David Wilson Northrup was born on May 1, 1824, in Fairfield, Connecticut, the son of Thomas J. (1805-1884) and Emily (Benedict, b. 1804).
David’s parents were married around 1824 (?), probably in Connecticut where Emily was born and they eventually settled in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Thomas was living in Danbury, Fairfield County in 1840 and in Bethel, Fairfield County, Connecticut in 1860.
David married New York native Mary Ann Stebbins (b. 1828) on June 8, 1846 in Borodino, Onondaga County, New York, and they had at least three children: Myron E. (b. 1848), Frank Burley (1852-1899) and Carrie Louisa (b. 1860).
By 1850 David and his wife had settled in Lysander, Onondaga County, New York where David worked as a wagon maker.
David and his family eventually left New York and had settled in Michigan by 1859-60 when he was working as a carriage-maker and living on the east side of Scribner between Sixth and Ann Streets on the west side of the Grand River, and in 1860 he was working as a carriage-maker and living with his wife and children in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward; also living with Northrup was Sumner Bacon and his family and a young teacher named Sarah Stebbins, probably Mary’s younger sister. Just two houses away lived Baker Borden who would become captain of Company B. And next door to David lived Wilson Jones and his family; Wilson too would join Company B in 1861 as would a young clerk living with Jones named Allen Foote.
David was 36 years old and probably still living in Grand Rapids when he enlisted in Company B on May 13, 1861. (Company B was made up largely of men from Grand Rapids, and many of whom had served in various local militia units before the war, in particular the Grand Rapids Artillery, under Captain Baker Borden, who would also command Company B.)
He was promoted to Corporal on January 1, 1862, but was quite possible taken ill sometime in the first half of the year and reported on duty at a hospital in July of 1862 and as a hospital nurse in August. He eventually rejoined the Regiment and was promoted to Sergeant on December 15, 1862.
David was serving with the regiment at the battle of Chancellorssville, on May 1-2, 1863. On June 7, he was with the regiment near Belle Plain, Virginia, when he wrote to former Third Michigan and Company B soldier Fred Stow who was back home in Michigan.
My Dear Fred,
Yours of the first has been received. According to request I proceed to answer by return mail. By the by, to answer your inquiries I shall necessarily have to be brief in some parts. I will give each day’s experience in our last battle separately. You speak of our condition upon that day one year ago (31st). Yes, many such days have we seen since but hope to witness not many more. The Sabbath. Yes, the Sabbath of the North as you well know, unknown here. I long for the return of those quiet days of rest. Rest to both body and soul. But we have a part to perform in the great Drama of life. Let us act this part like men. Do our duty to our God, our Country, and our selves, leaving the results with Him who controls all things. Strange and inexplicable times are His ways, but righteous are His judgments always. Misfortunes and disappointments cluster around our path, but they only are intended for our improvement if we rightly interpret their design. But to my story. We were started about noon one rainy day by the headquarters bugle sounding the pack-up call.
One hour from this, on the 28th day of April, saw us well upon our march. We took the direction we traveled before down the river. Spent that night nearby upon the banks of the Rappahannock. The next day continued our march and halted upon the banks of the river out of sight in the woods. Laid there the 29th and part of the thirtieth. About noon we started, that is all of [the] army upon the left, for the extreme right about twenty miles up the river. As I said we started about noon and marched near 20 miles before we camped. April 30th we crossed the river in the morning in front of their redoubts now vacated and marched about five miles back and camped in the woods near the front. Could hear the firing distinctly not more than half a mile ahead. Staid there till night when we marched to the front and placed on picket strung along the line of the Fredericksburg turnpike (plank road) in one continuous line of regiments. We laid there the night of the 30th and till noon the first day of May at which time we received orders to reconnoiter in our front. We (that is the brigade) skirmished up through the wood for two miles and came out upon the enemy in an open field in front of their batteries where we laid supporting our batteries under a smart fire for some two hours. It was here that many of our regiment were wounded. The fire [was] sharp on both sides. Quite a number of prisoners came into us at this time. It getting late we started back and getting about halfway found that our old position that we left in the morning was occupied by the rebs. What was to be done? A council of war was held at Sickles quarters to decide upon what it was best to do. We supposing that we were nearly or quite surrounded it was determined to try to break through their lines. The famous Midnight Charge by Moonlight was planned and carried into effect as we shall see. This was the first day of May. A day long to be remembered by me it being my birthday, commencing my 39th year. It occurred to me several times during the day that I had spent my birthday more agreeable.
I had forgot to mention that we drove the rebs from their position in the afternoon of this day, and received great credit for the service. As I was saying the charge upon their line was determined upon in order to regain the Plank Road, our old, or first position. The order of the program was that one regiment should march in front in line of battle with loaded guns. They should march right up to the enemy’s line and fire. The second line to march with fixed bayonets (our line) about twenty rods in the rear of the first. This line [was] to rush to the charge upon the firing of the first. But it being dark we became mixed up with each other so as not to distinguish one [line] from the other. The enemy were prepared to receive us. The way the grape and minies flew around us was a caution [?] to recount. The result of the performance you have already learned by the papers. I will not go into detail in this. Suffice it [to say] we lost some in wounded and prisoners. We laid in the woods close to the reb pickets all night. Soon as it became light we had to skedaddle out in double quick the balls flying after us rather faster than I desired. It seemed all of us must get hit. The rebs followed us close, out to the open field and quickly brought their batteries to bear upon us. Our batteries were not long in getting into position. We had then retreated half a mile or more. Then commenced the most furious cannonade I ever witnessed. Our regiment was supporting a battery. This was on Sunday morning. It was here while supporting this battery that Capt. [Joseph] Mason [of Company G] was killed. The rebs came upon us and we had to back up so sudden that they had no time to take his badge [?] from him. We then retreated about two miles and made a stand which we held till we finally fell back over the river.
After crossing the river each regiment returned to its old quarters the shortest route and the best way it could. This concludes the great victory of Hooker. It did not seem to be a very great victory, but perhaps I failed to see the point. I have thus been very brief as I making this too long a letter. Besides I wish to speak of another subject and my space is somewhat limited. There are many little incidents I could relate if I were with you but cannot at present. There were none killed in our Co[mpany B, although] some [were] wounded slightly. James Scribner was wounded the worst.
You mention the report of the arrest of James [Bennett] and Almon Borden. It is too true. Their sentence is as you hear. Capt. Borden dismissed with pay [and] James cashiered, dismissed without pay. It is the opinion of all that it is unjustly hard on James. It ought to be reversed the two. Borden ought to go without pay. The charge against James was deserting his company before the enemy. He went in with us the night of the charge and was not seen till Monday morning. We all supposed him killed or taken prisoners. But Monday morning he made his appearance. He is with Al[mon Borden] in Washington at present. I do not know what they intend to do. Now do not tell anyone that I have written anything about it. It must be a severe blow to his father. I presume he will take it hard. James has been anxious, very, to get out of the service but I think at too great a sacrifice. I am very sorry and do not know hardly how to express my thoughts. I should rather have sacrificed my life than to have to have such a thing to think of. I would not let this be public even to his friends if they do not know it. You will see it in the Herald of June second or third. I do not remember which. I have not got through but must close for the want of more room. I remain, Yours, D. W. [Northrup]
Interestingly David was a witness at the court martial of Lieutenant James Bennett, of Company B in May of 1863. He was mustered out on June 20, 1864, at Detroit.
After his discharge David returned to Grand Rapids and resumed his former occupation of carriage- and wagon-making. He was working at that trade in 1867-68 and living on Bridge Street at the toll gate house, and in 1868-69 when he was living on the west side of Broadway between Bridge and First Streets on the west side of the river. By 1870 he was working as a carriage-maker and living with his wife and three children in Grand Rapids’ Fourth Ward.
By 1876 David was living in Walker, Kent County when he died of consumption at his home in Walker, on Saturday October 14, 1876. The funeral service was held at the First Presbyterian church at 1:00 p.m. on Wednesday October 18, and he was buried in Greenwood cemetery: section D lot 4.
No pension seems to be available.
(There was one CHARLES J. NORTHRUP who had served in Brady’s Independent Co. of Michigan Sharpshooters and who returned to Michigan after the war where in 1865 he applied for a pension (no. 63075). His widow and children received pensions no. 183,037, dated February, 1879, drawing $10.00 per month in 1883, and by 1883 Mary was probably living in Ann Arbor, Washtenaw County.)