Private George Fiske, Company D, had been keeping a diary of the trip and made this entry on February 2nd 1863; "We started at daybreak, and having good luck have made a good day's journey and at four o'clock p.m. tied up here at Stark's Landing or Ferry, being accommodated by a flat boat as are all the ferries in Texas. There are three or four houses here and quite a large clearing. We are all out of provisions - both meal and meat. Tomorrow the teams are to be dispatched several miles back into the country for meal, and the guard are to hunt cattle. So we shall probably make but little headway tomorrow."
David Chapin, who was quite ill before leaving Houston, was one of the sick whose condition worsened and on the night of February 2nd, died as a result of his ailments while on board the Roebuck.
On February 3rd, George Fiske made this entry in his diary; "Part of the teams were dispatched early after meal while the rest were engaged in bringing wood for the boat, and part of the guard went in search of cattle. At ten o'clock we performed the saddest duty of a soldier - the burial of a comrade, David Chapin, of Company I, who died last night of typhoid fever. After much labor and expense, a rough board coffin was constructed in which the remains were placed and conducted to the grave at the edge of the woods. The guard marched in front with reversed arms, their bugler playing the "dead march." Upon reaching the grave, we assembled around while the funeral services were conducted by the Chaplain. When all was over, the guard fired three volleys over the grave, and with uncovered heads, we marched past and took our last look at our departed brother, and then returned to the boat. We felt very grateful to these kind-hearted cowboys for the respect they paid to our dead.
"By noon the teams had returned with a supply of meal; sufficient wood had been taken aboard, three or four cattle brought up and dressed, and everything ready for a start. So we cast off from the shore, and proceeded on our way. The clearings and settlements begin to grow thicker, the banks higher, and the country more open. We ran rather [?better?] than usual today. It was after dark when we drew up to the Louisiana side, but in a very few minutes, the darkness was relieved by the light of a dozen camp fires. We set fire also to several dead pines, which being full of pitch were soon blazing to their very tops. We saw a black bear today. He stood on the bank and growled at us as the boat swept by."
David Chapin was buried in an area that later became the family cemetery of William Hawley Stark. A neat head-board, with name, age, company and regiment inscribed thereon, was placed on his grave. The Roebuck then continued it's journey up the Sabine River, arriving at Burr's Ferry at 3:30 on the afternoon of February 4th.[2,3] Private Henry C. Sellea, Company D, who had been sick for four days on the boat, died February 7th, a few days after arriving at Burr's Ferry and was buried in the Burr Family Cemetery, a ceremony performed as was given David Chapin at Stark's Landing. On the morning of February 9th, the prisoners started their overland march arriving in Alexandria February 18th, 1863, where they were paroled and rejoined the 42nd Massachusetts in New Orleans February 22nd,1863.
After the war, George A. Chapin spoke with those who had served with David in an attempt to find out where his son had been buried. One member of the 42nd Massachusetts, who apparently had attended David's funeral, made a pencil sketch of David's grave which the family had enlarged into an oil painting. Later, George received a letter from a gentleman who had been traveling in Texas and had visited William Hawley Stark who mentioned their was a Union Soldier buried on his property named David Chapin. The traveling gentleman gave George directions on how to contact Mr. Stark and George sent a letter with $10 enclosed to pay for the care given to the grave by William's family and expressing a wish to buy the spot and have a fence built around it and have it carefully kept.
George M. Fiske was in Company D, 42nd Massachusetts volunteer infantry (or M.V.M. as he calls it in the diary). He was from Medfield, Massachusetts. The passages from the diary of George Fiske were contributed by Erica Fletcher.
2) Hayes, Tom, Website titled "Letters of the Civil War." This account ran in the Roxbury City Gazette; March 12, 1863; pg. 2, col. 5.
3) Ibid. Reported in the Roxbury City Gazette; February 5, 1863; pg. 2, col. 6.
4) Boyett, Floyd Willis, Article published in 2002 titled, "Talk About Slow Mail."
George received no reply to his first letter and on the 28th of February in 1867,sent a second letter which also went unanswered. Most likely in despair, George then dropped the matter. Meanwhile, in 1867, the second letter had been delivered to "W. H. Stark" of Orange, Texas by mistake and was not forwarded to it's intended recipient. As time passed, the William Hawley Stark descendants would tell the story of the Young Union Soldier who was buried in the family plot, but his name would be lost to the new generations and David would become another forgotten casualty of the Civil War. However, events occurred in the summer of 2001 which would reveal the idnetity of the "yankee soldier" buried in the William Stark Cemetery. The following was published by Floyd Boyett.