George Henry Marshall Civil War cane

In 2003, I was contacted by a gentleman who had in his possession a gold handled cane dated 1904, which he explained in his first e-mail he had no interest in keeping. At the time I suggested that the owner consider selling it on eBay, or perhaps through an auction house. I also expressed an interest. I asked him for a description and his second e-mail included cane details:

It is 34″ in length, has a 1-3/4″ round by 2-1/2″ long gold head on it. The shaft is black in color and has some kind of metal perhaps bottom on it. The gold top has initials engraved on it. I also have a letter stating it was a present because a Mr. Draper was too busy to attend a wedding anniversary and sent the cane in its place. It’s printed on Draper Company letterhead from Hopedale, MA, dated October 3, 1904. I believe that Mr. Draper was some kind of general perhaps in civil war?? I have attached some pictures of the cane.

The pictures revealed a beautiful gold handled cane with ebonized shaft and two part metal ferrule. The top of the handle was inscribed with the initials “GHM.”

Further correspondence revealed that the cane had been passed down through descendants of the George H. Marshall family.

My offer for the cane was accepted, and I received the cane, along with a letter written on Draper Company letterhead, Hopedale, Mass., dated October 3, 1904. The letter was addressed to George H. Marshall, Esq., 15 Wood St., Woodville, Mass. and reads:

My Dear Comrade:

I have waited in acknowledging the invitation to the fiftieth anniversary of your marriage to be certain whether I should be able to be present. So much, however, including Senator Hoar’s funeral and the Republican State Convention, is occupying my attention this week, that I feel unable to go. I however send you a souvenir that I hope you will find a satisfactory prop for your declining years.

Sincerely yours,

William F. Draper

George Henry Marshall and William Franklin Draper were, in fact, “comrades” in the Civil War as both served in the 25th Regiment, Massachusetts Voluntary Infantry, Company B.

In the book My Diary of Rambles with the 25th Mass. Volunteer Infantry, with Burnside’s Coast Division; 18th Army Corps, and Army of the James, copyrighted in 1883 by D.L. Day King & Billings, Printers, Gazette Office, Milford, Mass., Chapter I states,

“The formation of this company was suggested by Mr. George Draper, a patriotic and public spirited citizen of the town, who has given liberally of his means for its success; his son also enlisted in the company.”

George Henry Marshall was born on October 16, 1834 in Hopkinton, Mass. to Hezekiah and Nabby Marshall, both of whom were born in Massachusetts.

Further research describes George H. Marshall as a bootmaker when he enlisted at the age 26 for a three-year term on 9/14/1861 in Milford Mass., with the rank of Private. He was discharged 3/12/1863 for disability, with the rank of Private.

Marshall’s wife, Sarah Ann Stott, was born in August of 1838 in England. George and Sarah were married on 9/14/1854. They lived in both (Woodville) Hopkinton and Milford, Mass. George and Sarah had five children.

According to the Army of the United States, Certificate of Disability for Discharge, Private George H. Marshall of Captain William Emery’s Company B of the 25th Regiment had been unfit for 62 days of the past two months. “The said Private George H. Marshall wounded himself accidentally while on picket guard in the month of May 1862: One of his large toes has been amputated and since May last he has been unfit for duty.”

Further stated in the record: “I certify, that I have carefully examined the said Private George H. Marshall of Captain William Emery’s Company, and find him incapable of performing the duties of a soldier because of: Great toe of the left foot which was amputated for a gunshot wound. Degree of disability.” The record is signed by Dr. J. Marcus Rice, Surgeon, followed by, “Discharged twelfth day of March, 1863 at New Bern, NC.”

The 1870 United States Federal Census shows a 35-year-old Marshall living in Hopkinton, Middlesex, Mass. with his wife Sarah, 34, John H. Marshall age 14, George F. Marshall, age 13, Walter J. Marshall, age 10, and Medora J. Marshall, age 4.

George Henry Marshall died on 7/11/1908 in Hopkinton, Mass. and is buried in Evergreen Cemetery, as is his spouse Sarah and son Walter Irving.

Census records from 1910 find Sarah Marshall, aged 71, a widow, still living in the Wood Street home where in 1904 William F. Draper delivered a gold handled cane to her husband George, in honor of their 50th anniversary. Sarah Ann died in 1920. Hopefully the cane proved to be “a satisfactory prop” in George Henry Marshall’s declining years. – U.S., Find A Grave Index, 1600s-Current

The following text is taken from: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.

Brevet Brigadier-General William Franklin Draper, U.S.V.
Brevet Brigadier-General William F. Draper was born in Lowell, Mass., April 9, 1842. His parents were George and Hannah Thwing Draper, both now deceased. George Draper was a remarkable man for strength of character, energy, and intellect, and left a record of usefulness excelled by few of his contemporaries. One of his ancestors, Major Abijah Draper of Dedham, fought in the Revolutionary War.

His eldest son, William, received an education for Harvard University. This was interspersed with periods of labor in machine-shops and cotton-mills.

The war changed his plans, and on the 9th of August, 1861, he enlisted in a local volunteer company that George Draper was instrumental in raising. This company became Company B of the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts, and William F. Draper was chosen second lieutenant. His war experience extended over nearly four years’ campaigning. First, in the Burnside Expedition he became signal-officer on the general’s staff, engaging in the battles of Roanoke Island, New-Berne, and Fort Macon when he was promoted first lieutenant and returned to his regiment. In August, 1862, he was commissioned captain in the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts, and joined his regiment just after the battle of South Mountain, Maryland. With the Thirty-sixth he went through the rest of the Antietam campaign and battle of Fredericksburg, and was then sent to Newport News. Then several months were spent pursuing Morgan’s cavalry in Kentucky.

In June, 1863, he joined Grant’s army at Vicksburg, taking part in the capture, and subsequently in the march to Jackson and the fighting in that locality. His regiment was reduced, from fighting and sickness, from six hundred and fifty in June to one hundred and ninety-eight in September. During this campaign he was promoted major of the regiment.

In August, 1863, he returned to Kentucky, and marched through Cumberland Gap into East Tennessee. Then the siege of Knoxville and battles of Blue Springs, Campbell’s Station, and Strawberry Plains were fought, Major Draper commanding the regiment after the 10th of October, in the place of Colonel Goodell, who was wounded.

In the spring of 1864 his corps was moved to Annapolis and partially recruited, then joining the Army of the Potomac. In the battle of the Wilderness, on the 6th of May, he was shot through the body while leading his regiment on the top of a rifle-pit just being captured by his men. After having been left on the field as hopelessly wounded, and being captured by, and recaptured from, the rebels, he was saved and sent to a hospital in Washington. He was commissioned lieutenant-colonel from this state, and served as colonel the rest of his service.

After partially recovering from the wound, he joined his regiment during the siege of Petersburg, and took command of a brigade at the Weldon Railroad engagement. A month later, at Poplar Grove Church and Pegram Farm, his division was severely engaged and cut off from the rest. His regiment was the only one of the brigade that came out as an organization, and they brought back the colors of several others. He was again wounded in the shoulder by a nearly-spent ball.

On the 12th of October his service expired, and he accepted a discharge, as his wounds were troublesome. He was brevetted colonel and brigadier-general for “gallant service during the war.” Both regiments he was engaged with were “fighting regiments,” the Twenty-fifth Massachusetts losing seventy percent of their number, killed or wounded, in one engagement (Cold Harbor), while the Thirty-sixth Massachusetts, in the campaign beginning with the Wilderness, had every field and line-officer, except one, killed or wounded, and three-fourths of the enlisted men.

The war over, he then engaged in the manufacture of cotton-machinery, and is now at the heart of the firm of George Draper & Sons, beside being president or director in more than twenty other manufacturing, railroad, or insurance companies, etc. He is a mechanical expert, and an inventor with a record of fifty patents.

General Draper served for three years on Governor Long’s staff, had a hot fight for the gubernatorial nomination in 1888, and is now elected to Congress from the Eleventh Massachusetts District, having defeated his Democratic opponent by two thousand five hundred. He is a well-known writer on economics, and was during the last year president of the Home-Market Club.1

Further information on Draper’s post-war years:

  • He became a manufacturer of cotton machinery at Hopedale, Worcester County, and patented many improvements.
  • He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1876.
  • He was a colonel on the staff of Governor Long from 1880 to 1883.
  • He was elected as a Republican to the Fifty-third and Fifty-fourth Congresses (March 4, 1893-March 3, 1897).
  • He was chairman, Committee on Patents (Fifty-fourth Congress); was not a candidate for renomination in 1896.
  • He was President of the Draper Co. upon its incorporation in 1896.
  • He was Ambassador and Minister Plenipotentiary to Italy 1897-1899.
  • He died in Washington, D.C., on January 28, 1910; interment in Village Cemetery, Hopedale, Mass.

For further reading on Gen. William F. Draper, visit:


1. Reference: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.

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