A Soldier’s Tale: Piecing Together the Story of Adolphus Strassman
Adolphus Strassman (alias Rich) was born in Hungary and immigrated to Fall River, Massachusetts. In 1863, at the age of 13, he lied about his age and enlisted in the Union army to receive the bounty they were offering for service. His diary, written in 1865, reflects his concern for his family’s welfare, as almost everything he earned was sent to Fall River.
This exhibit includes two carte de visitès and a tintype of Strassman, excerpts from his diary, and his citizenship, pension and discharge papers.
The Strassman Collection is small, but includes documents that allow us to catch a glimpse into his life. Strassman was a Private under Captain John D. Parker, Jr. in the 2nd Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery, Company I. He enlisted on November 23, 1863 and was discharged on September 3, 1865 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. His discharge certificate states that he was born in Hungary, which was then part of Austria, and that he was 18 years of age. This is not his real age at the time: in reality, he would have been 15 or 16 years of age.
The 2nd Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery
The 2nd Regiment of the Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery was formed on July 28, 1863 in Readville, Massachusetts. Company I was mustered in on December 11, 1863. The Regiment was headquartered at Norfolk and Portsmouth, Virginia until May 1864, when it moved to New Berne, North Carolina (until July 1865.) Strassman’s diary was written while the Regiment was in New Berne, and he also makes some mention of the 2nd Battle of Kinston (also known as the Battle of Wyse Fork) on March 7-10, 1865. The Union army defeated the Confederates and occupied Kinston on March 14th (on the 13th of March, Strassman wrote that he participated in a house raid and took some molasses.)
The Battle of Wyse Fork
The Battle of Wyse Fork began on March 7, 1865, when General Braxton Bragg’s Confederate forces blocked Major General Jacob D. Cox’s Union troops from Bern-Goldsboro Railroad, which would effectively cut off supplies to General Sherman’s troops. Bragg sent Robert Hoke’s division into the Union left flank, which enabled Hoke to capture an entire New England regiment. Although his handwriting is difficult to read in some parts, Strassman’s diary tells us about this battle, as well as the Union army’s subsequent defeat of Hoke and Bragg.
Select one of the links below to see images from the Adolphus Strassman Collection.