Philip Dolan, ca. 1863.42. J.W. Black (Boston). Philip Dolan, ca. 1863. From a carte de visite (source undiscovered).

Born in Ireland in 1843, Philip Dolan came to America—to New York—in 1853. His mother and most of his siblings moved to Concord shortly thereafter, where they had relatives, leaving him in the care of his older brother in New York. When his brother decided to go west, young Philip was left in the care of a butcher, who employed him as a delivery boy. In 1855, he rejoined his family in Concord, and worked in the household of John and Martha Keyes (see #20 and #38) as a stable, errand, and chore boy, simultaneously attending the Concord public schools.  In 1859, Lemuel Shaw, the Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court and a friend of John Keyes, hired him to work in his Boston home. In 1861, Dolan entered the commercial world.

On October 11, 1862, Philip Dolan enlisted as a sergeant in Company B of the 43rd Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. Discharged in July, 1863, he reenlisted in December and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the 4th Massachusetts Cavalry. Promoted to first lieutenant in February, 1864 and to captain in May, 1865, he was mustered out in November, 1865.

In October, 1864, Dolan was captured by Confederate guerrillas near Richmond, Virginia. He spent several weeks in Libby Prison and then was sent to Danville, where he remained until February, 1865. Debilitated by starvation and exposure to disease, he returned to duty three months later.

After the war, Dolan worked for the American Powder Company and then as a traveling salesman for the Boston firm of Preston and Merrill. His strength sapped by the tuberculosis contracted while he was imprisoned, he resigned in 1870.

In 1875, Dolan realized that he did not have much longer to live. John and Martha Keyes brought him back to Concord from South Carolina. He died in their home on June 13, 1875, at the age of thirty-two, and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. John Shepard Keyes had the following tribute carved on his gravestone: "A faithful, brave and patriotic soldier, a courteous gentleman, and true friend. To his memory, his comrades and associates have erected this monument."

Those who knew Philip Dolan admired his directness, his jaunty masculinity, and his good nature. In this photograph, Dolan exudes the kind of competent self-reliance that inspires trust.


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