmond, a fellow townsman and acting deputy provost marshal. As a private in the Seventh Maine Battery (of Light Artillery), he was mustered into service for three years, on 30 Dec. 1863.
Through the month of January, 1864, while other volunteers continued to arrive, the men were formed into detachments and drilled on a daily basis at Camp Coburn in Augusta. At the end of the month, John Leavitt received a state bounty of $100, as well as a U.S. bounty of $60 and $13 monthly advance pay. The unit left the capital on the morning of 1 Feb. and headed south.
Transported via rail and steamer, the 7th Battery arrived in Washington, DC on the morning of 5 February 1864, and settled into Camp Barry, the Artillery Camp of Instruction. Having already left a few men behind in Augusta due to sickness, the camp life and change of climate continued to take its toll.
A letter, written by someone stationed at Camp Barry and published in the Oxford Democrat on 8 April 1864, pg 2, mentioned the 7th Battery:
"It came here with 143 men...[ ]. There has been much sickness in this company since its arrival. Four have died..."
John W Leavitt was one of those four men, succumbing to double pneumonia on the 16th of March, 1864. He was two months shy of his seventeenth birthday.
His body was returned home, where he was buried in the East Winthrop Cemetery, beside his sister Mary, who had died in 1860, at age 14.
Photos taken 21 Sept 2019 (by S. Dow)
Descendants of John Leavitt Through His Son, Israel and Lydia Jackson (pg 77)
History of the Seventh Maine Light Artillery (archive.org)
Seventh Maine Battery Descriptive Roll (pg 63); Monthly Return (pg 195); Muster In Roll (pg 108 pay, pg 109); Muster Out Roll (pg 130)
Maine, Civil War Enlistment Papers: John W Leavitt (Declaration of recruit) - being under 21 years of age, a parent or guardian needed to sign a consent form. As seen below, John's father Hiram H. Leavitt signed off on his son being 20 years old.
stones and stories
More than just names and dates engraved on a grave stone, a look into the Leavitt families found in our cemetery photographs.