In his diary after the battle of Antietam Private Julius Rabardy wrote:

The air is full of explosions and the smell of brimstone, missiles of all kinds strike the trees and dead branches fall among the wounded. I was shot through the right thigh. A poor fellow with uplifted arm begs for water. The arm is shot off and the man speaks no more. A Confederate lies in front of me with a horrible wound. It is Hell. I close my eyes. It is probably from loss of blood, sick at the sight of such carnage. I became unconscious. When I recovered all is quiet.

The regimental surgeon amputated his leg later that day. He was not yet 30 years old and it would seem his best years were now behind him …

Born in La Havre, France, he had gone to sea as a cabin boy at age 13 in 1846 and spent the next 10 years or so as a merchant seaman. He then went to Manchester, Massachusetts, learned the woodcarving trade, and worked in one of the furniture shops for which Manchester was known.

On 26 June 1861 he enlisted in the 12th Massachusetts Infantry and his American citizenship came through a week later, on 2 July. After recovering from his horrible wound and amputation at Antietam, he was discharged for disability on 10 March 1863 from a hospital in Washington, DC.

He returned to Manchester and was appointed Postmaster there by President Lincoln in early 1865. But that wasn’t enough for Julius.

He married in 1868 and built a successful general store business starting as a news agent, later adding a telegraph station, apartments above the store, a public telephone, and other attractions.

That’s him in front of his “block” in 1892.

In 1875 he also founded the town’s first newspaper and published monthly to 1879.

He named his paper for tools used to split wood; appropriate for a former woodworker like Rabardy in a town known for it. A beetle is a heavy hammer used to drive wedges to force a log apart.

He retired by 1910 but lived until 1926 – then the oldest Cricket at age 93.

He left quite a legacy. His grandson Frank Floyd later ran the store and “Floyd’s” was in business into 2002. That part of the town is still known as the Rabardy Block. He deeded 3.8 acres of land in nearby Essex to a church group in 1908, but they dissolved in the 1920s and, according to Julius’ wishes, the land went to the town for a park and nature preserve which was named for him.


Julius Felix Rabardy’s page is on Antietam on the Web.

His pictures, the quote from his diary, and some details of his life in Manchester are from the Manchester Historical Museum.

His military service is in the Massachusetts Adjutant General’s Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War (1931-35), with wound detail from the Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion. His citizenship date is from the New England Petitions for Naturalization Index, 1791-1906 online via FamilySearch.

“Cricket” is a nickname for a Manchester resident. It derives from Creekite, which is what the people were called when the town was still Jeffrey’s Creek, before 1645.

Thanks to Jim Smith [Instagram | twitter] for the nudge to look further into Rabardy and for a copy of his obituary in the Boston Globe as a starting point.

One Response to “Julius Rabardy loses his leg, lives a life”

  1. Gary Robinson says:

    I have an important archive of original paper items pertaining to
    Mr. Rabardy. Please contact me if interested at

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