Amherst in the Civil War: A focus on individuals

Patrick Browne first became hooked on the Civil War as a history and English major at the University of Massachusetts.

Fifteen years ago, Browne watched in awe as the 22nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry – a company of Civil War reenactors – marched down the streets during an Independence Day parade. He enlisted right away and moved up through the ranks; today he serves as captain, with a mission to educate others about the Civil War solider experience.

There were nearly 300 soldiers from Amherst who enlisted in the Civil War, and Marianne Curling, consulting curator for the Simeon Strong House, wants to know who they are. The Amherst Historical Society has begun an "Adopt a Soldier" program. Participants purchase pension records which serve as a starting point in their research. Curling hopes publicity of the project will prompt descendants of the soldiers to come forward. Letters and other artifacts that they may have can be used to both understand more about the individuals, as well as the town as a whole during the war.