People

Col. Nathaniel Shatswell and the Battle of Harris Farm

Nathaniel Shatswell

Nathaniel Shatswell

Nathaniel Shatswell was born on Nov. 26, 1834 and grew up in the Shatswell home on High St. During the Civil War, he was instrumental in forming the Ipswich companies, and rose to the rank of colonel.

In the spring of 1861, Company A and L of the First Massachusetts Heavy Artillery Regiment were assembled with Ipswich soldiers, and were assigned to protect the forts around Washington, D.C. When the Confederates attacked at Harris Farm during the part of the Battle of Spotsylvania Courthouse, the First Regiment went into battle. Rebel bullets began to fly, and before long many Union soldiers were dead or injured.

Colonel Shatswell was glazed by a bullet to his head early in the battle, but returned to take command. With blood saturating his coat, Shatswell inspired his fellow soldiers. Although 398 men from the First Regiment were killed early in the battle, Shatswell’s troops drove the Confederates into the cover of the woods. Every time they emerged, the first battalion charged and drove them back, eventually ending with a Northern victory. The Harris Farm battle claimed 1,598 Confederate and Union lives.

After the war, Col. Shatwell worked for a while as the assistant superintendent of the Ipswich House of Correction, but in 1890 Shatwell became the curator of the museum of the Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. Nathaniel Shatwell died on December 14, 1905, and is buried in the Old North Burial Ground, alongside his wife, Mary White.

General Shatswell owned this cottage on Little Neck. In 1875, General Sutton hosted 67 Ipswich men, all over the age of 70, to an outing at General Shatswell's cottage. Alice Keenan wrote extensively about the event in her book, Ipswich Yesterday.

Nathaniel Shatswell owned this cottage that was dubbed “The Grand Army House” on Little Neck. In 1875, General William Sutton hosted 67 Ipswich men, all over the age of 70, to an outing at General Shatswell’s cottage. A young reporter wrote about the event, “These old men who had seen generations born and die, who lived to talk with the men who had formed our nation, were not idle.” After a hearty dinner and a climb to the top of the hill, they gathered in groups and discussed the deplorable degeneracy of the times.

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Categories: People, war

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2 replies »

  1. “After a hearty dinner and a climb to the top of the hill, they gathered in groups and discussed the deplorable degeneracy of the times.” Some things never change! Bob Gravino

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