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11th Vermont Infantry (aka First Heavy Artillery, Vermont Volunteers)

Martin and President Lincoln

On June 23, 1864, George Emery of Irasburg, VT, a private in Company F, 11th Regiment of Vermont Volunteers (lst Heavy Artillery) was captured at the Weldon Railroad near Petersburg, VA. He was sent to Andersonville along with many other Vermonters captured that day, and he died there on September 15.

Before being sent into battle, Emery had been stationed at Fort Slocum defending the northern perimeter of the District of Columbia. This was essentially garrison duty and his family (he was a 35-year-old married man with six children) was permitted to live nearby. Family tradition says that his five-year-old son Martin encountered Abraham Lincoln in the capital one day during the summer of 1864. Lincoln asked why the boy looked so sad and sympathized when Martin explained his dad's plight. The boy in turn asked why Lincoln seemed in so much discomfort and Lincoln explained that there was a nail in his shoe. Martin at once fixed the defective shoe, for, as he told Lincoln, his father had been a cobbler in civilian life and had taught the boy some tricks of the trade.

This charming anecdote was picked up decades later by a children's writer, Catherine Cate Coblentz (herself a Vermonter, from Hardwick). She put it in a children's story called *Martin and Abraham Lincoln,* published by Children's Press in 1947. In 1976 her story was retold as part of an educational TV series in American history for grade-school children produced by the Ohio State Department of Education. As Coblentz said, this "true incident" was the kind of historical story she liked, because knowing "the people and problems of yesterday" helps one to know "the people of today," and might "aid in solving the problems of tomorrow."

Source: This is a synopsis of a forthcoming magazine article about Martin Emery written by, and courtesy of Dr. Michael Stanton, professor emeritus, University of Vermont.