The War Between the States

April 12, 1861. Fort Sumpter was fired upon – the War Between the States began.

Candia Soldiers

May 14, 1861. “My son, John Lane Fitts, enlisted in a Rifle Company at Concord for the term of three years.” (John Fitts diary)

  • J. Lane Fitts was 27 years old when he left Candia to serve in the war. He was taken prisoner at the first Battle of Bull Run and spent the next ten months in Libby, Salisbury and Parish prisons. A manuscript that he wrote several years later describes that difficult time. Finally paroled, he returned to Candia for a short visit and then rejoined his regiment to complete his three years of service. Another manuscript tells the story of the battle at Gettysburg as he experienced it. Settling down after the war to peaceful life in Candia, he was a teacher, surveyor and justice of the peace, also serving on the school board and as a selectman. He established the Fitts Museum with his brother and sister-in–law, and he was the first president of the Smyth Public Library Association, which was organized in 1888, and held that office until his death twenty-four years later.
  • Richard Emerson, son of John and Clarissa Emerson, “went to Richmond, Virginia, and during the Civil War had charge of the best military band in the Confederate service. To the Candia boys in “Libby” (prison) came supplies from some mysterious source; supposed to be from Richard Emerson. Soon after the close of the war, he is reported to have left Richmond, but all trace of him thereafter is lost.”

 The Smuggled Flag

Folded away in a drawer at the Fitts Museum is a very large, worn flag that once flew from the mast of the “William C. Clark”. The brig was owned by Captain Benjamin R. Redman, a successful ship captain, who made some of the fastest voyagers on record at the time. One of these was crossing the Atlantic in a sailing vessel in only eleven days (we do not know if the ship was the Clark). During the Civil War, Redman had the misfortune to cross paths with the Confederate cruiser, “CSS Florida”. The “Clark” was captured and burned. The family record tells us that Captain Redman was allowed to save only his barometer and a bagful of personal belongings, but that he managed to smuggle the flag off the ship, as he did not wish it to be burned. He and his crew were landed in Bermuda and later exchanged.

  Captain Redman's barometer


The Medal of Honor

Two of Candia’s young soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor for their gallantry in action:

  • Sgt. Henry Walker Rowe received the medal for his actions with the 11th New Hampshire at Petersburg, Florida on June 17th 1864 when, “…with four companions he rushed and disarmed 27 enemy pickets, capturing a stand of flags. In July, he was severely wounded at the Battle of the Mine. After the war, Rowe opened a printing business in Boston.”
  • Lieut. George Frank Robie (1844-1891) served in the 7th Regiment. He was cited for his gallantry on the skirmish line while on a reconnaissance mission near Richmond, the Confederate capital. He contracted “rheumatism” while serving in Virginia – probably polymyalgia rheumatic, a particularly virulent form of arthritis, which could have resulted from sleeping on cold, wet ground, and he was mustered out of the army. In 1869, Robie went to Galveston where he worked as a bookkeeper in a railroad office. Eventually his condition forced him to stop working entirely. He managed to visit friends and relatives in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in 1883, and a woman who was probably his aunt, called him “a used-up man”. He returned to Galveston where he died in 1891 and was buried in the New City Cemetery there.

We would never have known his story if Daniel Lisarelli, a young Civil War scholar, had not come across Robie’s poorly marked grave, researched his war record and arranged to have his Medal of Honor headstone placed on the burial site. New Hampshire columnist John Clayton’s Memorial Day piece in the Manchester paper about this young Texas resident’s concern for a Candia soldier brought the story to the Fitt’s Museum’s attention. Mr. Lisarelli kindly provided the trustees with copies of all the documents he had collected and we were able to piece George Frank Robie’s history together. The soldier did not come home again, but we keep the sword that he carried, and now the story of his life, to remind us of his gallantry and sacrifice.

Reprinted in part with permission from “A Candia Collection” by Dott Purington