George H. Washburn courtesy of Brian Burkhart
Introduction by Vicki Masters Profitt, Illuminated History:
I first met Brian Burkhart nearly three years ago, when he approached me at a presentation I gave about Perinton’s Civil War soldiers. After speaking with Brian for just a few minutes, his enthusiasm for researching the soldiers of Rochester’s 108th New York Infantry was evident. Since then, Brian has been a wonderful source of information about the boys of the 108th. I’m pleased to publish this Hero Highlight of George H. Washburn by Brian Burkhart.
George H. Washburn was born October 29, 1843, the only son of Charles and Ruth A. Washburn. He was raised in what was then called Corn Hill, Third Ward, in the City of Rochester, New York. Young Washburn entered old Public School Number Three, situated on what was then called Clay Street, now Tremont Street, where his first teacher was Miss Sarah Frost. In 1852, during the great cholera epidemic, his father died after a short illness, leaving a widow and two children; his younger sister, Dora (later to be Mrs. Franklin E. Purdy), and George. Shortly afterwards, he attempted to reduce the burdens of his widowed mother and support of the family. His grandmother, Mrs. Hannah Tozer, was living with the family. He applied for a situation as check boy in the old dry goods establishment of Timothy Chapman, at 12 State Street. George went to work at seventy-five cents per week, and remained there until August 1862.
He was 19 years old when he enlisted in the 108th Regiment New York Volunteer Infantry at Rochester, Monroe County, New York, to serve three years. Actually, Washburn’s first experience in military service was not with the 108th, but with the “Zouave Cadets”, composed of young lads from Public School No. 3. On August 11, 1862 he mustered in as a Private in Company ‘D’. He was with the regiment when it left Rochester for the seat of war on August 19, 1862. He was wounded in action on May 3, 1863 during the Battle of Chancellorsville and was transferred to Company ‘B’, 20th Regiment of the Veteran Reserve Corps (no date). He was discharged June 19, 1865 at Washington, D.C.
From Washburn’s Regimental History: “At the battle of Antietam on September 17th, the first battle the regiment was engaged in and suffered so terribly, one of his tent mates and Sunday school teacher previous to enlistment, Joseph S. Delevau, was badly wounded in the groin, and with the assistance of Sergeant John H. Jennings, another tent mate, they carried their wounded companion off the field and laid him in a place of safety, returned to the regiment and remained during the battle. He was with the regiment on the march to Bolivar Heights, near Harper’s Ferry, and while there was assigned to duty as one of the guard on the Balloon Corps. When the regiment moved on to Fredericksburg, the guard followed in the rear and joined the regiment at or near Snicker’s Gap, and when the regiment went into winter quarters at Falmouth, Virginia, did picket and guard duty; was in the battle of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. He was wounded during the Battle of Chancellorsville and was sent to Findley Hospital in Washington, D.C. where he remained for a long time, sick with the typhoid fever (at the time of enlistment was five feet three inches, and weighed 112 pounds). After his recovery he was detailed at headquarters by Dr. TV. A. Bradley, surgeon in charge, and shortly afterwards ordered to report to Brigadier-General J.H. Martindale’s headquarters, corner 19th and I Streets, who at that time was Military Governor of the District of Columbia. When General Martindale rejoined his brigade, Washburn was assigned to Major Breck’s Bureau in the War Department, Adjutant-General’s Office, and later on transferred to headquarters 22d Army Corps Department at Washington, commanded by Major-General C.C. Augur, at the corner of 15£ Street and Pennsylvania Ave., and remained there till mustered out June 19th, 18G5. After receiving his discharge, he made application for a situation in the Treasury Department, and being backed up by strong testimonials from General Augur, Colonel J.H. Taylor, chief of staff, and many of the staff officers at headquarters, received an appointment as first class clerk by Hon. Hugh McCullough, Secretary, and assigned to duty in the Internal Revenue Bureau, remaining there till 1868, when he returned to Rochester, New York, and entered the dry goods business again, remained a short time and then entered the clothing business; continued till the fall of 1889, when he received an appointment as clerk in the Blue Line and Canada Southern Line office, Powers Block, where he is at the present time in charge of the mileage desk.
He was married November 24th, 1869, in the City of Rochester to Miss Lillian De Ette Inman, only daughter of Isaac L. Inman (formerly of his company), and has one son, Percy L. Washburn, twenty-two years of age, and 2d Lieutenant of C.A. Glidden Camp No. 6, Sons of Veterans.”
“Comrade Washburn is a member of Genesee Falls Lodge, No. 507, F. A. M.; Flower City Lodge, No, 555, I.O.O.F.; Lallah Rook Grotta, No. 3, Order of Veiled Prophets; Golden Rale Chapter, No. 59, Order Eastern Star; Grace Rebecca Lodge, No. 54, I.O.O.F. Assistant Adjutant-General, National Staff, Union Veterans’ Union; Assistant Adjutant-General, Department New York, Union Veterans’ Union (for the past four years); Past Inspector-General, National Staff, Union Veterans’ Union. Past Aide on Department Staff, G.A.R.; Past Adjutant, E. G. Marshall Post 397, G.A.R.; Past Adjutant, G. B. Force Command, No, 13, Union Veterans’ Union; Adjutant, W.T. Sherman Command, No. 2, Union Veterans’ Union; Secretary, 108th Regiment, New York Veteran Association, for the past twelve years.”
“Comrade Washburn, through his endeavors, was the means of gathering together the survivors of the old regiment for a social reunion, and in 1879 they held their first reunion at Newport House, Irondequoit Bay, and at that time he commenced to gather together items relative to the regiment, and through the assistance of many of the members of the organization he has been able to place before the survivors and their many friends this souvenir, trusting that what errors have been made, that they will be cheerfully overlooked by the many admirers and friends of the Old 108th Regiment, New York Volunteers.”
George Washburn died January 27, 1905 at age 61 and was buried in the Buffalo Cemetery Lot at Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester. There is more on George Washburn in the green Scrapbook by William Farley Peck located in Rundel Library in the Oversize Book section of the Local History Department]; George is the author of A Complete Military History & Record of the 108th Regiment N.Y. Vols. from l862 to l894.
A note from Vicki Masters Profitt:
George H. Washburn is one of my heroes. He was a man who took the initiative to gather information from his former comrades of the 108th New York Infantry because he saw the historical value in their war-time memories. Thanks to George’s efforts, we have an entire volume of memoirs pertaining to the 108th. This was no small feat. The scope of the project is mindboggling, and even more so when one keeps in mind that George Washburn did not live in the time of the internet and social media. The entire book was painstakingly created through his meticulous efforts to contact the men with whom he had served through the use of letters and advertisements. George asked the former soldiers to send autobiographies and photos of themselves. Over 200 sketches, 48 obituaries and the addresses of over 360 men grace this book. Yes, George H. Washburn is definitely my hero.