Brig. General Franklin G. Butterfield (USA)

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Franklin George Butterfield, Brig. General

Birthdate: (73)
Birthplace: Rockingham, Vermont, United States
Death: January 6, 1916 (73)
Place of Burial: Saxtons River, Windham, Vermont, United States
Immediate Family:

Son of David Butterfield and Almira Butterfield (Randall)
Husband of Maria S Butterfield (Frost)
Father of Benjamin Frost Butterfield and Esther Elmira Butterfield
Brother of Esther Kimball (Butterfield); Frederick David Butterfield and Charles Butterfield

Occupation: Co. C, 6th Vermont Infantry
Managed by: Lawrence W. Murphy
Last Updated:

About Brig. General Franklin G. Butterfield (USA)

Franklin G. Butterfield, Brigadier General (born March 11, 1842, Rockingham, Vermont; died January 6, 1916) was a soldier during the Civil war and was the recipient of the Medal of Honor, the United States' highest military award.



Son of David Butterfield and Almira Ward Butterfield


  1. Almira Ward Butterfield (Randall) June 1, 1866


  1. Benjamin Frost Butterfield
  2. Esther Elmira Butterfield


Franklin G. Butterfield was educated at the common schools and the Saxton's River Academy. Choosing a practical business education rather than a college course, he at the early age of sixteen entered the hardware house of A. & J. H. Wentworth of Bellows Falls [Windham County, Vermont]. In 1859 he removed to Derby Line and became connected with the house of Foster & Cobb.

Civil War

During 1863, including the Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Mine Run campaigns, he served as an aid-de-camp on the staff of Maj.-Gen. Lewis A. Grant, commanding the Vermont Brigade. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions at the battle at Salem Heights, 4 May 1863. He was promoted to Captain, and, on 21 October 1864 he was promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel, commanding the regiment, at the age of twenty-two years.

At the battle of Salem Heights, the Second Brigade, Second Division, Sixth Army Corps, made a charge on Marye's Heights, near Fredericksburg, when one of the regiments was thrown into confusion, breaking away from the line. This caused a gap in the charging columns and jeopardized the success of the attack, the blame resting entirely with the colonel of the regiment. Repeated efforts to reform the line failed. Finally Lieutenant Frank G. Butterfield, of Company A, Sixth Vermont Infantry, was entrusted with, and assumed the grave responsibility of moving the regiment without the consent of the colonel commanding, bring it back into action in its proper place, in the midst of a fierce battle, and under a galling fire of artillery and infantry. The officer in command of the brigade, General L. A. Grant, thanked and commended the lieutenant, and placed the colonel under arrest.

The day following, May 4th, the Sixth Army Corps was under fire all day. At dusk the lines were shortened and upon a new line being formed near the river at Banks' Ford, General Grant made the startling discovery that the Sixth Vermont Infantry was missing, possibly captured. Lieutenant Butterfield would not believe that his brave Vermonters had been made prisoners, and General Grant sent him to search for the regiment. At last he found his comrades in a strong position several hundred yards in front of the original line of battle. They had repulsed a charge of the enemy, and, charging in return, had been carried far from the original line by their impetuosity and valor. In the meantime, however, the enemy had already attacked the new line. Heavy cannonading sounded from the rear of the Vermont regiment. Colonel Barney, commanding, was loath to retire, but, of course, fell back with his regiment. Lieutenant Butterfield took command of a skirmish line, covered the retreat, and saved the regiment from destruction.

At Lee's Mills a few weeks before the incident above recorded, Lieutenant Butterfield was forced to fall back over the Warwick Creek with his command while under a fearful fire from the enemy. He and Captain E. F. Reynolds, of Company F, Sixth Vermont Infantry, were the last to retreat. The captain fell, and here it was that Lieutenant Butterfield displayed true comradeship. He assisted the wounded officer across the creek, where in midstream he fainted. But the lieutenant would not desert him. He held his head up above water until he had reached the other bank with his load, only to find that his comrade was dead.


The President of the United States in the name of The Congress takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to First Lieutenant Franklin George Butterfield Army For service as set forth in the following:


For The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to First Lieutenant Franklin George Butterfield, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism on 4 May 1863, while serving with Company C, 6th Vermont Infantry, in action at Salem Heights, Fredericksburg, Virginia. First Lieutenant Butterfield took command of the skirmish line and covered the movement of his regiment out of a precarious position

Signed//Abraham Lincoln

After the civil war

From 1865 to 1877 he was engaged in mercantile pursuits at Saxtons River. In August, 1877, he commanded a brigade of veterans at the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the battle of Bennington. In that year he returned to his original intention, broken up by his army service, the study of law. In 1880 he was appointed by President Hayes supervisor of census, and had charge of the state of Vermont in the taking of the tenth census. On completion of this work he was selected by the President, the Secretary of the Interior, and Gen. Francis A. Walker, superintendent of the tenth census, to take charge of the investigation of the alleged census frauds in the state of South Carolina. Leaving Vermont early in November he remained in South Carolina till Feb. 1, 1881, when he returned to Washington and made his report. A previous investigation had been made which had proved unsatisfactory. General Butterfield's report settled this vexed question to the entire satisfaction of all parties. He was urged by General Walker to remain in Washington to assist in completing the work of the tenth census, and consented. In 1882 he was transferred to the Bureau of Pensions, where he served through all the various grades and became a principal examiner in July, 1884. In 1890 he was made chief of the special examination division and during that year had three hundred and fifty special agents in the field and an office force of upwards of one hundred. Finding the work much in arrears, he brought it up to date and in a period of three years had reduced the expenditure of that division in the handsome sum of $426, 000. In 1888 he formed business connections in Vermont and in July, 1892, after great reluctance on the part of the Secretary of the Interior and Commissioner of Pensions, his resignation was accepted, and he returned to Vermont to devote his entire time to private business. He is associated with his brother, Col. F. D. Butterfield, under the firm name of Butterfield & Co., in the manufacture of taps and dies and other thread cutting tools at Derby Line.

Memberships and other info

See timeline.

Off line Sources

  • Jacob G. Ullery, compiler, Men of Vermont: An Illustrated Biographical History of Vermonters and Sons of Vermont, Transcript Publishing Company, Brattleboro, VT, 1894
  • Rutland Daily Herald, Jan. 8, 1916
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Brig. General Franklin G. Butterfield (USA)'s Timeline

March 11, 1842
Rockingham, Vermont, United States
April 25, 1867
Age 25
August 4, 1871
Age 29