- Historic Sites
Asa Smith Leaves The War
AN AMERICAN HERITAGE ORIGINAL DOCUMENT Edited and with an introduction
February 1971 | Volume 22, Issue 2
It was six o’clock; my mother had just arisen, while the rest of the family were in bed. It was a very happy reunion, all being present with the exceptions of my brother William W. (who was in the 22nd Mass. Volunteers, Co. B) and the youngest brother, George Homer, a student at Harvard.
For a few days it was incumbent upon me to keep quiet, and rest as much as possible, but the neighbors were curious and callers were plenty. As I could eat nothing but liquids, in their kindness they collected money and purchased a milch cow, and had it driven to the place as a present. … A few nights after my return I was surprised by a visit from the Natick Brass Band (composed of old acquaintances) who played several patriotic tunes.
Troubled for some time by hemorrhages and “small pieces of bone working through the tissues into the mouth,” Smith at Length began to recover rapidly.
While remaining at home, I was visited by Dr. Henry I. Bowditch (who was a personal friend of Governor John A. Andrew) and [he] asked me if I would like a second lieutenancy in the 55th Mass. Volunteers (colored), and [I] was told by him that I could have it if I desired.
I explained to him that it would be impossible for me to take the field with them, as I could not eat army rations. He was aware of it but thought I would like the honor of wearing shoulder straps, and said that the regiment was to be stationed on an island near Charleston, South Carolina, for drill and discipline while doing guard duty, and might never have to go into more active service.
I told him that I had been in service long enough to know how soldiers felt about having their officers leave them in such a manner, that what service I had performed had been honorable, and that to do as he suggested would be just the same as to resign in the face of the enemy, and I could not do it. After some talk he said that he thought I was right. I thanked him sincerely for the honor he intended to confer upon me; but never have regretted my refusal.
Smith shortly returned to work in his home town. The following winter he was made commanding officer (foreman) of Victor Engine No. 1 of the Natick Fire Department. In 1865 he was appointed deputy state constable, and in the winter of 1870-71 was appointed a messenger in the House of Representatives, and then night inspector at the Boston Customs House. During his service there he entered the Boston University School of Medicine, from which he received an M. D. degree in June, 1877; the following May he opened an office for the practice of medicine in South Boston, retaining his Customs House position until he should get established. In June, 1901, he removed to the Dorchester district, and there he happily raised his three sons and two daughters.