CPL. ABNER COLBY, CO. G., USSS uniformed in his ubiquitous green frock coat kneeling with an early civilian target rifle with telescopic sight adopted for use by Berdan’s famous Sharpshooters. Scratched on the silver backing plate is, “A.D. Colby/Co G./N.H./U.S.S.S.”
In June 1862 the civilian weapons were replaced by the .52 caliber M1859 Sharps Rifle specially altered with a double-set trigger making this Sharpshooter image fairly early. Abner Colby enlisted as a private in the New Hampshire Company (G) of the 2nd USSS in October 1861 and was later promoted to sergeant having been present at all of the major battles fought by the famous Sharpshooters including Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.
Sergeant Colby was captured on May 7, 1864 during the battle of the Wilderness and spent the next ten months in various Confederate prisons camps among them the notorious Andersonville. In 1878 Colby applied for an invalid pension and wrote in his affidavit:
“While my company was engaged in the battle of the Wilderness, Va. on the 6th day of May 1864. I was taken prisoner by the enemy while I was accompanying an aide of Gen. Birney, who was carrying an order. I had always been in good health up to this time. After being taken prisoner I was taken to Gordonsville, Va. where I remained about a week. I was then in prison at Lynchburg, Va. about a week. I was then sent to Andersonville, Ga. where I remained about four months. I was then taken to Florence, S.C. where I remained about five and a half months. I was then paroled I think about February 1865, after having been a prisoner ten months nearly. After I had been at said Anderonsville about two months I was taken with chronic diarrhea....”
Colby goes on to state in detail what occurred at Andersonville and Florence and how the captivity had ruined his heath 13 years later.
In March 1865 Colby returned to his company which had been transferred to the 5th New Hampshire Infantry the previous month. Sergeant Colby was discharged at Concord, N.H. on June 21, 1865 and lived the rest of his life in Newton Center, Massachusetts. In 1886 (A.G.O. Nov. 19, 1886) Colby’s service record was formally amended to reflect his promotion to 1st lieutenant (from June 11, 1864), and captain (from January 16, 1865). Officially then, Colby mustered out of the sharpshooters as captain on June 21, 1865. The old soldier answered the final roll call on June 6, 1900.
Rest in peace....