Address of Ira D. Bates1 at the Funeral of Abiel P. Williams.
Friday the funeral services occurred in Dudley of a veteran soldier who was a member of the 25th Mass. Regt. M. V. M. and it seems fitting that one of his comrades of the same regiment should say a few words, to express if possible the esteem in which he was held by his comrades. The soldier of 61 is worthy of all honor for his patriotism in volunteering to bear arms in defense of his country. He is worthy of greater honor still if he performed unflinchingly all the duties that were assigned him whether in camp or field, on the march, or on the picket line, who asked not, why or wherefor, but obeyed with implicit faith and willingness all commands coming from competent authority. Good citizens, not to disparage any, were generally good soldiers because having lived as law abiding subjects the understood and appreciated the blessings of American institutions in full measure and so did they better understand the exigencies of the days of 61, the menace that the first gun of Sumpter portended, and the disastrous consequences of the severance of the Union. Comrade A. P. Williams pondered not long over the situation but Oct. 12th, 1861, enlisted at Worcester serving as a corporal until Oct. 20th, 1864, when he was promoted to 1st Sergeant which office he held until he was mustered out July 13th, 1865 having followed the tortures of the 25th Regiment three years and nine months.
The Regiment left Camp Lincoln, Worcester, thirty-two years ago the 31st of last October one thousand men strong mostly young men, some scarcely more than boys, a very few perhaps that had reached middle life.
I have them in my mind’s eye now as they marched off the old fair grounds through the streets of Worcester to take the cars at the old Foster Street depot. A sad occasion for those that were going and sadder perhaps for those we left behind, but
They went full of Patriotic zeal,
Be their future, woe or weal,
To move by might oppression’s heel
And crush a nation’s blight.
Their hearts were good, and true, and warm,
Yet them to meet the impending storm
‘Till the conflict o’er and victory won,
They vindicated right.
And comrade Williams was one of these. One of the thousands that participated in all the ravaging fortunes of the Regiment for nearly four years. To have been a member of this organization from 61 to 65 in nearly four years of very arduous service beginning with the perilous Burnside expedition, and including Newbern, Cold Harbor, and the long siege of Petersburg, and only ended with the surrender of Lee at Appomatox. To each individual member belongs a share of its glory and as brave men are generally modest, the bravest claim but a share yet that should be and must be an immortal inheritance, which shall be bequeathed to coming generations. So I his comrade claim for him a share, since he has since passed over the river and into camp on the other shore.
I claim the consideration of his townsmen that he may be honored, as a good soldier and a good citizen, but more than all I claim the most kindly sympathy of the patriotic public for the six children who are now fatherless and motherless, and the aged mother who still lingers and who is not spared the grief at the loss of her soldier son.
Ira D. Bates
1 Ira Bates and 18 year-old bootmaker from Milford enlisted on September 12, 1861 as a musician into Company “B” 25th Mass. Infantry. He re-enliste don December 1, 1863 and mustered out on July 13, 1865 at Readville, MA . He was promoted to principle musician on May 1, 1864. He later lived in New Boston (Fabien, CT).