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Doolittle, Henry Jonas

HENRY JONAS DOOLITTLE. Captain and A. D. C. (U. S. Vols.), April, 1862; died at Racine, Wis., August 31, 1862, of disease contracted in the service. HENRY JONAS DOOLITTLE was born March 4, 1839, in Rochester, New York, the son of James R. and Mary Lovina (Cutting) Doolittle. He was a descendant of Abraham Doolittle, Dowlittle, or Dulitell, who took the oath of allegiance to the Colony of New Haven in 1644, and was chosen marshal of the Colony twenty years later. In his autobiography in the Class-Book he thus describes his school and college days: - " I was kept steadily in school (the common school) till I was ten years old, when I was transferred to a high school at Warsaw, under the charge of Mr. Horace Briggs. My father removed to Wisconsin. When I was twelve I entered the school of one Stow, in Racine, and began Latin. " In about one year I was put under the charge of Rev. Roswell Park, D. D., who opened a school at Racine, under a charter from the State incorporating Racine College. I continued at school here until I was seventeen. I then left for one year; and during the summer months I worked with a party of engineers on the construction of the Racine and Mississippi Railroad. In June, 1857, I determined to come to Harvard; and, after a little brushing up in my studies, came on. I reached Cambridge in August, was examined in September, and admitted as an undergraduate. Owing to my poor fit in the classics, and especially in the Greek, I was conditioned in Greek Grammar and prose reading, but soon rubbed the conditions off. "The first vacation I spent with my relatives in Wyoming County. The next term I 'trained' with other members of my Class for the race to come off at Springfield in July, 1858. Owing to the death of one of the Yale crew by drowning, the race was given up. I trained the next term for rowing. We pulled in the Juniata at the celebration of the anniversary of the battle of Bunker Hill, our boat taking the second prize. In July following I pulled at Worcester in the College Regatta. Our boat (the Avon) was beaten by the shell boats (being a lap-streak), but beat the others of the same class." If any member of the Class of 1861 had been asked, at the time of graduation, which of our number would be the first to fall by the hand of disease, perhaps the subject of this brief sketch would have been the last to be selected. His large and powerful frame, his strong constitution made still firmer by athletic habits, seemed to promise him a life of vigorous health prolonged to a green old age. And yet he was the first to die; and he died, not as some others of the Class who soon followed him, by the bullet of the enemy, but on the bed of sickness. The materials which the writer of this notice has at his command are but scanty. Only a few facts of Doolittle's history after graduating can be given. The summer of 1861 he spent in Washington with his father, Senator Doolittle of Wisconsin. He soon, however, returned to his home in Racine, and engaged in the study of law. He also acted as military instructor to two companies of Wisconsin troops, - one the company of Captain Lynn, the other a company at Darlington. He sought for himself an opportunity to serve his country in the field, and was promised by Governor Randall the position of Major in one of the Wisconsin regiments; but for reasons not stated, the Governor failed to fulfill his promise. But his patriotism did not grow cold under this disappointment, and early in the spring of 1862 he received and accepted an appointment upon the staff of General C. S. Hamilton, with the rank of captain. He -served first under General McClellan in the Peninsular campaign against Richmond, afterwards at Harper's Ferry, and still later near Corinth, Mississippi. A short time before his death he applied for a ten days' furlough, in order that he might be present at the celebration of his parents' silver wedding, July 27, 1862. But before he received the furlough, he was attacked with typhoid fever, and was carried home only to die. A touching circumstance connected with his illness is, that, while in the delirium of fever, after his return, he imagined himself still on his journey, and piteously entreated that he might be taken home. But the skill of the physician was unable to save him, and on the 10th of August, 1862, at the age of twenty-three years and five months, he died. The cast of Doolittle's mind eminently corresponded with the structure of his body. Both were unusually strong and vigorous. He was a man of firmly established convictions, and he adhered to them with great tenacity. But his mind was well balanced, and his judgment was clear and sound. His moral character was unimpeachable, and his regard for duty hearty and unwavering. He gave himself with true patriotic ardor to the military service of his country, and he would be the last to regret the life which he sacrificed in his zeal for her cause. If he had lived, he would have been sure of an honorable and useful career. His strength of character must necessarily have given him a commanding position in any community; and there can be little doubt that he would have made for himself a place among the most honored public men of his State.

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