by Kathy Miner, Madison, WI, 2015
Here is what I know about Ellis and Jacob/Ezban Amsden (the latter’s name is variously given as Ezban Jacob, Jacob Ezban, Jake, etc). They were from Petersham. Ellis was my great-great-grandfather; after that generation I am descended from Albert Vaughan Amsden, another of his sons. Albert was only 8 years old when his father died.
Ellis and Ezban, who was the oldest surviving son (an earlier son having died at age 2), enlisted together in the Union Army in Petersham on Nov 19, 1861, and were mustered into Capt. Lee’s Company (later known as Company C), 31st Regiment Massachusetts Infantry, the very next day. At that time Ellis was 44 years old and Ezban was 19.
Ellis died of “disease” (probably either malaria or typhus) in the barracks hospital in Baton Rouge on Sept 25, 1863. He had briefly been a prisoner of war prior to that, having been captured at Brashear City, LA, on June 23 and released on June 29.
Ezban re-enlisted on Feb 14, 1864 and died on June 3 of that year, from injuries sustained in the Battle of Yellow Bayou (which had taken place on May 18). He died in Baton Rouge but I do not know in which hospital or facility. Those dates are credited to the National Archives & Records Administration, Washington DC. I did not do that research myself, but received the information from others.
Ellis Peckham Amsden was the brother-in-law of the unfortunate Marcus M. Thompson, also of the 31st. They were married to sisters — Clarissa and Charity Vaughan, respectively. Ellis and Ezban are mentioned in a long letter Marcus Thompson wrote on Nov 30, 1862, back to another brother-in-law, Orrin Amsden of Petersham. In that account Thompson says “Ellis has been sick, but the last I heard from him he was on guard [duty]. Ezban has been prety [sic] well. They are at Fort Jackson, 80 miles from New Orleans, and I am 40 miles from New Orleans.” (Thompson was stationed at Fort Pike at the time. He had enlisted on Nov 5, 1861, but for some unknown reason was not mustered in until Feb 19, 1862.)
Ezban is also mentioned (as “Jake” and/or “Jacob”) in your online material, in M. M. Clothier’s account of “An Incident of 17th of May, 1864.” Ironically this “incident” took place one day before Ezban would receive the injuries which claimed his life. Less than 3 weeks later he would be dead.
Much of my family history information comes from the book Some Descendants of Isaac Amsden of Cambridge, Massachusetts, self-published in 1934 by Murray M. Brown.