Friday, February 17, 2012
Capt. Frederick D. Forrest, Co. I, requested a two week leave of absence due to his wife Abby having to undergo a surgical procedure in Maine. In the meantime a Boston Surgeon wrote that Seth King of Co. K, who had suffered a fractured left arm at Hall's Hill on Dec. 24th when he tripped over a tent rope while hurrying to drill, would require an extension of his furlough until mid-March in order to ensure he was fully healed and capable of performing his duties.
At 24 Frederick Dunbar Forrest was 11 months older than John L. Spalding, making him the second youngest Captain in the 18th Massachusetts Infantry. Married and the father of a two year old daughter, he had earned his way by making shoes in Wrentham, MA before the war. Enlisting in mid-May 1861, Forrest lacked the pre-requisite political connections, but was able to secure a commission based on previous experience with a militia company. It didn't hurt that he was tall, energetic, adept at drills and able to present himself with the appropriate military bearing. He was pretty much, as one of his men said, the perfect representation of the "Sunday soldier." And Forrest would fit that bill admirably as the rigors of the Peninsula Campaign took their toll on him physically. Or at least that's what Forrest wanted others to believe. Supplied with statements from doctors stating his kidneys were ailing him, he'd pack it in and go home on July 22, 1862 to sit out the rest of the war. In his wake an unsympathetic imprint was etched in the minds of those he had commanded and their voices trailed Forrest on his train ride north, hissing that he had simply "shown the white feather."