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Brown, Stephen Flavius
Age: 21, credited to Swanton, VT
Unit(s): 13th VT INF, 17th VT INF
Service: comn 1LT, Co. K, 13th VT INF, 9/11/62 (10/4/62), m/o 7/21/63; com, CPT, Co. A, 17th VT INF, 11/11/63 (4/17/64), wdd, Wilderness, 5/6/64, dis/wds 8/22/64 [College: UVM 66]
See Legend for expansion of abbreviationsVITALS
Birth: 04/04/1841, Swanton, VT
Burial: Church Street Cemetery, Swanton, VT
Marker/Plot: Not recorded
Gravestone photographer: Tom Ledoux
Findagrave Memorial #: 13902779
Alias?: None noted
Pension?: Yes, 8/24/1864; widow Mary A. McD. Brown, 1/24/1917, VT
Portrait?: VHS Collections, USAHEC off-site, 13th History
College?: UVM 66
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: more off-site
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Church Street Cemetery, Swanton, VT
Check the cemetery for location/directions and other veterans who may be buried there.
Capt. George G. Blake, Lieut. Stephen F. Brown, Lieut. Carmi L. Marsh, Co. K, 1904(Sturtevant's Pictorial History, Thirteenth Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, War of 1861-1865)
FIRST LIEUTENANT STEPHEN F. BROWN First Lieutenant Stephen F. Brown of Company K, was in many respects quite a precocious boy and young man, a brilliant scholar, applying himself at all times with zeal and determination when at school, and every leisure moment while at home on the farm, to acquire knowledge. He was a teacher at the age of sixteen years in a district school of his native town. In the fall of 1860, the writer first met him as a student at Bakersfield Academy. He was then eighteen, past, but looked and appeared much older. Was here preparing for college and ten to fifteen hours each day did he toil with Greek and Latin and other textbooks to reach the goal of his ambition. His father and mother were devoted Christians and prominent and leading members of the Methodist Church at Swanton, and therefore, Lieutenant Brown in early life was surrounded by exceptional advantages for acquisition of knowledge, moral and technical.
He was born and raised as a genuine patriot, confirmed in the belief that there was no country or land like his. Only a mere circumstance prevented him from volunteering into Company A, First Vermont Regiment under the first call made by President Lincoln for troops. He was anxious to go, and so was his father, but only one could be spared very well from the farm. His father was forty-four years of age, and his son, afterward Lieutenant Brown, nineteen, and both were anxious to join the Green Mountain Guards and go to the front, but finally agreed that one should go and the other remain to carry on the farm. The father, in order to amicably settle the question, as to which should go, proposed the old arbitrary custom of drawing cuts, and the one who drew the longest to remain at home and the shortest to go. The wife and mother like a true Spartan, said, (with an aching heart for she would not decide between husband and son), "now, the one that draws long to remain; and the one short to go." The mother prepared the sticks and held them firmly grasped and securely guarded so neither could detect one from the other, and the father drew first and won, and volunteered, and the son though sadly disappointed, cheerfully acquiesced in the result and manfully managed the farm until his father returned.
Within thirty days after his father's return home he enrolled under recruiting officer George P. Conger, of St. Albans, expecting then to serve in the First Regiment, Vermont Cavalry, but on account of an injury to the back in early life, was advised by the family physician that he was disqualified for service as a cavalryman, and therefore was not mustered in with this regiment.
The next year In August, 1862, Lieutenant Brown realizing the urgency for troops, and not satisfied to defer longer his cherished desire, and becoming seriously impressed with duty to country, again volunteered, and this time to go into the infantry branch of the service. He with Captain Blake was given authority by the selectmen of their town to raise recruits to fill the quota of the town under the call of August 4th for 300,000 volunteers. Brown and Blake volunteered at a public meeting, and was then and there supplied with recruiting papers and at once started out to raise the company, and in a few days, more than enough had enrolled to avoid a draft in their town. Brown in this as in all matters was energetic, and secured many school mates and friends of good standing to go with him. He was not one of that class usually called "a hail fellow well met," and yet always kind and generous, very friendly to every one, and would shake hands as often as he met you, and yet his appearance was reserved and therefore some were led to think that he felt above the boys of his company, which was not true, but these were first impressions and all soon discovered that Lieutenant Brown conversed and mingled freely with all, especially the more humble born and ignorant of his company.
Brown felt that he was entitled to be advanced to the captaincy of Company K, when Captain Clark was promoted to Major of the Regiment, but no one, unless some very intimate friend, ever heard a word of criticism fall from his lips concerning it.
He sincerely believed in the principle of majority rule and manfully discharged his full duty in whatever capacity assigned him. He was ever loyal, kind and condescending to his superiors in office and never manifested revenge, jealousy or ill-will toward any in his company or regiment. He entered into military life with his whole heart and gave his undivided attention to the end of rendering the best possible service to his country. He would cheerfully divide his last cent or ration of food with any of the boys of his company, and would freely stretch forth his hand at any time to assist and serve the most lowly of his comrades regardless of time and effort. At all times day or night he could be found in his place ready for duty.
The boys did not at all times take kindly to every idiosyncrasy manifested or suggested by him, and sometimes failed to accord to him the courtesy he deserved. He visited the sick in camp or at the hospital almost daily, looking after their wants and care, and with his ever present supply of quaint and funny stories endeavored to encourage and cheer. The despondent, the sick, the unfortunate, the more ignorant, and the homesick ones he sympathized with, and such were his ardent admirers. Likely no officer in the regiment would make so great a ijersonal sacrifice as he, to accommodate or do a favor, regardless of rank or title. He was always with his company and regiment, alert and anxious concerning the wants and comforts of those of his company, especially, (and sometimes at great risk of life and sacrifice of official position) as will appear in a biographical sketch of him in another part of this book.
While I personally knew he was apprehensive of death every moment in battle, yet no one showed less fear or acted more bravely. He had perfect command over himself and moved about as if no accident could befall him. It was my privilege during that great battle of Gettysburg to see but few whose appearance commanded my admiration like that of Lieutenant Brown. On this bloody field he illustrated again and again those great and noble qualities, absolutely essential in a soldier, whether an officer or a private.
His conduct as an officer of the Line in the loth Regiment was highly honorable and creditable. He was a valiant soldier and conscientiously discharged every duty. A biographical and genealogical sketch of Captain Brown will be found on page See Roster of this book, which will speak of him in civil life as well as military.
Source: Sturtevant's Pictorial History, Thirteenth Regiment, Vermont Volunteers, War of 1861-1865, p. 697
Brown, Capt. Stephen F., who was born in Swanton, April 4, 1841, is the only survivor of three children of Samuel G. and Anna (Crawford) Brown. The other children were a daughter, who died young, and Samuel G., Jr., who was first lieutenant of Company A, Seventeenth Vermont Regiment, and died from injuries received at the battle of the Wilderness. Capt. Stephen F. Brown's maternal grandfather was with General Washington at Valley Forge during the Revolution. His primary education was obtained in the schools of his native town, and he afterwards attended the spring and fall terms of the academy at Swanton Falls. In winters he taught school, and worked on a farm during the summer months. He thus successfully fitted himself for college, and in the fall of 1862 passed an examination for admission to the University of Vermont. Instead of pursuing his collegiate course of study, however, he enlisted in Company K, Thirteenth Vermont Infantry, as a private, but was elected first lieutenant of that company. The Thirteenth was a nine months' regiment, and was part of the Second Vermont Brigade, which was commanded by General Stannard at Gettysburg. This brigade was in the front and center of the battle line and rendered distinguished service, especially in the closing conflict, against which the rebel general Picket on the afternoon of the third and last day made the last and most desperate charge of the enemy, but they were met by the Second Vermont Brigade on the open plain between the battle lines in a hand to hand encounter. Here Captain Brown, undaunted by previous loss of his sword on the march, went into the battle with a common camp hatchet and was among the first to meet the advancing charge. With hatchet up lifted in one hand he seized a rebel officer wit the other, demanded his surrender, and at once relieved him of his sword and pistol, and putting them on his own person, wore them until discharged. He still retains them as mementos of personal experience at Gettysburg, where none but the bravest would withstand the fearful charge.
The historial [sic] in the second volume, page 478, of "Vermont in the Civil War" makes favorable mention of Captain Brown as a soldier and officer. A few years ago he was presented with an elegant and valuable gold medal for distinguished bravery at Gettysburg. The writer (R. O. Sturtevant) was an eye-witness to the facts here stated.
Captain Brown was injured on the head at Gettysburg by a concussion from the explosion of a shell while in the act of aiding one of his mortally wounded men, Corporal William Church. A rebel battery swept the crest of a ridge over which the brigade had to march by flank back to position after the charge. The range was good and every shell exploded in the marching ranks with loss of dead and wounded. It was here that corporal William Church, of company K, Thirteenth Vermont Regiment, was slain. Captain Brown, observing Corporal Church as he fell, hastened to his aid and found one leg shot away above the knee. He procured a tourniquet and while endeavoring to stop the flow of blood another shell exploded so near above his head that the concussion came very near proving fatal. Though quite seriously injured he refused to go to the rear, saying to Surgeon Nichols that he would remain until the battle was over unless the regiment was ordered from the field.
He returned from the seat of war with his regiment, and was honorably discharged. Subsequently Vermont tried to raise another regiment from the veterans of the Second Vermont Brigade, and Captain Brown was commissioned recruiting officer for Northern Vermont. He raised accompany of 160 men, and was elected captain of Company A, Seventeenth Vermont Infantry. This regiment was organized in the spring of 1864, and immediately departed for the seat of war. They took part in the battle of the Wilderness, and on May 6, 1864, during that battle Captain Brown, having his left arm extended directing the movements of his men, was struck by a minie-ball, which entered at the shoulder and came out at the elbow. The arm had to be amputated, but owing to the excessive discharge of blood he completely recovered from the injury in the head received at Gettysburg. After his final muster out, and on recovering his health, Captain Brown entered the Albany Law University, where he graduated March 3, 1868. He was admitted to the bar and removed to Chicago, and with a capital of $25 commenced the practice of his profession.
In pursuing the legal profession Captain Brown's courage has never faltered, and invention and enterprise have distinguished his career in Chicago. After the great fire nothing of his law office remained but the key. He rented an office on the corn of Desplains and West Madison streets, in which the landlord generously left a pine table and upon it a copy of the New Testament. The captain was scarcely seated in his new office when a collecting agent came to consult him. The agent had in his possession $100 belonging to one of his principals, which he desired to keep for a while until the banks re-opened, but his principals threatened to cause his arrest if he did so. The captain stated to his client that he had the latest law on the subject in question, and taking the testament read to him from Matthew 5:25, "Agree with thine adversary quickly," etc. That settled the case.
It would be impossible in the compass of this work to cite the different and important cases in which he has been retained as counsel. He has successfully met his legal brethren in the different courts of Chicago and the state of Illinois, and has had in two noteworthy cases such opposing attorneys as M. W. Fuller, esq.. (now chief justice of the United States) and Hon. Robert T. Lincoln (the present minister to the court of St. James). These were Biggs vs. Clupp and Girrard vs. Guetiau, and were carried to the courts of city and state, and in them Captain Brown was successful. He has accumulated a handsome fortune, the results mainly of his law practice. He has for years spent his court vacations with his aged parents in Swanton. Owing to illness of his father (whose death occurred in 1891) he has for the last few years been obliged to relinquish his business in Chicago and, like a dutiful son, devote all his time to the comfort and happiness of those who by their care and attention in his youth prepared him to engage successfully in the battle of life.
Source: Lewis Cass Aldrich, "History of Franklin and Grand Isle Counties Vermont," (D. Mason & Co., Syracuse, NY, 1891), p. 705-9.
Death of Captain Brown
Capt. Stephen F. Brown, a notable veteran of the civil war, suddenly died at his home in Swanton Sept. 8 of heart disease. He was born at Swanton in1841. Capt. Brown enlisted in Co. K of the 13th Vermont regiment. At Gettysburg, he was under arrest on a charge of disobedience and his sword had been taken from him. When a counter-charge was ordered against that Picket's, Capt. Brown seized a hatchet and went into the melee with his men. With this weapon he captured a confederate officer, retaining the latter's sword and pistol as trophies. During the battle, Brown was injured in the head by an exploding shell. He lost an arm in the battle of the Wilderness. After the war, he entered Albany law school and practiced in Chicago. Of late years he had been a farmer.
Source: St. Johnsbury Caledonian-Record, September 16, 1903
Contributed by Tom Boudreau.
Captain Stephen F. Brown
Man Who, Armed With a Hatched, Let Company K, 13th Vermont
in Battle of Gettysburg.
Captain Stephen F. Brown, 62, died of heart disease in Swanton Tuesday night of last week. He enlisted in Company K of the 13th Vermont Infantry as a private but was elected 1st Lieutenant. This regiment was part of Gen. Stannard's famous brigade at Gettysburg. At that time Capt. Brown was under arrest upon some formal charge of disobedience of orders not involving any moral culpability, and his sword had been surrendered according to military custom.. He could not be kept out of action, however, and in the counter-charge on Picket's brigade on the third day, he led his men, his only weapon being a common camp hatchet. He captured a Confederate officer, however, and retained the latter's sword and pistol as trophies. He was injured on the head from the explosion of a shell while aiding a wounded comrade. His exploit in leading his men with a hatchet is commemorated in a statue erected by the 13th Vermont on the field of Gettysburg.
After his term of enlistment had expired, he raised a company of 160 men and was elected captain of Company A, 17th Vermont Infantry. He was so badly wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg that amputation of one arm was necessary. After the war, he graduated from the Albany Law School, and for many years was a prominent lawyer in Chicago. He has been living quietly on a farm in Swanton for the past few years.
Source: News & Citizen: Sept. 6, 1903
Submitted by: Deanna French.
Webmaster's note: Brown eventually donated the captured sword to the Vermont Historical Society.