June 13, 2018
Up the road a piece from Thetford is the little town of Groton. If you go there (go north on I-91, take Exit 17, and then go west on Route 302, making sure you stop in for some pie at the P&H Truck Stop), you will come to the monument to the Sleeping Sentinel.
On August 30, 1861, Pvt. William Scott — one of four brothers from his family in Groton to enlist in the Union Army — was ordered to stand watch at Camp Lyon in Alexandria, VA where his unit was based. In the early morning hours of September 1, Scott was discovered sleeping at his post, and he was charged with sleeping on duty — a capital offense. Col. Breed Hyde of Hyde Park, Vt ordered that Scott be executed.
Scott’s comrades gathered 191 signatures on a petition asking for leniency, and the matter eventually went up the chain of command all the way to the Commander-in-Chief. The appeal was granted, Lincoln commuted the death sentence, and Scott returned to his regiment.
He never made it back to Vermont.
In April of 1862, Scott was leading a charge of rebel rifle pits to clear the path for the siege of Yorktown when he was shot down, and he was buried there. By the end of the Civil War, two of his brothers had also been killed. A fourth Scott brother died soon after returning home because of injuries suffered in the war.