b. 24/03/1842 Boston, Massachusetts. d. 06/10/1882 Providence, Rhode Island.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 21/08/1864 Weldon Railroad, Virginia.
Anderson was born on March 24, 1842, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Frederick C. and Elizabeth Anderson. By age eight he was living in a South Boston workhouse called the House of Industry. The facility was later described as “an asylum for the insane and refuge for the deserted and the most destitute children of the city”. It is unclear what happened to Anderson’s parents, although their complete disappearance from public records suggests that they were deceased.
At the age 14, Anderson was sent on the Orphan Train, which transported orphaned, abandoned, and homeless children from large East Coast cities to rural areas, where they were taken in by families and put to work. When the train reached Raynham, Massachusetts, Anderson was selected by Stilman Wilber, a local farmer. He lived and worked on the Wilber farm until his enlistment in the military.
Four months after the start of the Civil War, on August 24, 1861, Anderson was mustered into the Union Army at Camp Brigham in Dedham, Massachusetts. A 19-year-old private, he joined Company A of the 18th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. In regimental records, he was described as “5 foot 3 inches in height, with a light complexion, blue eyes and sandy hair”.
In late August 1862, one year after enlisting, Anderson participated in his first engagement, the Second Battle of Bull Run, where the 18th Massachusetts sustained its heaviest casualties of the war. A few weeks later they took part in the Battle of Antietam, and on December 13 the unit saw heavy action at the Battle of Fredericksburg. At Fredericksburg, the 18th Massachusetts advanced across open ground on a frontal assault against Confederate positions on Marye’s Heights. Although the attack was repulsed under intense fire, the regiment’s advance was among the most successful, having come closer to the Confederate lines than most other Union units. The next year, Anderson took part in the Battle of Chancellorsville in late April and early May and the Battle of Gettysburg on July 2, where his unit fought in the Wheatfield as part of the V Corps.
In August 1864, the second month of the Siege of Petersburg, Union forces, including Anderson’s regiment, cut the Weldon Railroad which supplied Petersburg and the Confederate capital of Richmond.
After the war, Anderson stayed in Massachusetts and settled in the town of Somerset. On May 20, 1866, he married Sarah E. Francis in Taunton. The couple had three children: Carrie M., born in 1872, Herbert Newell, born in 1875, and Cecilia Ann, born in 1878. Anderson died suddenly of “apoplexy” at age 40 while working at the Worcester Railroad freight yard in Providence, Rhode Island. He was buried in Dighton Community Church Cemetery, Dighton, Massachusetts. In 2021, it was announced that the family of Frederick Anderson were donating his Medal of Honor to the town of Dighton, and a bridge was to be named in his honour.
Capture of battle flag of 27th South Carolina (C.S.A.) and the color bearer.
BURIAL LOCATION: DIGHTON COMMUNITY CHURCH CEMETERY, DIGHTON, MASSACHUSETTS.
Section 2, Site 50
LOCATION OF MEDAL: TOWN OF DIGHTON, MASSACHUSETTS, POLICE STATION, DIGHTON, MASSACHUSETTS.