Fort Devens Museum program tells story of Civil War regiment that trained locally
POSTED: 10/10/2015 08:08:40 AM EDT
DEVENS — Did you know that an infantry regiment of about 1,000 men trained at what was once called Groton Junction, now Ayer, and fought in the Civil War with the Union’s Third Army to clear Confederate troops out of the Mississippi River basin in Louisiana? To find out about this regiment, the 53rd Massachusetts Volunteers, who trained at Camp Stevens, come to the Fort Devens Museum on Oct. 17.
Many of the men of the 53rd were recruited from local communities — Ashby, Fitchburg, Groton, Harvard, Lancaster, Leominster, Lunenburg, Pepperell, Townsend, and Westford — in addition to a large number from towns west as far as Gardner, south to Sterling and Clinton, and a few from the Boston area.
Camp Stevens was located on a wedge of land bounded by Old Fitchburg Road (near a reconfigured present-day Fitchburg Road, Route 2A), the Nashua River, and the tracks of the old Peterborough and Shirley Railroad (which extended only as far as Greenville, New Hampshire, from Ayer). The camp, named after Major General Isaac Ingalls Stevens of Andover, who died in a Civil War battle in Virginia, was also located next to what would later become the Fort Devens airfield.