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  • Writer's pictureJody Ferguson

In Defense of the Republic


My father’s mother was a Linscott. Her family came to the New World and settled in Maine in the 1600s. By the late 1800s most of them were in Kansas. This family has been involved in nearly every conflict America had, starting with the Revolution. The two ancestors that I wish to pay tribute to on this Memorial Day sacrificed their lives in the defense of the Republic.

Arad Hazelton Linscott

Arad Hazelton Linscott was born on February 4, 1844 in Jefferson, Maine. When he was old enough to join up, he volunteered with the storied Twentieth Maine Regiment. During the Civil War regiments in the U.S. Army were both regional and time allotted. In the case of the Twentieth Maine, it was formed in the fall of 1862 and set to serve for three years, at which time the men could return to their homes or re-enlist with a different regiment.

Photo: National Archives Records Administration

Arad was commissioned as a Lieutenant in the fall of 1862. During the first autumn he saw action at the Battle of Shepherdstown Ford in Jefferson County, Virginia (now West Virginia), which took place after the Battle of Antietam. After this the Twentieth Maine fought at the bloody Battle of Fredericksburg in December 1862, which was a stinging defeat for the Union. In the spring of 1863 Joshua Chamberlain was promoted to colonel and took command of the regiment. He was a quiet professor of rhetoric from Bowdoin College. He would soon gain fame as one of the greatest commanders in the Union Army. Late on the afternoon of July 2, the Twentieth Maine—short of men and ammunition—was asked to defend the Union left flank on Little Round Top at Gettysburg. When it appeared that two regiments from Alabama would succeed in turning the Union flank, Chamberlain ordered his men to execute a bayonet charge. The wild-eyed boys of the Twentieth Maine charged downhill and broke the Confederate ranks, thus ending the assault. That evening Chamberlain led his men on a further assault to overtake a Texas regiment on Big Round Top. At this point the Union victory was assured.

In his memoirs Chamberlain wrote:

Gettysburg, July 2, 1863. At 9 p.m. men pushed up the western slope of Great Round Top where the enemy had shortly before been driven. We heard squads of the enemy falling back. Near the crest we met a scattering fire which caused us the great loss of the gallant Lt. Linscott, who fell, mortally wounded.

Sidney Smythe Linscott was born on March 22, 1917 in Holton, Kansas. He graduated from the Staunton Military Academy in Virginia in 1936 and from the University of Kansas in1940. He worked as a cashier in the family bank. After Pearl Harbor he volunteered for the Army Air Corps and was turned down because of his eyesight, even though he was a licensed pilot.

He turned down an appointment to the Army’s Finance Department and volunteered as an officer with the 164th Infantry regiment, a unit of the North Dakota National Guard. He was commissioned as a lieutenant in early 1942. After five months training in New Caledonia, the regiment was sent in October 1942 to help the First Marine Division hold the vital airstrip on Guadalcanal. On the nights between October 24 and 27, the 164th stood alongside the Marines as they held against repeated Japanese attacks to take the airstrip. The second night of the engagement was the bloodiest and it became known as the Battle of Coffin Corner because of the thousands of Japanese corpses that littered the area after large-scale banzai attacks.

The men of the 164th earned the respect of the Marines and they were awarded a Navy Presidential Unit Citation. Sidney was mortally wounded on the night of October 27 and died the following day of his wounds. He was twenty five years old.

In my novel Above the Water I honor Sidney Linscott in Chapter 13 by having him appear opposite the main character of the novel Harry Dietrichson on Guadalcanal and bestowing upon him a kindness.


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