Sumner H Needham

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War

Photos from the Past

Sumner Henry Needham

Sumner Henry Needham was born in Bethel, Maine, on March 2, 1828, and moved to Lawrence, Massachusetts, around 1849. Around 1856, he enlisted in the Lawrence Light Infantry, Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. His civilian occupation was lather (he placed laths for plaster). On January 1, 1857, he married Hannah M. Johnson. At the outbreak of the Civil War, he was a Corporal in his company, and he and his company (Company I, Sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry) enlisted for national service on April 15, 1861. The regiment proceeded toward Washington, D.C., but on April 19, they encountered a mob in Baltimore, Maryland. A riot broke out, and when Corporal Needham got out of the train, he had a premonition of his death. He told Private James S. Knights: We shall have trouble to-day, and I shall never get out of it alive. Promise me, if I fall, that my body shall be sent home. Private Knights assured his friend that whoever suffered would be well looked after. Corporal Needham was mortally wounded there, and was conveyed to the Infirmary, where he died on April 27, at age 33. On May 2, 1861, the bodies of Corporal Needham and Privates Luther C. Ladd and Addison O. Whitney reached Boston. On the 3d of May, the body of Needham was conveyed to Lawrence by a Committee of the City Government, and placed in the City Hall, where it was appropriately draped; the seats were filled; and every inch of standing room was occupied. Seven Protestant ministers participated in his funeral. A large, beautiful granite monument in his memory stands above his remains at Bellevue Cemetery in Lawrence. Needham left his wife and, very probably did not know, she was pregnant. On December 19, 1861, she gave birth to their only child, a son, whom she named for him. Photograph and information submitted by Leon Basile.

Sources: Historical Sketch of the Old Sixth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers... by John W. Hanson (Boston, 1866), frontispiece and pp. 49-52; Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, Adjutant General of Massachusetts, 9 vols. (Norwood, Mass., 1931-37), 1: 391; Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910, Vol. 109, p. 217 and Vol. 141, p. 266.

Sumner Henry Needham