April 7, 2011
Behind a wrought-iron fence and a stone gateway in Uphams Corner sits Dorchester North Burial Ground, dotted with headstones dating back centuries, most of them unreadable after decades upon decades of wear from the elements.
The life stories behind the names on most of the memorials are mostly forgotten, touches of history in a neighborhood burying ground.
But not so that of Dorchester townsman Benjamin Stone Jr., who led a life that lingers in memory still, especially now when the commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War are in the news.
Stone was the commander of the 11th Massachusetts Regiment’s Company K, which he had personally assembled as a unit made up solely of Dorchester residents, who quickly elected him their captain as state law allowed.
Stone led Company K from May 27, 1861, when it set off from Meetinghouse Hill, until he was mortally wounded at the Second Battle of Bull Run on Aug. 29, 1862. He died a week later at the age of 44.
Stone was a Dorchester man his entire life. He and his wife Ursula had one daughter, Sarah. In civilian life, Stone was a music engraver and a painter. The Dorchester Atheneum also credits him as a musician.
In his book “Good Old Dorchester,” the historian William Orcutt referred to Company K’s soldiers as “respectable young men who left their daily business practices from patriotic motives.”
Stone and his men fought in the First Battle of Bull Run in July 1861, the first major battle of the Civil War, then returned to Manassas a year later and battled the Confederates under Gen. Stonewall Jackson. Stone and 112 others in the 11th Massachusetts regiment did not survive the battle. Company K returned home in June 1864 with only 12 men left from the complement that had set off in 1861.
Stone’s legacy lives on. After the war, the local Grand Army of the Republic post, a fraternal organization of Civil War veterans, was named after him. And a statue of him graces the Civil War plot in Cedar Grove Cemetery on Adams Street.
And his great-great-nephew, Clayton Stone, who lives in Abington, a dozen miles south of Dorchester. followed in the steps of his hero uncle ancestor by serving in the Air Force during the Korean War.
Nicholas Jacques and Nicholas Berghane are undergraduate students in the Northeastern University School of Journalism.