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Elias H. Mathewson

Elias H. Mathewson Born in Johnston, Rhode Island, to farmers Charles C. and Mary A. Mathewson, Elias Mathewson was a nineteen year old farm laborer when he mustered Sept. 30, 1861. He did not muster out until Oct. 3, 1864. He served as the Forge Wagon Driver in Battery E of the 1st RI Light Artillery. In that capacity he drove the team of mules that pulled the Battery's movable forge around. That does not mean that Mathewson avoided combat. For example, on the second day at Gettysburg, "the traveling forge, drawn by six mules, under the charge of Elias H. Mathewson, and the spare horses, were left in the rear, as usual during an engagement." Though this part of the battery was usually spared, "at this action they were not as fortunate, as the rebel shells overreached our lines and passed through their camp. The next morning, while changing their position, they were still more severely shelled, but, fortunately, escaped unharmed from the unwelcomed missiles." Mathewson served as driver throughout the campaign into Virginia in 1864, including the extraordinarily costly Battle of Cold Harbor in late May and early June of that year. After the war Mathewson returned to Rhode Island and worked as a machinist and car driver, and later as a coal and wood dealer. He married Louisa B. Mathewson (b. 1849) and they had two children, Mabel and Arthur. Elias Mathewson died on October 12, 1912

Erik Christiansen, PhD, Rhode Island College