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Chaplain John Wesley Adams, U.S.V.


Chaplain John Wesley Adams, son of John and Mary (Taggart) Adams, was born in Townsend, Massachusetts, May 23, 1832, and is the seventh generation from Henry Adams, the ancestor of the Presidents. A part of his childhood was spent in Temple, Maine. He was educated at the Oliver Grammar and High Schools, Lawrence, Massachusetts, and was a teacher of vocal music for some years in that city.

He joined the New Hampshire Methodist Conference in 1858, and has enjoyed successful pastorates in Rye, Derry, South Newmarket, North Salem, East Canaan, Winchester, Great Falls (High Street), Tilton, Newport, Exeter, Keene, and Greenland. For four years (1877-80) he was the presiding elder of Concord District. In 1876 he was chosen a delegate to the General Conference held at Baltimore. He has served four years as secretary of his conference, and fourteen years as president of the trustees of the New Hampshire Conference Seminary and Female College at Tilton, New Hampshire.

He was married February 20, 1854, to Rebecca Hardison (deceased), and August 24, 1858, to Lydia M. Trefethen (living). By his first wife he had one son, John F. (deceased), and one daughter (living), Mrs. Mary E. Stevens; and by his second wife three sons and two daughters,-Wilber F., Dr. Charles W. (living), Freddie O. (deceased), Mrs. L. Viola Foss (living), and Sadie E. (deceased).

In 1861-62 Mr. Adams addressed many assemblies convened for the purpose of promoting enlistments. He was commissioned chaplain of General Gilman Marston's original command, " The Fighting Second," December 5, 1863. He went immediately to his regiment, then guarding the Rebel Prison Camp at Point Lookout, Maryland. He devoted himself to the social and moral welfare of his comrades in camp and hospital. In 1864 he was with his men in the campaign of the Army of the James, participating in the battles at Bermuda Hundred, Point of Rocks, Swift Creek, Proctor's Creek, Drury's Bluff, Cold Harbor, second engagement at Fair Oaks, and siege of Petersburg, and entering Richmond under General Devens the day of its surrender.

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On Fast-Day, June 1, 1865, he preached before his regiment a memorial sermon, on the death of Abraham Lincoln, from the text (2 Cor. iv. 9), "Cast down, but not destroyed." In July, 1865, he inaugurated a school for colored children in the city of Fredericksburg.

In a flattering testimonial on parchment, presented to Chaplain Adams on his final and honorable discharge at Concord, New Hampshire, December 25, 1865, and signed by Colonel J. N. Patterson, his last commander, and all the commissioned officers of his regiment, these words occur: " In all the battles in which his regiment has been engaged since he joined it, he has performed his duty with bravery, always having been under fire, and frequently at the extreme front."

 

With as regular public ministrations as the exigencies of war would allow, were interspersed social services, prayers at hospital, personal counsel, and the appropriate burial of the dead. He kept all his men supplied with good reading-matter, and the sick and feeble with such comforts as the Christian and Sanitary Commissions afforded.

On tedious marches, many an exhausted soldier was enabled to get through by being helped into the chaplain's saddle. The many recognitions of his integrity, fidelity, and courage by his comrades are gratefully remembered.

In 1876 he revisited some of the Southern battlefields made so familiar to him during the war.

Since the war Chaplain Adams has been in constant demand for Memorial-Day services, lectures on his " Experiences as Army Chaplain," and camp-fire speeches. In 1883 he was poet of the veterans' reunion at Weirs, New Hampshire. By request he read. an original poem at the dedication of his regiment's monument on the Gettysburg battle-field (1885).

He always enjoyed the affection and confidence of General Marston, and was chosen to make the dedicatory address when the general's monument was presented to the town of Exeter by the veterans of the Second Regiment, May 30, 1891.

In 1890-91 Mr. Adams made a five-months' tour abroad, visiting many of the most interesting localities in the British Isles, the continent of Europe, Greece, Syria, Palestine, and Lower and Upper Egypt. These travels have enabled him to add considerably to his list of popular lectures. Chaplain Adams is a member of Moses N. Collins Post, 26, Grand Army of the Republic, and of the Mass. Commandery of the Loyal Legion.

Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.


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