Private Preston Warren, a 39 year old carpenter from Fitchburg, MA was slightly wounded in the head at Antietam on 17 September 1862, and was in hospitals in Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and finally, Boston well into 1863. Not so much because of the head wound, but because he was found to be insane – with “paroxysmal mania.”

His diagnosis from Doctor W.W. Godding supported his discharge from the Army for disability on 13 May 1863.

On 8 June 1863, however, he was arrested in his hometown of Fitchburg and taken to Fort Independence in Boston as a deserter. A number of people tried to convince the Provost Marshal that Private Warren had previously been found insane and discharged. Captain J.B. Collins, 4th US Infantry, in whose charge he was, was having none of it:

It was eventually straightened out and Preston was allowed to go home.

Surprisingly, that was not the end of his service. He enlisted again and served with the Veteran Reserve Corps from August 1864 to August 1865 when he was honorably discharged.


Both documents pictured above are from Private Warren’s Compiled Service Record jacket at the US National Archives, Washington, DC; online via fold3.


William Whitney Godding (1831-1899) was born, like Preston, in Winchedon, MA. Dartmouth ’54, he graduated Castleton (VT) Medical College in 1857. He was a physician specializing in mental illness. He practiced in New Hampshire and Massachusetts before and during the War and was later the superintendent of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC (1877-1899). He was president of the Association of Medical Superintendents of American Institutions for the Insane (AMSAII) from 1889- 1890. He testified as an expert witness in the trial of Charles J. Guiteau, assassin of President Garfield (1881).

His 1860 picture above is from the Thanatos Archive, contributed to his Find-a-grave memorial. Here he is in about 1877 from the Library of Congress:


Washington, DC-born Captain Joseph Benson Collins (1824-1888) had enlisted in the US Mounted Rifles in 1847 for service in the Mexican War and lost the use of his left eye from a wound at Cerro Gordo. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant in the 4th US Infantry in 1848, was a Captain by 1861, and was later commended by brevets for his service in 1862 at Gaines’ Mill and 2nd Bull Run, where he was seriously wounded. In 1863 he was stationed in Boston and was a mustering officer and Military Commandant there. He was promoted to Major in the Second US Infantry in 1865 and retired from US Army service in 1871. See much more about him in 1879 Congressional testimony about his retirement.

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