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John Wesley Adams, U.S.V.
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
||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
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
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