Richard Henry Salter

Surgeon, 1st Massachusetts Infantry

Richard Henry Salter, M.D. was born August 2, 1808, in Mansfield, Connecticut. His father was John Salter; his mother was the Mary Williams who traced her ancestry back to Ezekiel Williams, High Sheriff of Connecticut, and through his wife Prudence, to the great minister, Solomon Stoddard.

Richard attended the Phillips Andover Academy where he met and married Abbie Wheeler, Andover, MA, April 29. 1835. Abbie was the daughter of Abigail Wheeler and Dr. Leonard Woods, the first professor of Theology at Andover Seminary. Richard had graduated from Yale Medical School in 1831.

The couple first moved to Norwich where he took up the practice of medicine, but they removed to Boston in the fall of 1835. He received an honorary degree of Master of Arts from Kenyon College in 1854. He had translated an abstruse book from the French.

When the Civil War began, Richard was 55, but he volunteered right away to join the Union army as physician. He was a part of the First Volunteer Infantry of MA, which was part of the Army of the Potomac.

Richard traveled with the army until February 1863, when he had to resign for health reasons. The First Massachusetts had been part of Joe Hooker’s mud march, and, even as a surgeon, tramping through the mud, rain, and wind must have been a terrible ordeal for Richard Salter. He received an honorable discharge and returned to Boston where, after remission from the kidney disease from which he suffered, he resumed his career.

After the war, he became an elder at the Church of the Advent in Boston, but, even as they were accused of papist tendencies by the bishop of Boston, Richard and Abbie joined a handful of converts to Roman Catholicism. Their daughter Mary married Linton Stephens, the half brother of the vice president of the Confederacy!

The Salters had six children, two of whom died as infants. Abbie, his gracious and sociable wife, died August 23, 1883. Richard died August 4, 1893, felled at last by the same kidney disease that caused him to resign from the army. He had lived to be 85 years old, in bad health, according to his pension records, the last few years of his life. His daughter Edith cared for him until he died. He was buried at Mount Auburn cemetery in Cambridge, MA, next to Abbie, his two infant daughters and his first daughter in law.

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