He was an enthusiastic and most useful leader of the volunteer movement from its beginning, and a writer, composer and singer of humorous and patriotic songs, some of which, as "The Three Foot Rule" and "They never shall have Gibraltar," became well known far beyond the circle of his acquaintance.
The principal buildings within the parish are the old town hall, now used as a volunteer drill hall and armoury; the county buildings, containing the town hall and court house; the academy; reformatory and the Wigtownshire combination poorhouse.
At Breda he enlisted as a volunteer, and the first and only pay which he accepted he kept as a curiosity through life.
On the outbreak of war in 1866 he assumed command of a volunteer army and, after the defeat of the Italian troops at Custozza, took the offensive in order to cover Brescia.
On the next day the Sixth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry started south for the defence of Washington, and was the first fully armed and equipped volunteer regiment to reach the capital.