It was the perfect romance story. It should have been the perfect happily ever after.
On August 13, 1862, Ira Augustus Nash enlisted in Co I of the 26th Michigan Volunteer Infantry. Ten days later, on August 23, he married his sweetheart, Mary Elizabeth Blanding. He mustered in on September 16. Eight months later, little Ira Augustus Nash Jr. was born on May 26, 1863.
The facts seem to set the stage for a perfect and romantic life. That perfect life was not to be, for one missing fact. On January 6, 1863, halfway into Mary’s pregnancy, Ira Nash was accidentally shot by a longtime friend.
On January 25, 1863, after fighting and struggling for his life, he died far from home, in Alexandria Virginia. Ira Nash, though making plans and preparation for his future, entered into service for his country. Through no fault of his own, he was struck down, his life taken, and now he lies in an honored grave.
The Nash family had moved to the Lowell area in 1845. Ira’s parents were Ira and Juda Ann Fero Nash. His father Ira was an implement dealer in Lowell for many years. It was said that his mother, Juda Ann Fero Nash, cheerfully endured the hard life of pioneering.
The accident that claimed the life of Ira Nash was described by Captain Earl Avery of Lowell. “At the time of the accident my company men detached from the Regiment as guards at the commissary department and were quartered in barracks at the foot of Duke Street, Alexandria Va, when we took possession of the barracks on the 1st day of January 1863. I saw two or three old muskets scattered about the floor and ordered them taken care of. On the 6th day of January 1863 some of the men took one of the muskets to examine it (as is often done) and it was passed from one to another and many of them cocking and snapping the piece when the Corporal took it to examine and pointing it out of one of the front windows cocked and snapped it, discharging the piece the contents of or a portion of it lodging in the body and limbs of Ira A. Nash who was on the opposite side of the street. All of the men that examined that piece say there was no cap on the cone and they did not think the musket was loaded. Also say the Corporal did not put a cap on the piece. The musket was charged with what is usually called “duckshot”, being about half the size of common buckshot. I afterwards learned that the muskets had frequently been used by clerks and others connected with the commissary department to shoot ducks on the Potomac River and had been returned loaded. I think five of the shots took effect one striking him in the groin or lower part of the body and passed into the bowels which the surgeon informed me was the fatal shot. I immediately had him placed upon a stretcher and conveyed to Wolf Street hospital where he died on or about the twenty fifth day of January 1863. No ill feeling was known to exist between the Corporal and Nash but on the contrary the greatest intimacy they being old friends and neighbors previous to entering the U.S. Service. No blame can possibly be attached to Ira A. Nash in the case.”
A nurse who attended Nash wrote the following, “Poor boys! Some of them never knew what it was to perform a soldier's duty, for they died before having an opportunity to strike one blow in defense of liberty – sacrifices, nevertheless, to the cause. One of the number, Ira Nash, was accidentally shot by a comrade the 6th inst., from the effects he died on the 25th. During those weeks of suffering, he was a perfect embodiment of patience. He entertained no feelings of resentment toward his unfortunate comrade who was the cause of his untimely death, but freely forgave. His brother [James] came on as soon as he heard of the accident, remained with him until he died, and then returned home with his remains to the young wife so soon left a widow, and the many friends who mourn their loss.”
After the war, the widowed Mary E. Blanding Nash married James M. Althouse on November 9, 1867.
Ira Augustus Nash Jr. lived until 1937 and had 3 children. His son Ira Alfred Nash died in 1969, having no children. Ira Alfred Nash followed in his grandfather’s footsteps as he served in the military, and was a veteran of the Mexican Expedition, World Wars I and II, and was a Chief Warrant Officer, U.S. Navy, Ret.
In 2012, a new gravestone was placed on Ira Nash’s grave in the Krum - Blanding Cemetery, Vergennes Township, through the efforts of Alan Teelander and Lowell Granite. Teelander’s goal “is that they will be remember and honored.”