Fredrick Truman Main (1844-1937)

Fredrick Truman Main
Uncle Fred
Born:24 Aug 1844 Pembroke, New York
Died:10 May 1937 Harbor Springs, Michigan
Father:Samuel Main
Mother:Hannah Maria Perkins
SiblingsMiles Main
Burton Main
John Lewis Main
Jarvis Whitman Main
Daniel Canfield Main
Francis Newton Main
Fredrick Truman Main
Harvey Perkins Main
Franklin R. Main
Married:12 Apr 1875 Hastings, Michigan
Spouse:Amelia A. Judd
Children:Sadie M. Sweet Main
Fredrick Truman Main was born 24 August 1844 in Pembroke, Genesee, New York, son of Samuel Main and Hanna Maria Perkins.

Fred served in the Civil War Co. F. Reg. 100th Vol. For his efforts he was given land in Harbor Springs, Michigan where he spent the remainder of his years helping the Native Americans in the area.

His home is on Spring Street at the base of the boardwalk in Harbor on the left. His niece Minnie Pearl Main's daughter Isadora Minerva Price Sallows lived in the house for years as a summer home.

Fred married Amelia A. Judd on 12 April 1875 in Hastings, Michigan. He died 10 May 1937 in Harbor Springs, Emmet, Michigan. He was cremated at White Chapel Crematorium Birmingham, Michigan on 12 May 1937.

Fred is buried in the Lakeview Cemetery, Harbor Springs.


Emmet County Graphic, Thursday, July 28, 1932, pages 1, 10:

Old Soldier Tells Touching
Story of Civil War Events
Fred W. Main, 87, Resident of Harbor Springs 54 years,
Enlisted as Youth of 17, Lost Leg in Fort Wagner
Assault Tells of Early Days In Emmet County
By C. W. Lucas

“War is hell.”

These terse words are Fred W. Main’s bitter denunciation of war. War that took him as a carefree youth of 17 and made him a professional killer. War that cost him his right leg at 19, and left him maimed and nearly a hopeless cripple for life. War that he helped to fight 70 years ago that has brought him physical anguish every day since, and now as a man of 87, war that brings sleepless nights suffering from a wound that never healed.
Mr. Main came to Harbor Springs more than a half century ago, when there were less than 50 white persons here, and when the Indian population numbered 500. He lives at the foot of the bluff, steps beyond the Masonic Temple.

Sight Almost Gone

Here with dimming eyes that make objects only a blur before him, this old soldier who helped fight the battles to end slavery is passing the closing years of his life.

War is not an obsession with Mr. Main. He is surprisingly well informed about what is going on in the world today for a person who cannot see to read. But war is the subject that touches the most vibrant chord in his being.

After 70 years, memories of old battles come surging back through his mind. He speaks of the Peninsular Campaign, of the Army of the Potomac and of eating hard tack and salt pork as though they were experiences of only yesterday.

“If our people could see a battlefield after a campaign of open warfare strewn with the dead and wounded, they would be pacifists for life,” he proclaimed.

Enlisted Early

Born at West Pembrook, N. Y., Aug. 24, 1844, Mr. Main lived there with his parents until he was 17. On Oct. 8, 1861, he enlisted in Company F of the 100th regiment of New York. Volunteers under Gen. George McClellan, and during the winter and spring fought in a series of battles along the Potomac. Continuing in active service he was transferred to North Carolina in the spring of 1863. In the summer of the same year the Union army moved down to South Carolina.

There in July a land force under Gen. Quincy Adams Gilmore landed on Morris Island and commenced besieging the works which defended Charleston harbor, while Admiral Dahlgren took charge of the National fleet which acted in cooperation with Gilmore’s land force.

Poor Strategy Costly

The history book tells how “unsuccessful assaults were made on Fort Wagner on July 11 and 18” and that “Gen. Strong and Gen. Shaw were mortally wounded.” With this sketchy account the historian rested.
Another story of the attack on Fort Wagner is told, however, by Mr. Main. It was in that battle that cannon shot splintered his right leg just below the hip, necessitating amputation of his leg.

As Mr. Main relates the details of that battle, the Union forces, nearly a full regiment, or 1,000 soldiers, were drawn up in battle formation in the woods surrounding the fort and ordered to make the attack at dark. In the dark the men were helpless, but they pushed blindly on, while the ranks were virtually obliterated by gun fire from the fort.

Enough men reached the fort to capture one wing, but reinforcements failed to appear, and the men were taken prisoners by the Confederates.

A Night of Suffering

Mr. Main was one of the many soldiers who did not get to the fort. While crossing the moat which surrounded the Confederate stronghold he suffered the leg wound and lay where he fell until morning. The Confederates took him inside the for the next morning and put him on a boat for Charleston. His leg was amputated while he was on the ship. After staying in the hospital in Charleston for several weeks, he was exchanged to the Union forces and spent the remaining days of the war in a New York hospital.

Waiting until dark to attack the fort was poor strategy, according to Mr. Main. In the day time the soldiers could have made the short distance from the woods to the fort without many casualties, he said.

Main’s Story of McClellan

Many history books praise McClellan’s activities with his Northern Army, but Mr. Main, who fought for tow years under him, gives another version of McClellan as a general. He knew military tactics and how to discipline an army, yet he was a coward at heart, said Mr. Main. The story went the rounds in Mr. Main’s regiment that “McClellan could build a better bridge than any other general on the Union side, yet he would be afraid to cross it first.” “That is what many of McClellan’s soldiers thought of him,” said Mr. Main.

Mustered out of the army July 30, 1864, Mr. Main came to Hastings, Mich., the same summer. He lived there for 12 years and operated a drug store. He married in Hastings in 1875. Eleven years later he came to Petoskey, Feb. 10, 1876. At that time there were only three painted houses in Petoskey, and the rest were log structures, he said. There were only a few white families and the remainder of the population was made up of Indians.

Tiring of living among the Indians, Mr. and Mrs. Main moved to a homestead in Pleasantview township and tried farming for two years.

Moved to Harbor Springs

Harbor Springs in those days was the business center of the county, so Mr. and Mrs. Main moved here in 1878. Less than 50 white people lived here when Mr. Main first came, but the town grew rapidly as a lumbering center. Soon the saw mills were singing day after day.

Handle, toothpick and stave factories attracted newcomers and added to the bustle. Steamboats burning wood for fuel stopped in the fine harbor here to take on wood for their lake trips from Chicago to the north. Thousands of telephone and telegraph poles were cut and shipped to southern cities. The population jumped to more than 25000 by 1900.

The Town Was ‘Very Wet’

The town was “very wet” when the lumber business was thriving, said Mr. Main. Even the grocery stores kept countless barrels of whiskey in the stock rooms to help supply the pressing demand for liquor.

“What do you think of prohibition?” Mr. Main was asked. “I believe we should rally to support the prohibition amendment,” he promptly retorted. “The country is far better off now than in the days of the saloon, when the fathers squandered their pay checks in a riotous orgy every Saturday night,” he added.

“Do you smoke Mr. Main?” His eyes twinkled as he told how he has smoked since he was “a kid in the army and long green was the only kind of tobacco available.” “I like a cigar or a pipe; a cigarette doesn’t last long enough,” he chuckled.

Doesn’t Like Curls

Mr. Main has long silky gray hair that hangs in curls under his hat. “I try to keep those curls cut off, I don’t like them,” he said.

Taking a worn crutch in one hand and a cane in the other, the old soldier hobbled unsteadily up the street.


Emmet County Graphic, May 1937, pages 1, 10:

Uncle Fred with his GAR medals
Frederick F. Main Dies At
Harbor Springs Home On
Monday Afternoon

Frederick F. Main, 92, Harbor Springs’ last surviving Civil War veteran, died late Monday afternoon at his Spring street home. Mr. Main, although feeble for the last few years, had been ill only two weeks.

He is survived by no close relatives. His great-nephew Donald Price, and family have cared for him in recent years. Mrs. Main died in 1923. There were no children.

In compliance with his own instructions given in January, 1935, Mr. Main’s body was taken to Forest Lawn Memorial Park, Detroit, for cremation, and the ashes will be strewn upon his wife’s grave in Lake View cemetery on an appropriate patriotic holiday, either Memorial day of the Fourth of July. There will be no funeral service at this time.

The aged veteran was born August 24, 1844 in the town of West Pembroke, Genesee county, New York, where he resided until seven or eight years of age, when his parents, Samuel and Maria Main moved to what was then known as Murray’s Corners, in the town of Newstead, Erie county, New York. There he lived until the outbreak of the Civil War, when he enlisted October 8, 1861, and was mustered into Company F, 100th regiment, New York volunteer infantry.

In His Own Words

Mr. Main several years ago dictated a brief account of his experiences in the Union Army and his subsequent coming to Emmet county following his honorable discharge, and gave it to the Emmet County Graphic for safe-keeping. Portions of the account follow:

The regiment was held in garrison at Fort Porter, Buffalo, N. Y. until March 7th, 1862, when we were sent to Washington D. C., and placed in Gen. Neglee’s brigade. We were encamped on Meridian heights while in Washington and left there about April 1st, 1862 when Gen. McClellan made his advance on Richmond, Va. We marched from our camp on Meridian heights in the afternoon through Washington and across the long bridge on our way to Alexandria, where we arrived late in the night and the next day were put aboard the famous old frigate Constitution, which also carried the other three regiments belonging to our brigade bound for Ft. Monroe, arriving the next day where we first saw the old original Monitor that vanquished the rebel ironclad boat, Merrimac. That evening ran down to New Port News where we were landed, encamping about one week, then took up our march across the country for Yorktown where we participated in the siege of that town and afterwards in the following battles: Williamsburg, Bottoms Bridge, Fair Oaks, White Oak Swamp, Wood’s Cross Roads, Malvern Hill and the last three battles were fought during the seven days retreat from in front of Richmond to Harrison’s landing, on the James river, where we arrived on the 3rd day of July, 1862.

We camped here until about the last of August, when we commenced our retreat back to York Town. On reaching there were sent across the York river to Gloucester Point and on about the 10th day of December were ordered to march to Fredericksburg to reinforce General Burnside. On reaching near there, were halted and ordered back to our old camp at Gloucester Point as Burnside was defeated and had to ball back across the river.

We left Gloucester Point about the 28th day of December, 1862, and took a transport for Morehead City, N. C. where we landed about Jan. 1, 1863 and were ordered from there to Carolina City, which lies about midway between that place and Newburn. On or about June 1st, we were ordered back to Morehead City, where we embarked for Port Royal, S. C. On arriving landed opposite there on St. Helena Island; were encamped there until about July 1st, when troops were ordered to proceed to Charleston. Our first landing was on Cole’s Island, which we captured, then proceeded to take Folly Island and on the 11th captured the north end of Morris Island on Charleston Bay.

Taken Prisoner

On the 18th in the assault on Ft. Wagner I lost my right leg and was made prisoner, and taken to Charleston City. I was wounded just after dark. Throughout the night I lay in the trench and when water from the bay was at high tide, there was a good two feet of water about me. The next day I gave my pocket book and all to a rebel, who in his drunken frenzy was around robbing the dead. He drew me up on the hot sand on the 19th day of July. That day I was put on board a transport by the rebels. Was there about a week and then parolled and sent to Fort Schuyler Hospital, N. Y. and was transferred from there to Central Park hospital, N. Y. City and there received an honorable discharge on July 30th, 1864.

Soon after came to Hastings, Michigan, where I lived for about twelve years. Was married April 12th, 1875 to Amelia A. Judd, daughter of Hawley and Eleanor Judd. Came with my family to Emmet county February 11th, 1876. Lived in Petoskey until about May 1st, when we moved onto our homestead located in Section 12, Pleasant View Twp. Moved to Harbor Springs on or about the 1st day of September, 1878.


*Birth: Main Family Bible

*1850 Federal Census, Pembroke, Genesee, NY
          Main, Samuel
                  , Frederick, 5, male, NY

*Military: Fred Main: Co. F. Reg. 100th NY, Volunteer in Civil War.

*1880 Federal Census, Little Traverse, Emmet, Michigan:
          Main, Frederick F., self, married, male, white, 35, NY, Justice Of The Peace, VT, NY
                  , Amelia, wife, married, female, white, 39, CT, Keeping House, CT, CT
                  , Sadie M., daughter, single, female, white, 14, MI, At School, ---

*1900 Federal Census, Little Traverse Twp., Emmet, Michigan:
          Main, Fred T., head, white, male, Aug 1843, 56, md 25 years, NY, CT, NY, Peasemin?
                  , Amelia A., wife, white, female, Feb 1837, 63, md 25 years, O kids, O living, CT, CT, CT

*1910 Federal Census, Little Traverse Twp., Emmet, Michigan:
          Main, Fred F., head, 64, married1, NY, CT, NY, Bookkeeper
                  , M. Amelia, wife, 62,  married2, O kids, CT, CT, CT

*1930 Federal Census, Harbor Springs Village, Emmet, Michigan:
          Main, Frederick F., head, male, white, 85, widow, married at 30, NY, CT, NY,
          Price, Minnie P., niece, female, white, 61, widow, married at 23, MI, NY, OH

*Death: Main Family Bible

*Burial: Lakeview Cemetery Index, Harbor Springs, Emmet, Michigan:
          Sec D Lot-34
          Main, Frederick F
          d. May 10, 1937

*Family Records of Isadora Price Sallows

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