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Bill Thayer

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The text that follows is reproduced from (the report of the) Fourth Annual Reunion of the Association of the Graduates of the United States Military Academy, June 12, 1873.

 p9  Franklin Yeaton
No. 2294 — Class of 1869.
Died August 17, 1872, at Naples, Maine, aged 24.

Captain Franklin Yeaton was born at Milltown, St. Stephen, New Brunswick, on the 14th of June, 1848, and began his military career in June, 1865, when he reported as a cadet at the Military Academy, having received his appointment from Maine, where for many years he had resided. He graduated in June, 1869, and at the close of his graduating leave of absence joined his regiment, the Third Cavalry, at Fort Stanton, New Mexico. Here he distinguished himself more than once by his behavior in the field against the Mescalero Apaches. In a fight with this tribe on the 26th of December, 1869, he was severely wounded by a rifle ball, which passing through his left wrist entered his right side, where it remained until his death; all efforts of the surgeons to find it being in vain. When able to move he came North on sick leave, from which he never returned to his regiment, dying at the residence of his relatives in Naples, Maine, on the 17th of August, 1872, having been retired, 'on account of wounds received in the line of duty,' with the full rank of Captain mounted, on November 14th, 1871.

His life was all too short to fulfil the brilliant promises that his earlier days so fully pictured forth. Cool, intelligent and daring, the service sustained in him a severe loss, and those of us who knew him personally as a cadet and officer feel that his death has left a blank in our circle that no one else can fill.

His quick mind and genial humor were well supplemented by his ready pencil, and hardly one of his classmates or friends but possesses some trifle, some sketch or little poem, to aid memory in recalling one whom we all held so dear. He made friends wherever he went, and of enemies had none.

General Orders No. 54 from the Headquarters, Department of the Missouri, of December 15th, 1869, in speaking of his first fight speaks of his gallantry, skill and perseverance; and his commanding officer, First Lieutenant H. B. Cushing, Third Cavalry, in his report of the same action commends him for coolness and gallantry. He was also highly complimented for the action in which he received the wound which finally killed him, but the official records make no mention of the patience with which he endured his suffering, after receiving his wound and during the long and painful journey back from the scene of  p10 action to his post. They speak not of his bravery in bearing his sufferings uncomplainingly up to the day of his death. Only those of us who knew him well can speak of that; and we know what in his death the service has lost an ornament it could ill afford to lose, the country has lost a devoted son, and Alma Mater one whose deeds, had fate not cut his young life short, would have lent new lustre to gild her old gray walls.

Kind friend, true man, gallant soldier! rest well! Light lie the sod above your head! Green grow the grass above you! and may the Master for your many virtues grant you free pardon for your few sins! Rest well until the Heavenly bugles shall sound the last Assembly, and for epitaph what more fitting for you than the words,

"His life was gentle, and the elements so mixed in him,

That Nature might stand up and say to all the world,

This was a man."

(Lieutenant Indicates a West Point graduate and gives his Class.D. M. Taylor, U. S. A.)

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Page updated: 17 Jan 14