Principal Cyrus Richards saw over 200 of his boys go off to join the War Between the States fighting for the North and a few for the South. One of them, Oscar D. Robinson, born on a farm in Cornish, NH, was one of 20 KUA boys who enlisted in Company E of the 9th New Hampshire Infantry. He graduated in 1862, valedictorian, and in his graduation address to his class, he reflected on a new trial that was about to begin. “Classmates the parting hours has come! The old chapel bell has summoned us for the last time! Already perchance our thoughts have wandered far beyond the distant hills where quiet homes and loving friends would bid us speak the sacred parting word…we realize that we are called to serve no other bonds of friendship than those formed by engaging in a common pursuit striving for a common goal and reaping a common reward.” Four days later, Oscar was a private in the army. These twenty boys carried with them into Virginia a silk flag made for them by their lady classmates containing the embroidered words, Animo et Fide (Courageous and Faithful). It was later returned to Meriden because army regulations forbid flags at a company level. After the war, Robinson had possession of the flag, but it is now lost to history.
Company E went through many campaigns including Burnside’s Bridge, Antietam, Fredericksburg, Vicksburg, Jackson and Spotsylvania. Oscar, after having viewed the fresh graves from the Battle of Antietam, wrote, “…the sighing breeze shall be their funeral dirge, more mournful than can be sounded from organ or harp, and the blessings accruing to posterity from this bloody contest shall do more honor than could all human eulogies.”
In 1865 Robinson wrote to his mother, “I know you have followed us in imagination thru every day of weary marching, of lingering sickness and bloody fighting & for ought to know our lives are spared in answer to your fervent unceasing prayers in our behalf. We may see some hard service yet, but what was most to be decided the terrible battles where tens of thousands met at dawn of day in the bloom of health and vigor of manhood to struggle, to fall, to die, and we might fall to strew the field with mangled corpses – these scenes of terror are past and God grant that they may never again be repeated on American soil. Yes the war is over!”
After the war, Captain Robinson returned home and entered Dartmouth College where he received a PhD. He then taught Latin and Greek (the subjects of his former principal, Cyrus Richards) in Albany, NY, where he became principal of the high school. He died on July 11, 1911, the last of the KUA boys from the 9th New Hampshire Infantry, Company E.
Many thanks go out to Nicholas Picerno, KUA parent of Nick ’98, who submitted a copy of his research paper, Courageous and Faithful, Kimball Union Academy in the Civil War, to be held in our Archives.
Next Week: Mary Jane Hawes Wilmarth, Class of 1854, suffragette