Although he was not a Son, but was a Union veteran himself, General Isaac S. Bangs of Waterville, Maine, was instrumental in establishing the Sons of Veterans in New England, and for his efforts he was made a Past Grand Division Commander and a Constitutional life member of the Commandery-in-Chief.
Isaac Sparrow Bangs, Jr., was born on March 17, 1831, in Canaan, Maine. He entered the volunteer service on August 29, 1862, as Captain of Co. A, 20th Maine Infantry. On March 2, 1863, he was transferred and promoted to Lieutenant-Colonel of the 81st U.S. Colored Troops and afterward to Colonel of the 10th U.S. Colored Heavy Artillery. He was honorably discharged on July 19, 1864, and received the rank of Brevet Brigadier General on March 13, 1865, for gallant and meritorious services at the siege of Port Hudson, Louisiana.
General Bangs was a charter member and Past Commander of W.S. Heath Post 14, Grand Army of the Republic, in Waterville and served as Commander of the Department of Maine, G.A.R., in 1880. By 1882 he had risen to the office of National Junior Vice Commander-in-Chief, G.A.R. It was during this year that Major A.P. Davis, founder of the Order and a native son of Maine, induced General Bangs to undertake the organization of the Sons of Veterans in New England. At that time there were but two Camps of the Order in that territory; W.W. Brown Camp 1 of Manchester, New Hampshire, and Garfield Camp 1 of Waterville, Maine (which had been organized by General Bangs and whose son, Dennis M. Bangs, served as first Camp Commander). The Sons of Veterans, U.S.A., Commander-in-Chief, H.T. Rowley, appointed General Bangs Provisional Commander, with the rank of Brevet Major General, of the 1st Grand Division, embracing the New England states, and he assumed command in General Orders, December 22, 1882.
At the First Grand Division Encampment held at Manchester, New Hampshire, December 27, 1883, General Bangs reported forty two Camps organized in New England with permanent Divisions in Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and provisional Divisions in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
In addition to his work in the Grand Army of the Republic and its Allied Orders, General Bangs was a member and Past Commander of the Commandery of Maine, Military Order of the Loyal Legion and a Past Grand Commander of the Grand Commandery of Maine, Knights Templar. He also was a member of the Maine Society of the Sons of the American Revolution and the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Boston.
General Bangs made his living in a variety of occupations. Before the war, he worked as a merchant and bank cashier. After the war, he became a contractor for a granite quarry and in his later life worked as an insurance and real estate agent. He also owned interests in milling and other industries. Isaac Bangs was married to Miss Hadasah Jane Milliken on October 20, 1857, and they had only one son, Dennis.
As a fitting close to an ardently patriotic life, he died on Memorial Day, May 30, 1903. His remains lie in the Milliken vault, Pine Grove Cemetery, Waterville, Maine. The Department of Maine, SUVCW, has provided by By-Law that the tomb of General Bangs shall be decorated each Memorial Day.
Eric J. Boothroyd, PCC
Department of Maine, SUVCW
Proceedings of the 49th Encampment, Department of Maine, SUVCW, Waterville, 1931
Hunt, R.D. and Brown, J.R. 1990. Brevet Brigadier Generals in Blue
Whittemore, E.C. (ed.). 1902. The Centennial History of Waterville, Kennebec County, Maine