My name is Thomas Townsend, and I am a Senior at Keene State College. I am double majoring in Political Science and History and minoring in French. I live in Longmeadow, Massachusetts with my parents and younger brother. I will be graduating from Keene State in May, and I will pursue my MBA at the University of Hartford next fall.
For most of my life, I have been interested in American history. In my freshmen year at Keene State, I particularly enjoyed reading Willard Templeton’s letters to his family. Templeton was a Union soldier from New Hampshire whose letters are archived. I loved learning about the Civil War from the perspective of an ordinary soldier. Since reading his letters, I have gravitated to learning history through that lens. This drove me to study two of my ancestors who fought in the Civil War.
This semester, I will be researching great-great-great-grandfather, Winfield Groton of the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry and my great-great-great-great-grandfather Orrin Thayer of the 33rd Massachusetts Infantry. Both of them had very different lives after the war. Groton joined and eventually led a post of the Grand Army of the Republic. Thayer on the other hand committed suicide. Using their experiences, I will attempt to determine what constitutes a good or bad post-war life for a Union veteran.