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Safford, Darius John


Age: 26, credited to Morristown, VT
Unit(s): 11th VT INF
Service: comn 1LT, Co. D, 11th VT INF, 8/12/62 (9/3/62), pr CPT, Co. L, 6/11/63 (7/17/63), pow, Weldon Railroad, 6/23/64, escaped, wdd, Winchester, 9/19/64, pr MAJ, 5/23/65 (6/2/65), pr LTC, 7/10/65 (7/26/65), m/o 8/25/65

See Legend for expansion of abbreviations


Birth: 09/06/1835, Fairfield, VT
Death: 08/06/1895

Burial: Riverside Cemetery, Morrisville, VT
Marker/Plot: 2
Gravestone photographer: Denis & Karen Jaquish
Findagrave Memorial #: 18479072


Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Yes, 6/28/1875
Portrait?: Italo Collection, David Morin Collection, VHS Collections, Legros Collection, Guber Collection off-site
College?: Not Found
Veterans Home?: Not Found
(If there are state digraphs above, this soldier spent some time in a state or national soldiers' home in that state after the war)

Remarks: None

Webmaster's Note: The 11th Vermont Infantry was also known as the 1st Vermont Heavy Artillery; the names were used interchangably for most of its career


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Riverside Cemetery, Morrisville, VT

Check the cemetery for location/directions and other veterans who may be buried there.


VHS - Reunion Society Collection


Ed Italo Collection

Photo Photo

John Legros Collection


Dave Morin Collection

Darius J. Safford

A correspondent of the "Newport News" writes as follows of matters in this regiment and of the sword presentation to Captain Safford.
"I must tell you that a few days since our company presented to Capt. D. J. Safford a beautiful sword, sash, and belt,as evidence of the respect and confidence which they feel for him as an officer and a gentleman. The whole cost about $140. The presentation speech, by your townsman, Sergeant Charles E. Merrill, was a model of brevity and happy choice of words --- that of Capt. Safford, in reply, in his own peculiar style. I regret that I cannot furnish verbatim copies, as I am sure they would interest your readers. Furthermore, it is not the first time we have raised money for the same purpose. While at Brattleboro about $80 were raised and paid into the hands of our Quartermaster Sergeant for this object. He was to procure one as we came thro’ New York, and we suppose he is looking for it, as we have looked in vain for him --- or the money --- since. If the amount of money raised can be taken as any index of the esteem in which the captain his held by his command, I am sure he cannot feel otherwise than highly flattered by this testimonial.
The inscription engraved on the scabbard reads thus: “ Presented to Capt. D. J. Safford, Battery L., 1st Art., 11th Vt. Vols., by members of his Battery, Sept. 26,1863.”
On the same day the members of Battery H. presented Lieut. J.R. Maxham with a handsome sword valued at $80, in style very similar to the one above mentioned. This, I am told, is the fourth presentation made by that company to its several officers.
By the way, an amusing incident occurred in connection with the passing of our Battery through Greenfield, Mass. As the company was without arms, we had been annoyed by hearing the them “conscripts”, applied to us. While at the same place we were obliged to leave the cars and march some distance to another train, and, in answer to some remarks of this kind, one of the company retorted by saying, that so far as being conscripts, we had before in the service ( as many of us had) and had been guarding conscripts at Brattleboro.
A Greenfield paper contained substantially the following announcement:
Battery L., 11th Vermont Regiment, commanded by Captain Safford, passed through this place yesterday, en route for Washington. This is not a company of raw recruits, but has been through the campaign on the Peninsula, and was sent home to recruit its thinned ranks’ &c. This was highly relished by the boys, and “ How are you Peninsula ?” became a by-word.
I believe the Regiment is in usual health. None of our company are dangerously sick. The principal employment at present is fatigue duty in the rifle-pits and on the barracks. The drills are suspended; meantime, as well as 2 o'clock roll call. We are very anxious to be drilling as we are supposed to appear on all regimental reviews, inspection, &c.

Lamoille Newsdealer: August 3, 1864

Capt. D. J. Safford, of Co. L, 11th Vt., who, with others, were taken prisoner on the 23rd of June last, escaped from the rebels, who were taking him south to Macon, Ga., on the 1st of July, and reached Washington on the 28th, and got leave of absence for 20 days, and arrived home, in Cambridge, on the 31st. He gave us a call on Monday, while on his way to see his friends in Morrisville.
The railroad south of Richmond being destroyed by our forces, the prisoners to be sent to Georgia were taken a short distance west, on the Lynchburg road, and then marched across the country to reach the road running south, the Richmond and Weldon road. On this march, Capt. Safford, with 1st Lieut. E. F. Griswold, of Co. L, from St. Johnsbury, and 2nd Lieut. A.G. Fleury, Co. K. of Isle LaMotte, managed to slip away from the guard, which consisted of that kind of troops called reserves, made up of old men and boys. They had just crossed Staunton River, one of the tributaries of the Roanoke, and were resting for a short time. The guards as well as the prisoners were very much fatigued--the guards especially being in no condition for very active operations. The Capt. took a cup and pretended to go after water, but managed to step behind some bushes, wade the river, and hide on the opposite side.
Being out of immediate control of their captors, the next move to be considered was how to reach friendly forces, and not wishing to incur the risk of capture in the direction of Petersburgh, and expecting to find Union troops in Lewisburgh, in Western Virginia, they started in that direction across the Alleghany Mountains.
At Millboro, amoung the mountains, on the 16th, they were seen by some Confederate soldiers acting as provost guard, and fired upon. They immediately separated, each one to take care of himself, and Capt. Safford has not seen his company since. Lieut. Fleury, however, he learned got into our lines the day before himself. Lieut. Griswold, he learned from some of the citizens, was not wounded, as they had seen some of the guard, who said they fired upon some Yankees, but did not hit or capture any of them. Safford first reached our lines at Beverly Court House, in Randolph County, on the 23rd. Communications with Washington by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad being interrupted, he kept on in a northerly direction till he struck the Pennsylvania Railroad, and proceeded to Washington by way of Harrisburg and Philadelphia, reaching Washington on the 28th.
The Capt. was in the hands of the rebels eight days. While at Richmond he was quartered at Libby Prison. His dailey ration consisted of a piece of bread about two inches square by four in length, a piece of bacon about a big as two fingers, and a third of a cup of bean soup--just enough to keep soul and body together. Others, he learned, had the same fare.
Through the rebel country he passed, he did not see an able bodied man under fifty-five years of age, nor a boy over sixteen. He inquired where the men were, and was told they were in the army. Among the mountains he saw a great many deserters. They skulk about, and live upon a little corn meal which they manage to get from their families, which usually live in the neighborhood, and what game they can shoot. He came across some union people, but they were obliged to keep still, though hoping the rebellion will be subdued before long. The people are generally tired of the war, and willing to have it ended on any terms.
Agents of the Confederate Government had been in that part of the country, actually begging of the people to contribute as they were able, to the support of the army, asking them to give a little if they could, do more, as the soldiers must have food, or they would starve. He saw appeals to the same effect in the papers of the section. Judging from what he saw and heard, , he don't believe that to save their souls, the leaders of the rebellion could get 50, 000 more men in the whole of rebeldom. He never felt so hopeful of the success of union arms before .
Speaking of the deserters in the mountains, he learned that at one time a large force was sent to bring them in, but they could not be found. A small force was afterwards sent out, and it was used up and driven back in a very short time,
The captain looks thin, but says he feels first rate.

Capt. Safford gives us some account of the fight at Cold Harbor, on the 1st of June last, in which the 11th Reg., under Lieut. Col. Benton, of this place took an active part. He speaks of only one battalion as participating. At this time in the absence of Col. Warner, Lieut. Col. Benton had command of the regiment., Major Fleming, under Col. Benton, of the charging battalion. The Colonel being present when the order to charge was given, assumed command, and ordered them forward, going with them himself. The battery on which they were to charge had been attempted before, by other troops, over the same ground, without success, and it was known to be a desperate job, but they pressed forward ‘till about one-third of the men had fallen, a single discharge of canister taking from Safford’s company fifteen men, two of whom had legs shot off, and one an arm. The Colonel then ordered a halt, but the men were so eager to finish the work undertaken that they did not heed the command, and it was repeated, the Col (sometimes not very guarded in his language) saying in a stentorian voice, “ God Almighty! Halt! They were then taken behind a low ridge close by, when, by lying flat on their faces, they were sheltered from the rebel fire, and here they remained ‘till dark, when they were taken back, one or two at a time, to a safe distance from the rebel lines The Captain says that he or Major Fleming had command, they should probably have been foolish enough to have pushed the charge as far as they could; and give the Col credit for great presence of mind and good judgment in ordering a halt. Though the 11th belongs to the 1st Vt. Brigade, and is under Gen L.A. Grant, this battlion was under Gen. Russell, and by him the charge was ordered. Gen. Grant, however, in a letter to his brother, an extract from which was recently published in the “Bellows Falls Times”, says of the conduct of Major Fleming, second in command on that day; “ At the Battle of Cold Harbor, on June 1st, he led his command most gallantly, charging up near to the enemy’s works under terrible fire and quite in advance of other’s. His conduct received high commendation”. If the second in command was highly commended, of course, the first in command, since he directed all the movements, acted no less worthily. We are glad to have an opportunity to give a friend his due by giving these statements to the public.

(A friend in Cambridge sends us the following which was addressed to him.)
APRIL 23, 1865
I am sitting quietly, not under my own vine, and fig tree, but on my own blanket in camp, without thinking perhaps the next instant I shall be aroused by the shriek of shell or the whistle of the bullet, and I assure you I find a great deal of comfort in this feeling of security. --- a feeling I have not felt before, except while at home, since May 1st, 1864, when I joined the Army of the Potomac. I care not how much bravery a man may possess (by the way I do not lay claim to any more than is required myself) it is by no means pleasant to think every night when you go to sleep that you may awake only to go late battle, and every morning that before night, the very ground you stand upon may be red with human blood --- possibly your own. But now, all that is past, and it is very pleasant to feel secure, and think there are no other battles to be fought, no more precious blood to be shed upon the altar of our country to preserve her for the glorious future that's in my minds eye, I see slowly rising from the chaos of war and bloodshed.
I cannot tell you anything new, probably of the events which have transpired since March 25th, when we had our first engagement in this campaign.
As you see in the daily papers, and they have much more voluminous accounts that it would be possible for me to give in an ordinary letter, so I will only say I tried as best I could to do my duty all through and have been spared without a scratch. Three of my brave men have given their lives to sustain the cause, four have been wounded, including Lt. Macomber, and three taken prisoners.
April 2d was a glorious day, but no one that did not expect to face the storm of leaden hail we expected to meet, can realize the terrible anxiety of those hours of waiting from twelve at night 'till the gray of the morning, when we advanced. The night was cold and ground wet from recent rains, but we were obliged to lay very close almost all the time, as the picket firing commenced very soon after we got into position and a perfect "fue de eufer" was kept up with very little loss on either side, probably, but with the intention of keeping the enemy occupied so they could not ascertain our position, and in that I think we succeeded admirably.
I have omitted to mention the terrible cannonading which was maintained from 10 to 1 o'clock along the entire line --- every battery taking part. We had in our corps twelve four-gun batteries, and all were as busy as could be, and so with those of the 2d and 9thcorps. I have never seen so many shells in the air at one time as then. Being quite dark they could be seen very distinctly describing their brilliant and terrible curves --- especially those of the shells from the mortars.
I think not less than 200 guns and mortars were in use that night on our side alone; some of these were responded to, but not many of them, as all through the campaign they have been very careful of wasting artillery ammunition, indicating quite clearly that they had not a great amount in excess of what might be actually needed.
Well, after waiting 'till near 5 o'clock, when the signal, a gun from Fort Fisher, came and the orders for advance were given, and on we went 'till we came to the breastworks occupied by our picket where we received the fire of the enemy's picket and then for a moment I thought the whole movement would be a failure, for the officers and men all dreaded the attack for several reasons first, it was so nearly dark we could not see where we were going; next, immediately in front of our Brigade were two batteries whose fire we expected any moment to receive; thirdly, there were two lines of abattis which looked from a distance to be very formidable although not really so when we got to them; fourthly, were the breastworks which were of considerable strength; and for the 5th reason and the strongest one of them all, we expected to find them completely lined with men ready to deal death and destruction to us. For these reasons, for a very few moments, many of the men stopped and refused to advance, the officers with a very few exceptions, did their duty well. One in our company will be court-martialed, and I guess, dismissed.
The first advance failed for these reasons, but the men did not fall back but halted, and the officers busied themselves in getting the delinquents to the front, which was soon done and a second advance ordered- perhaps a continuance of the first --- and the works were carried with much less than we anticipated.
Our fire it seems had distracted them so that they had drawn troops off from the very place to reinforce other portions of the line where we first crossed. We advanced half a mile and then wheeled to the left and swept the right of the rebel line 'till we reached Hatcher's Run, capturing camps, prisoners, artillery. Some of the camps were deserted so hastily that the men did not have time to fully dress themselves, and some food was found ready for eating, some cooking, and other evidence of hasty evacuation of places where they had made every calculation to hold it in spite of the Yanks. After going to the rebel right we turned and started for their left. Here we met more resistance but we pushed them steadily on 'till within a mile of the city when night overtook us and we halted, intending to complete the good work on the morrow, but the morrow found no enemy oppose our troops either at Petersburg or Richmond.
I went into town and saw the place of my confinement, where I slept the first night, where I was marched through the streets of the then defiant city, now humbled before the the power they so hated and despised.
The town did not show to me much signs of destruction said to have been caused by our shells. I do not think shells fired at so great a distance very destructive unless fired from heavy rifled guns.
There are so many strange sites to see in the city, not the least of them being the rejoicing of the colored population and their great delight in seeing the colored troops marching through the city.
I conversed with some very intelligent people in the city and the general impression seemed to be that of relief at the end of the struggle for the city, and the hope the war would soon be over. They also expressed much surprise that our soldiers did not commit more depredations in the town, saying that with the exception of tobacco, they did not seem at all disposed to rob and plunder as they had been told many times we would.
When I returned to the Regiment or to the place where the Regiment was when I went to the city, it had left to pursue the flying foe; so I pushed on and soon overtook the column, which from that time 'till the final surrender of Lee, pressed the rebels so fiercely. It was one of the most sever marches I ever saw, and tired the endurance of the men to the utmost, and if they had not been flushed and excited with victory, I hardly they could have gone through with it. But as it was, they would cheer every day when the bands would play or any General Officer go by, as though they were crazy.
When the glorious news of the surrender came I thought we should all loose what little sense we had left. Officers and men cheered themselves hoarse, and those whose ideas was in whiskey channel drunk themselves near intoxication, if they had any whiskey, which they had hard work to get, by the way.
On our way out we saw General Custer's Division of Sheridan's Cavalry, they had thirty rebel flags captured by the division in the present campaign. Some of these are very nice ones, and some very pure in quality and design.
Our corps captured twenty, and two guidons, from April 2d to April 10th, and they were presented to General Meade the other day. I was present and heard the General's reply, for which he said that, "While he did not wish to make invidious distinctions so as to create hard feelings, he could not help saying in justice to the 1st corps, that in his opinion it was our corps who made the decisive movement which gave us the glorious success of Sunday, April 2d, and was the initial movement which resulted in the capture of the Army of Northern Virginia".
Some of the country in this section is of very fair quality, but a great portion is very poor. Farmville was quite a pleasant place before the war, of some three-thousand inhabitants. It is the only fair looking place, except Petersburg, that I have seen in this portion of Virginia. In the valley, Harrisburg was more flourishing.
I was at the Junction near here a few days since and counted there 110 pieces of captured artillery. That did not include that that surrendered by Gen. Lee at Appomattox Court House, or taken April 2d; among them were five splendid Armstrong rifles. The guns had the stamp "Sir W.C. Armstrong & Co." on them, and could not have been obtained without the concurrence of the English Government, as none are disposed of without their consent. Two or three were mounted on the Armstrong carriage with all the approved appliances, the others were mounted on carriages made at the Richmond Arsenal.
The army was completely thunder-struck by the news received by Military Telegraph on the 15th, that Mr. Lincoln had been assassinated, we could hardly believe it, substantiated as it was by the authority of the official source and when the second dispatch came announcing his death, great anxiety and determination to make the enemy rue it if ever we had to face them again was unanimous. This army looked upon him as we look upon a father, and no General however popular ever had so strong a hold upon our feelings as the President. We felt as though our work was almost done, his had just begun. But the Almighty saw fit to allow him to be removed from this world of spirits. It cannot be denied, that our anxiety was much increased by fearing that Mr. Johnson would not make good the vacant place more on account of his habits than anything else. But since his accession, he seems to do well and trust may continue to do. One thing, I think, is pretty evident in the present aspect of the national affairs, the South will not have gained anything, in the line of mercy by the change. Some people were no doubt were much grieved that the President was killed at a theater, but it has no weight with me, as I well know that his mind needed relaxation, and must have it too, and such a piece as was acted there is well calculated to give it.
Yours &c.
Capt. Darius J. Safford


NEWS & CITIZEN: August.8, 1895
The long weeks and months of suffering that our respected townsman Colonel Safford has so patiently passed, came to an end on Monday night a few minutes past midnight, when the long anticipated culmination of his illness was realized and he passed peacefully away.
No one who, in the past few weeks has gone to the sick room of Colonel Safford, has been otherwise impressed than with the fact that they had grasped the hand of a strong man --- in his feebleness making a strong battle for life -- and yet calmly and cheerfully facing the inevitable end. His last days were days of intense suffering, and he longed for deliverance that has finally come. The long history of his illness from Minneapolis though, needs no repetition.
Colonel Safford was born in Fairfield, Franklin County, Vermont, Sept. 8, 1835. Following a short period of school life there, he came to Morrisville to live in April, 1857, having the previous day married Miss Susan E. Harvey, of Cambridge, who died here several years since. Until his appointment to the position of Special Examiner of the Pension Department, he has lived here, with the exception of the years of the war.
As a citizen, among his fellow townsman, he had lived a life above reproach, winning the esteem and respect of all who knew him, having that hearty, cordial open-handed nature that drew about him a large circle of friends, at home and abroad; friends who recognized him as an honest upright Christian gentleman. He had a long time been a member of the Congregational Church, and generous to its support; had identified himself with all the best interests of his community.
Of Col. Safford's military record and service, not much need to be said beyond the plain facts of his patriotic part in the War of the Rebellion, a record of service to his country, of which no better words can be used than to simply say that he was in every spot and place an ideal type of the American citizen soldier, doing his duty with an unflinching courage and resolute purpose.
He first enlisted in the service in the old Morrisville House, in this village, July 12, 1862, as a private in Company D, Eleventh Vermont Infantry; was elected First Lieutenant upon the organization of the company, August 11 following; was transferred to Company L, being elected Captain of that company July 7, 1863, and afterwards to field and staff duty, being appointed Major May 24,1865, and discharged from the service with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel September 21 following. He participated in the battles of Spotsylvania, Cold harbor, Weldon Railroad, Berryville (reconnoisance), Winchester, Fisher's Hill' Cedar Creek, Sailor's Creek, and in many skirmishes. He was wounded slightly in the left side at Winchester, and taken prisoner at Weldon Railroad, Va., June 23, 1864, and confined at Libby Prison, making his escape by a bold dash while being transferred to Danville, Va., passed through many hardships in attempting to reach Union Lines, and came out of a tramp of 450 miles through a hostile country barely a shadow of his former self.
The boys who touched shoulders with him in the ranks --- the rank and file of troops --- who from his occasional outward appearance of sternness might have at first considered him an unfeeling comrade or officer, found in him a warm friend --- a rough exterior covering the heart of a woman in tenderness.
His practical knowledge of the milling business served him well in a time of need in the army, which he righted up and abandoned mill and set it to grinding corn for the Northern troops.
Col. Safford joined Mount Vernon Lodge, No. 8, F & A.M. in 1857, and was one of the charter members of Tucker Chapter No. 15, R.A.M. of this place, and had always continued connection with both. He was also a Knight Templar, joining the St. Johnsbury Commandery in 1884, and a member of the Maine Commandery Loyal Legion.
He was a charter member of James M. Warner Post No. 4, G.A.R., both in its original body and after the re-organization, and held the various offices of that order.
With the exception of an intermission of two years or so, he had for the past twelve years been much of the time away from here, engaged in his special pension work for the United States Government, having been stationed in Maine, New Hampshire, Washington, Iowa and Minnesota.
The funeral services will be held at 1 o'clock tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon in the Congregational Church. It is expected that his former pastor, Rev. V.M. Hardy of Randolph will officiate, assisted by G.N. Kellogg, the present pastor. The deceased had made all arrangements or plans for the funeral, and at his request the bearers will be made up of two members each from the church, the Masons, The G.A.R. and the Loyal Legion. He will be buried with combined Masonic and Grand Army honors, but more especially in charge of the Masonic bodies.

Submitted by Deanna French.