Lost History of the Eighteenth Massachusetts


We have been lucky in our many finds. If you think about it - information, letters, diaries, newspapers, equipment and records have survived for almost 140 years for us to stumble across. Yet there are a few things that we know exist, have had on the tips of our fingers and then just disappeared from our reach. Although it is always sad to lose a bit of history, we often ask ourselves, would there have been an amazing discovery that could have changed the course of our investigation if we had gotten to view it? Hopefully we will eventually find them again, until then they will be memorialized on this page. 

Sgt. Edmund F Churchill Lot 

This is a very personal one, striking deep into our hearts. As the story goes, Edmund P Churchill died of brain cancer at a very young age. Edmund was a family man who had received his masters degree at Harvard. Some of the research he did as a student would lay the foundation for the creation of the microchip. After graduation he became a teacher, founding a school for boys at one point. 

During his sickness his family spent most of their money on quacks who promised cures but delivered none. After his death, his wife who was also a teacher, was left with raising her children with a  limited means to support them. While struggling just to get by, they fell behind on many bills, including a storage facility back in Massachusetts - which would auction the items in the Churchill area. Among the items was a vast Civil War collection of letters, pictures, diaries, uniform pieces and souvenirs from the three years Edmund F was in the 18th.  The auction was the last the family heard of the lot until 2005.

In 2005 I received an email stating that someone had found it and was willing to sell it. Before I could respond, it had been bought. I was then offered to buy it by the new owner for $30,000 - $30,000 for something that should belong to you anyways. Unfortunately the new owner would not allow us to look at the letters and diaries as he felt it would decrease the value of the collection. The owner did allow us first shot to buy pieces of lot as he sold it piece by piece. Luckily I was able to get a small piece and a copy of a photo of Edmund. 

Benjamin De Costa information - lost in the NY Public Library 
More information to come soon

Update: De Costa information located We were fortunate enough to finally locate Chaplain Benjamin De Costa's missing journal and add this information to our research on the 18th Massachusetts Infantry.

Brigadier General Joseph Hayes Plaque - a bronze plaque, no one knows why it existed or where it went

    This was one of the great unsolved mysteries that our group had come across. Over the years we have heard rumors of certain items and have been able to track them down or we would come across an item dealing with a member of the 18th and have no idea how it came into being, only later to discover the true origin.  On this item we had never heard about it until it appeared on EBAY one day and still know nothing about its origin. The seller could not provide any historical information and refused to tell us where he got it from or who he sold it to.

Description from EBAY:

This is a SOLID BRONZE plaque, by GORHAM, of Brigadier General Joseph Hayes. The plaque is QUITE heavy (probably around 50-75 pounds) and measures 23 1/4" high and 15" wide and appx. 2" deep. There are 4 large bolts coming out of the back for mounting. On the bottom it is signed THE GORHAM CO. FOUNDERS. I will try my best to read to you the inscription on the front. I believe it says "JOSEPH HAYES BRIGADIER G. MAY GENERAL W.S.VOLS COMDG 1ST BRIGADE (REGULARS) & 5TH ARMY CORPS. NY MAY 29/06". The piece is on the dirty side, but...NO cracks...NO breaks... NO repairs.

Update: The mystery of the Hayes plaque solved

Thanks to historian Wiliam B. Styple, who edited the book "Generals in Bronze; Interviewing the Commanders of the Civil War," we learned that artist William E. Kelly was commissioned to create a series of bronze reliefs of Generals who served in the Civil War. Kelly conducted extensive interviews with each of his subjects and those interviews with such illuminaries as Hayes, Phillip Sheridan, William Tecumseh Sherman, Ulysses Simpson Grant, Gouverneur K. Warren, Daniel Sickles, and Joshua Chamberlain, among others, make for fascinating reading as each brings their own unique perspective to their role during four years of conflict that raged across the American landscape.