Born on June 6,1840 in Haverhill, Massachusetts
Died on December 17,1876 in Pittsfield
Son of Charles L. and Harriet P. Bartlett
Was a Major-General with the United States Volunteers. Was one of the most gallant defenders of the Union during the Civil War.
At the outbreak of the Civil War Bartlett was in his junior year at Harvard College.
On April 17,1861 he responded to the first call of President Lincoln for troops. He enlisted with the Fourth Battalion, Massachusetts Volunteer Militia.
His intelligence and faithfulness impressed his commanding officer F.W. Palfrey, who was in charge of the Twentieth Regiment Volunteer Infantry, that he was appointed as a captain on July 10,1861.
Fought at the Ball’s Bluff Maryland on October 24,1861. As the second officer of the regiment, he showed admirable courage, zeal and untiring energy.
On April 24,1862 at the siege of Yorktown Virginia a minie ball struck his leg and necessitated amputation four inches above the knee. Recovering rapidly with Spartanlike courage, he left the hospital in Baltimore and attended class day at Harvard College and received his degree. He was now a Colonel of the Forty-Ninth Infantry Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia.
In 1863 his regiment marched on Port Hudson ,LA. And was where Bartlett was shot again, this time in his heel and left wrist.
Returning to Pittsfield, his regiment was mustered out of Pittsfield again on May of 1864 to fight numerous battles. Bartlett was shot again, this time in the temple at the Battle of Wilderness.
In June of 1864 at age 25, he was commissioned as a Brigadier-General and was assigned to the Ninth Army Corps.
On July 30 1864 at the battle in Petersburg Virginia he was taken prisoner. Two months later he was part of a prisoner exchange. Returning home he was quite ill with dysentery.
For his bravery and gallant service during the Civil War, he was commissioned a Major-General of the United States Volunteers on March 13,1865.
On October 14, 1865 Bartlett married Agnes Pomeroy of Pittsfield and they had six children .
In July of 1866 he left the military.
Still physically weak, he became the Treasurer and General Manager of the Pomeroy Iron Works in West Stockbridge.
In 1873 and 1874 he was in charge of Powhatan Iron Company in Richmond Virginia.
In December of 1875 he returned to Pittsfield with rapidly failing health and failing fortunes.
While in Pittsfield he was one of the original trustees of the Berkshire Athenaeum. He also oversaw the erection of the Civil War soldier’s monument for which he wrote the inscription in Park Square.
In April 1871 Bartlett became Senior Warden of St. Stephen’s Church in Pittsfield,
His life; to those who saw it, was an object lesson in Christian faith. His interests were in what was most valuable to every community, in religion, in education and in the elevation of politics. His patriotism was true
Patriotism. His love of Country embraced the whole country. He had absolute devotion to the Flag and felt every American should love and honor that Flag as he did.
His splendid military services were appreciated by the people of Massachusetts as shown by the fact that his statue was placed in the State House in Boston on May 27,1904. The statue was executed by the celebrated sculptor Daniel Chester French. The original plaster cast for the statue is located at the Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield.
French also made a marble bust of the general in 1882, which is now located at Harvard University.
Herman Melville saw at the time Colonel Bartlett in a parade and inspired him to write a poem “The College Colonel”.
In Pittsfield a school had been named for general, Bartlett School and a street was also named for the general to preserve the name and memory of an outstanding soldier and citizen of Pittsfield.
*As a Harvard junior, William Francis Bartlett came to Pittsfield in 1862 to drill the 49th Massachusetts Infantry and serve, for a time, as the regiment’s colonel. Bartlett served with distinction, was wounded four times, taken prisoner, and commissioned a brevet major general at the Civil War’s end. This statue by Daniel Chester French is at Berkshire Community College. Herman Melville honored Bartlett with his poem “The College Colonel.”
* – Copied from the Postcard History Series Pittsfield The Berkshire County Historical Society Copyright 2016