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The Second Mass and Its Fighting Californians

A Reference site of images, articles, artifacts of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry including the Cal 100 and the Cal Battalion.

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Henry M. Goodrich, Company M, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry

from Mike Fitzpatrick

            Henry M. Goodrich was born in New York in 1839.  How he got to California before the Civil War is unknown, but he may have left family in Illinois before traveling west.  He enlisted in Captain Manning’s company in San Francisco on March 2, 1863.  This company was part of what was known as the California Battalion and would become Company M of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry.  At the time of his enlistment, Goodrich was described as 24 years old with a light complexion, gray eyes, brown hair and stood a slight 5 feet 3˝ inches tall.  He was by occupation a saddler; certainly a man familiar with horses.

            His first year in the service was fairly uneventful.  From October 1863 to January 1864 Goodrich was assigned as a teamster.  Shortly after returning from his wagon driver’s seat to the saddle of a cavalry horse, Goodrich had the extreme misfortune to be captured by Mosby’s guerrillas in the disastrous affair at Dranesville, Virginia on February 22, 1864.

            Goodrich and the other POWs were marched off posthaste for the Confederate capital at Richmond, Virginia.  Goodrich was confined at Richmond on February 29, 1864 and sent to Americus, Georgia on March 4, 1864.  There he was incarcerated at the soon‑to‑be notorious Camp Sumter prison compound at Andersonville.  Goodrich was one of the first guests, arriving barely a week after the stockade first opened (or should we say closed) its gates on February 27, 1864.  At the time of his arrival, Andersonville was not yet over‑crowded and had yet to earn its reputation as a veritable hell on earth.  Goodrich and the other prisoners would have had no clue as to the misery and death that awaited them.

            On March 12, a few days after his arrival, Goodrich was admitted to the prison hospital for an unknown complaint and returned to the prison stockade on March 14.  By the time summer arrived along with sweltering heat and additional tens of thousands of Union prisoners, sanitation at the compound was almost nonexistent and food and shelter were woefully inadequate.  Goodrich was again admitted to the hospital on June 1, 1864 with diarrhea.  He must have been one of the lucky ones who lived after becoming sick enough to be sent to the hospital.  Goodrich returned to the prison on August 28, 1864, but in the months since his capture he had seen many of his comrades die.  Morale was low and many of the prisoners could not understand why the Government had apparently abandoned them with no hope of exchange.

            On September 1 the Confederates evacuated Atlanta and opened the door for General William T. Sherman to occupy the city.  A month later, on October 5, 1864, Confederate President Jefferson Davis made a speech at Augusta, Georgia in an attempt to reassure southerners that, with determined and vigorous effort, the Yankees could be driven from the South.  Davis’ confidence, however, did not stop the Confederates from moving many POWs from Andersonville to other prisons out of fear that Sherman would launch a rescue attempt against Andersonville from his base at Atlanta.

            Goodrich was one of many men moved to a prison facility known as Camp Lawton near Millen, Georgia about 50 miles northwest of Savannah.  There are two conflicting accounts of what happened next.

            William Dale, Surgeon General for Massachusetts, filed a certificate with the Adjutant General’s Office that Henry Goodrich died at Savannah, Georgia in September 1864.  The source of his information is not stated, but presumably was conveyed across the lines by flag of truce or a paroled prisoner.

            Conversely, fellow prisoner John Cain of Company E, 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry, put down Goodrich’s name on his unofficial list of prisoners of war who left the stockade at Camp Lawton on or about November 10, 1864 and who were believed to have taken the oath of allegiance to the Confederate Government.

            At least three men from the regiment are known to have deserted to the enemy while in prison.  One of them, Joseph Kemp of Company B, was captured at Dranesville at the same time as Goodrich and joined 10th Tennessee after more than 8 months as a POW.  Kemp was recaptured by Union forces at Egypt Station, Mississippi on December 28, 1864 and sent to Alton Prison in Illinois before joining the 5th US Volunteers in an effort to clear his name.  The other two (captured long after Goodrich and Kemp) were William Harmon of Company K and Franklin Schellinger of Company F, both of whom joined the Confederate Foreign Legion.

            The two versions of Goodrich’s departure from prison camp make for some intriguing speculation.  Did Goodrich actually take an oath to the Confederacy out of desperation or as a means of escape?  And if so, did he serve at any time in the Confederate military, possibly biding his time until he saw an opportunity to make it back into the Union lines?  Was his reported death an effort to cover up his apparent defection?  Or did Goodrich simply play dead in order to get carried outside the walls of the stockade and make good his escape?  Could Cain have mistakenly assumed Goodrich took the oath once his absence from the prison was noticed?  At this point it is not clear how he got out of the prison.  But he did escape.

            Rather than making his way to Union beachheads along the nearby Atlantic coast, Goodrich escaped westward.  His exact route is unknown, but he next appears in the records two months later at Cairo, Illinois on January 13, 1865, where he requested transportation to Cincinnati, Ohio.  The notation on the government requisition form cites the “Nature of Service: Enroute to join his Regt Escaped prisoner of war.”

            Goodrich’s name next appears on a stub from the Pass Book for Head Quarters, Department of Washington.  The pass, dated February 2, 1865, allowed J. Lacy 15th N.J. and H. M. Goodrich 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry to proceed to the Commanding General of Prisoners.  Over the next week two more passes were issued to Goodrich so that he could go to the “City” on February 4 and February 7.

            The records further state that Goodrich “reported to the Off. Com’g Genl of Pris. Feb 20/65, said to be escaped pris of war, and sent to Adjt Genl the same day with recommendation that he be ordered to his regt, with permission to delay en route 30 days.”

            Records kept by the Regiment during the last months of the war are often incomplete and confusing; sometimes reconstructed many weeks after the fact.  The Company muster roll dated February 28, 1865 lists Goodrich as being at Remount Camp.  The April muster says that he was “Absent paroled prisoner.”  Because he was an escaped POW rather than one that had been released on parole, there would have been no legal restriction on his return to the regiment.  The notation that he was “paroled” probably means he was on furlough as a returning escaped POW, but it does not explain why it took so long for him to rejoin the Regiment following his meeting with the Adjutant General unless there were extenuating issues relating to his health.

            Goodrich was promoted to corporal on May 1, 1865; however, records indicate he did not rejoin the command until May 20, 1865.  Presumably he would have been with the Regiment at the time of the Grand Review on May 23.  Then, from June 11 to 25, 1865 he was treated in the hospital for chronic Orchitis.  Goodrich was discharged from the service on June 22, 1865 at Augur U.S.A. General Hospital by General Order 77 A.G.O., dated April 25, 1865.

            After the war Goodrich returned to the West.  For a while he and his father worked in the mines at Cottonwood, Utah.  Here, about 1871, Goodrich received a rupture on his right side forcing him to begin wearing a truss.  After about 10 years it commenced to get worse.  While working at the Waterloo Mine at Daggett, California Goodrich received a second rupture on the left side.  This left him so disabled that he could never again do any hard work or lifting.

            A life‑long bachelor, Goodrich was still living at Daggett in San Bernadino County as late as 1900.  By age 67 in 1906 he was living at the Nott Military Home in Los Angeles County.  By then his rough life was catching up with him.  He complained of heart disease, a double hernia, piles, and asthma and was wholly disabled for any kind of manual labor.