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Mass 3rd Infantry - Company F
History of the Officers




This history is taken from the History of the Third Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Militia, 1861-63. This particular Chapter was written by F. P. Vincent, Edgartown.

This company, which was recruited in New Bedford, was composed of men from new Bedford, Dartmouth, Edgartown, Westport, and Acushnet. Several of the men from New Bedford were sailors, and after returning from their nine months' service either enlisted in the navy or went to sea. Several such never returned again to America; they were what are known as "roving characters." We would say, however, that many of this company re-enlisted and served until the end of the war.


Captain Hurlburt
Captain Hurlburt and his lieutenants recruited the company, and were elected as its commissioned officers. No one ever had cause to regret the choice made. They were bold, true officers, and the non-commissioned officers also were as true and faithful as any company could wish. Captain Hurlburt, whether seen on horse or on foot, was an officer of which no company need be ashamed. He was of good build, and quick to learn the evolutions of the company, whetheron company, battalion, or brigade drill. His men believed in him, and I think would have followed him anywhere he might lead. In evidence of hisstanding as a military officer, I have only to refer to an order from his brigade commander, just before leaving for home.


Headquarters Jourdan's Brigade,
Eighteenth Army Corps,
Newbern, NC June 10, 1863
Captain: Inasmuch as the term of enlistment of the Third Regiment, Massachustets Volunteer Militia is about to expire, I cannot permit you to go to your home and its endearment without some slight recognition of your valuable services as a commanding officer, and it is with pleasure that I call the attention of your friends at home and abroad to your splendid company, for there is the proof of your ability as an officer.
With kind regards for your future happiness, believe me to be,
Respectfully, your obedient serant,
J. Jourdan,
Colonel Commanding Brigade


Before the war Captain Hurlburt purused the business of a ship carpenter in New Bedford, was for some time deputy sheriff of Bristol County, in which latter position he remained four years. After being mustered out he raised a company of cavalry and was captain of the same. Afte rthe war he was manager of a hotel in Hartford for seventeen years. Failing health caused him to seek the quiet of a home at the Vineyard, where he died in 1900, at the age of eighty-two years.

First Lieut. William H. Allen was in the harness making business for years, and later was known in New Bedford as the popualr "piano tuner and repairer." He died in New Bedford in 1892, and was buried with military honors.

Second Lieut. Jonathan W. Davis was detailed for signal corps service during his nine months' campaign. He returned with his company and for many years was bookkeeper at the Parker House, New Bedford. He died in New Bedford, in 1898, and was buried in the family cemetery.


Sergt Cannavan
But few, if any company in the Third Regiment, could bost of so proficient an orderly sergeant as Sergeant Cannavan, of Company F. From 1855 to 1860 he was in her Majesty Queen Victoria's army; he saw much hard fighting in the Crimean War and was honored with two medals for bravery at that time. After his return from his nine months' service for Uncle Sam, like a true soldier he engaged in such business as he could command.


He recruited for the army and drilled both men and officers. At one time it looked as theough he would receive a commission in the heavy artillery with Captain James L. Wilber, with whom he had spent several weeks of recruiteing, but Cpatain Wilbur was ordered to consolidate his company wihta portion of a company near Boston. Sergeant Cannavan was offered the sergeancy in the company but declined. Being determined to ese more active service, he went with his former captain, George R. Hurlburt in Company B, Fourth Massachusetts Cavalry. This time he enlisted as a private, all the sergeants' places being filled. Soon he was made sergeant and sent with a company to Hilton Head, Florida, where he was ordered to drill officers, both commissioned and non-commissioned. On the morning following Sergeant Cannavan's promotion, First Sergeant Ashley went ot the hospital, and, as he never returned to the company, Sergeant Cannvan preformed the duties of that officer.

Sergeant Cannavan distinguished himself during an engagement at Gainesville, Florida, on the 17th of August, 1864. In the absence of his superior offier he led his company in a desperate sabre charge, thus saving his comrades in the rear from capture by the rebel cavalry, who out numbered his cavalry two to one.

For this act of bravery he was commissioned Second Lieutenant in Company A, Fourth Cavalry. Inthis engagement he was unhorsed, his carbine shot away by a rebel bullet which destroyed the hook holding the carbine to the belt, and he received aslight wound. Seven days later Sergeant Cannavan with a few of his men reached the main command, and when they rode into camp the company thought these men must have come from the dead. Two months after this battle he was promoted to First Lieutenant Fourth Cavalry, Company B. After the surrender of Lee Lieutenant Cannavan was detailed to flag all trains going from Richmond to see if there were any deserters on board. he also had the supervision of families going from Richmond to their old plantations, sometimes going as many as forty miles into the interior.

Returning home in the latter part of November, 1865, he engaged in the grocery business. In 1875 Mr. Cannavan was apointed assitant city marshall, which office he occupied for two years. In 1878 he was for the second time appointed on the police force, in which capacity he has served the City of New Bedford continuously since that itme, viz., thirty years. During all these years he has never met the man whom he could not handle alone, and in some instances he has had some pretty hard cases wiht crazy drunks, but in no instance has he cracked a skull or broken flesh with his policeman's club. He is honored and respected by all the citizens of New Bedford. Even the rough classes yield when Cannavan is known to be after them. Now in the sixty-eight year of his age he is hale and happy. He has never indulged in the ardent and never used tobacco. He spends his spare time with his family reading instructive books. he is held in high esteem by all the children of his patrol, for he always carrieds strings for tops, and marbles in his pockets for the little ones.

The city honored him in 1905 by making him chief marshal on Memorial Day. Taking all in all we believe we make no mistake in writing so extendeda history of this remakrable man, of whom in our long acquaintance we have heard only good things. In the near future he expects to receive a medal of honor from this government for meritorious service rendered during the War of the Rebellion. His address is 427 North Chauncy Street, New Bedford, Mass.

These officers are but samples of the whole company. They were good fighters because they were well drilled; they were god soldiers because they were well disciplined; they are (those still living) good citizens, because they were good patriots; they have succeeded and made their mark in the world because the spirit of success is in them. Good officers make good soldiers, good soldiers make good citizens, and good citizens make a good country. It is asked, "Where are the men who made the rank and file of Company F?" the answer comes, "Many have joined the great majority, who as young men responded to their country's call in the hour of need." They did their work well; peace to their ashes. A great and mighty Nation is reaping the fruits of their toil, and the haughty South has been brought back, not the raging maniac she was in '61, but, cured of the past, she sits at the feet of Uncle Sam, "clothed and in her right mind."

"God of the nations, be with us yet,
Lest we forget, lest we forget
Lest we forget what war has cost,
When we our greatness loudly boast.
Lest we forget our noble sons,
Who died to hold our nation one.


Company F Roster
Massachusetts 3rd Infantry main page


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