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Chase Philbrick & the 15th Massachusetts Infantry

By Robert W. Philbrook

LtCol-CDV Photo.JPG (13255 bytes)  LtCol-MHI Photo.jpg (75256 bytes)  Chase Philbrick.jpg (108113 bytes)

(L. to R.:  Original CDV of Chase, circa mid 1862, MHI photograph of Chase showing the effects of the war circa 1863, original CDV post-war image circa 1880's.)

    Chase Philbrick was born on March 18, 1823 in Sanbornton, New Hampshire.  Chase and his younger sister Mary Jane were the only children of Joseph Philbrick and Polly Chase.  Joseph was a soldier in 1814 and was by profession a farmer and wheelwright.  In 1837 the family moved to Wentworth, N.H.  Later the family lived in Amoskeag, New Hampshire and finally in Quincy, Massachusetts.  Chase Philbrick was a 7th generation descendant of Thomas Philbrick (the Emigrant) who brought the family from England to America about 1633 and is the collective ancestor of most of the Philbrick and Philbrook families in the United States today.

    Chase married Susan Harwood on November 24, 1846.  Chase and Susan had two children, Clarinda who was born in Amoskeag, N.H. on September 9, 1847.  Their other child, Eugene W. was born in Quincy, MA on January 7, 1851.  Susan died of Consumption at age 24 years, 7 months and 24 days in Quincy on March 9, 1852.  She was buried there in Quincy.

    On August 11, 1856 Chase married Maria Louisa Johnson at Wentworth, New Hampshire. They had a daughter, Anna who was born in 1861 in Wentworth.  His occupation was listed as being a stone-cutter.

Maria Johnson-Philbrick.jpg (184718 bytes)

Annie Philbrick-Mace.JPG (184540 bytes)

Maria L. (Johnson) Philbrick

Anna (Philbrick) Mace

   With Lincoln’s call to arms at the outbreak of the Civil War, Chase enrolled in Company H, 15th Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers on May 25, 1861.  We was mustered into service as a Captain at Worcester, Massachusetts on August 7, 1861.  Chase’s baptism of fire would come in October at what would be known at the Battle of Ball’s Bluff.  The 15th’s troops were originally armed with Austrian “Lorenz” Rifle muskets, however these 54 and/or 59 caliber rifles performed poorly and those that weren’t lost during the retreat from Ball’s Bluff were replaced with Springfield Rifles in November and December of 1861.  Chase was wounded in the right breast during the engagement and was among the many Union troops who swam across the river from Ball’s Bluff after the boats were destroyed, disabled or missing.

    Chase was promoted to Major on April 29, 1862 when George Ward replaced General Devens and Major John H. Kimball became 2nd in command of the 15th Massachusetts Infantry.  Chase would see many major engagements during 1862 including the Battle of Fair Oaks in May; Battle of Seven Days in Virginia during June; Malvern Hill in July and at would survive the bloodiest day at Antietam, Maryland in September when 22,719 Americans were killed, wounded or missing.  Fredericksburg in December of 1826 would be Chase’s final battle.  During the 13th of December he is wounded in the ankle shortly after an artillery shell kills Regimental Surgeon, S.F. Haven Jr.  Despite chronic problems with diarrhea during 1862 following Fair Oaks and the Seven Days battles, Chase performed his duties including leading the 15th into battle at Fredericksburg while being carried on a stretcher by his comrades.

    After Fredericksburg, Chase was sent North to recuperate and rejoined his regiment in March of 1863.  He health had not improved and he was discharged from the service on April 16, 1863.  Chase was in New Hampshire until September and finally came to his final home in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

    After the war Chase, though still suffering from his aliments, served as the city marshal in Lawrence.  He and his wife lived in a two-story wooden house at 35 Abbott Street in Lawrence, which he built and lived out his remaining days.  Chase Philbrick died on November 30th, 1893 at the age of 70.

 

SOURCES:

Original CDV's of Chase, Maria & Anna courtesy of Robert W. Philbrook

Circa 1863 Photograph courtesy of Military History Institute; Carlisle, PA

Philbrick and Philbrook Families by Reverend Jacob Chapman

Pension Records of Chase Philbrick, courtesy of National Archives, Washington D.C.

An Introduction to Civil War Small Arms by Earl J. Coates and Dean S. Thomas

The Battle of Ball’s Bluff by Thomas L. Breiner

Reports of Col. Charles Devens, 15th Mass. Infantry (October 23, 1861) – Official Records of the War of the Rebellion

 

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