54TH MASSACHUSETTS REGIMENT VOLUNTEER INFANTRY

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54TH REGIMENT MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY
OFFICIAL RECORDS AND REPORTS

54TH REGIMENT MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY

Report of Col. Edward N. Hallowell, Fifty-fourth Massachusetts (Colored)
Infantry.

MORRIS ISLAND, S.C.,
November 7, 1863.
GEN.: In answer to your request that I furnish a report of the part taken
by the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers in the late assault upon Fort
Wagner, I have to state:

During the afternoon of the 18th of July last, the Fifty-fourth
Massachusetts Volunteers, Col. R. G. Shaw commanding, landed upon Morris
Island and reported at about 6 p. m. to Brig. Gen. G. C. Strong. Col.
Shaw's command present consisted of a lieutenant-colonel of the field, a
surgeon, adjutant and quartermaster of the staff, 8 captains, and 11
subaltern officers of the line and 600 enlisted men. Gen. Strong presented
himself to the regiment and informed the men of the contemplated assault
upon Fort Wagner and asked them if they would lead it. They answered in the
affirmative. The regiment was then formed in column by wing, at a point
upon the beach a short distance in the advance of the Beacon House. Col. R.
G. Shaw commanded the right wing, and Lieut. Col. E. N. Hallowell the left.
In this formation, as the dusk of the evening came on, the regiment
advanced at quick time, leading the column; the enemy opened upon us a
brisk fire; our peace now gradually increased till it became a run. Soon
canister and musketry begun to tell upon us. With Col. Shaw leading, the
assault was commenced. Exposed to the direct fire of canister and musketry,
and, as the ramparts were mounted, to a like fire on our flanks, the havoc
made in our ranks was very great. Upon leaving the ditch for the parapet,
they obstinately contested with the bayonet our advance. Notwithstanding
these difficulties, the men succeeded in driving the enemy from most of
their guns, many following the enemy into the fort. It was here, upon the
crest of the parapet, that Col. Shaw fell; here fell Capt.'s Russell and
Simpkins; here also were most of the officers wounded. The colors of the
regiment reached the crest, and were there fought for by the enemy; the
State flag then torn from its staff, but the staff remains with us.
Hand-grenades were now added to the missiles directed against the men.

The fight raged here for about an hour. When compelled to abandon the fort,
the men formed a line about 700 yards from the fort, under the command of
Capt. Luis F. Emilio, the ninth captain in the line. The other captains
were either killed or wounded.

The regiment then held the front until relieved by the Tenth Connecticut
Regt. at about 2 a. m. of the 19th. The assault was made upon the south
face of the fort. So many of the officers behaved with marked coolness and
bravery, I cannot mention any above the others. It is due, however, to the
following-named enlisted men that they be recorded above their fellows for
special merit: Sergt. Robert J. Simmons, Company B; Sergt. William H.
Carney, Company C; Corpl. Henry F. Peal, Company F; Private George Wilson,
Company A.

The following is the list of casualties: Col. R. G. Shaw, killed; Lieut.
Col. E. N. Hallowell, wounded; Adjt. G. W. James, wounded; Capt. S.
Willard, wounded; Capt. C. J. Russell,* missing, supposed killed; Capt. W.
H. Simpkins,* missing, supposed killed; Capt.
George Pope, wounded; Capt. E. L. Jones, wounded; Capt. J. W. M. Appleton,
wounded; Capt. O. E. Smith, wounded; First Lieut. R. H. L. Jewett, wounded;
First Lieut. W. H. Homans, wounded; Second Lieut. C. E. Tucker, wounded;
Second Lieut. J. A. Pratt, wounded.

Enlisted men--killed, 9; wounded, 147; missing, 100; total, 256.*

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. N. HALLOWELL,
Col., Cmdg. Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers.

Gen. TRUMAN SEYMOUR,
Cmdg. U.S. Forces, Morris Island, S.C.

Source: Official Records. CHAP. XL. OPERATIONS ON MORRIS ISLAND, S.C.
[Series I. Vol. 28. Part I, Reports. Serial No. 46.]

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Report of Col. Edward N. Hallowell, Fifty-fourth
Massachusetts Infantry, of engagement at Olustee.

HDQRS. FIFTY-FOURTH MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS,
Jacksonville, Fla., March 1, 1864.
LIEUT.: At 8.30 o'clock on the morning of February 20, 1864,
the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers left Barber's with its colonel,
lieutenant-colonel, 13 line officers, and about 480 enlisted men, the rest
of the regiment having been detailed for other duty. It marched in
charge of wagon train to Olustee, at which place the train was stopped
and the regiment moved forward at the double-quick about 2 miles,
where it was formed in line between the railroad and dirt road, under
a sharp fire from the enemy. In this formation it advanced some 200
yards through a swamp, driving the enemy from some guns, and
checking the advance of a column of the enemy's infantry. After firing
about 20,000 cartridges, the men of the regiment were ordered to retreat
by Col. James Montgomery, commanding brigade. A new line was
formed on the right of the dirt road, where the regiment staid till after
dark, when it was ordered, through Col. Barton, to march back to
Barber's, where it arrived one hour after midnight.

Their loss in officers was 3 wounded-Capt. R. H. L. Jewett, First
Lieut. H. W. Littlefield, and First Lieut. E. G. Tomlinson-in
enlisted men, killed, 13; wounded, 63; missing, 8; total, 87.

The State color three times fell and each time was caught up by another
corporal. Sergt. Stephen A. Swails, acting sergeant-major, deserves
special praise for his coolness, bravery, and efficiency during the action;
he received a severe but not mortal wound in the head.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

E. N. HALLOWELL,
Col. Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers.

Lieut. R. M. HALL,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

Source: Official Records. CHAP. LIII. THE FLORIDA EXPEDITION. [Series I. Vol. 35. Part I, Reports and Correspondence. Serial No. 65.]

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Reports of Lieut. Col. H. Northy Hooper, Fifty-fourth Massachusetts
Infantry, of operations April 5-25.

CAMP FIFTY-FOURTH MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS,
April 12, 1865.
LIEUT.: I have the honor to forward the following report of the
movement of the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers to Wateree Junction:

Yesterday, a short time after sunset, the regiment reached the junction.
I discovered an engine, with steam up, upon the main road. I
directed a volley to be fired into the cab of the engine, in order to
disable the engineer in case one should be there, and immediately charged
the regiment over the bridge. After the fire the few hands who were
with the trains at once fled, and I took possession of 13 cars and 5
locomotives. I immediately sent one party up the Camden railroad,
and another on the main road toward Kingsville. Our flanks rested on
the swamp. The trestle-work on the Camden road I at once fired; at
the same time prepared the bridge on the Wilmington road for burning,
and ordered the party on the main road forward to the end of the
trestle-work. I had a part of the track taken up bodily and pitched
into the swamp; also about fifty sticks of timber, a foot or more square,
were set on fire, and a turntable, then in process of construction,
burned. Two of the engines, with the train, had steam on, and as competent
engineers were of opinion that the engine could pull the train
on the Manchester, I concluded to return to Manchester on the cars.
The regiment was fairly worn out. By 10 o'clock three more trains
were discovered about three miles up the main road upon the trestle-work.
One of these I had burned upon the trestle-work, and the two
others joined the train at the junction. After many attempts it was
found impossible to reach Manchester by rail, so I had the remaining
cars and locomotives burned. There were destroyed by fire 48 cars,
one-third passenger and one-third box-cars, and 8 locomotives.

A quantity of prepared timber, a turntable, a portion of the trestle-work
of the main road, a portion of the trestle-work of the Camden
road, and the bridge on the Wilmington road. One car contained railroad
rails and another railroad spikes; one was filled with corn and
in another were found tools, pulleys, files, etc.

I reached camp at 7.30 this morning.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. NORTHY HOOPER,
Lieut.-Col., Comdg. Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Vols.

Lieut. BALDWIN,
Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., Provisional Division.

-----

HDQRS. FIFTY-FOURTH MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS,
Georgetown, S.C., April 28, 1865.
LIEUT.: I have the honor to submit the following report of the
part taken by the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers during the late
campaign to Camden:

On the 7th instant two companies under charge of Capt. Tucker
made a reconnaissance to Epps' Bridge, on the Black River. Capt.
Tucker reported it destroyed by fire. Casualties, 1 officer and 2 men
wounded. On the 9th the Fifty-fourth composed a part of the flanking
column in the affair at Dingle's Mill. The enemy discovered the
movements in time to make good his escape. On the 11th the regiment
left the column and went to Wateree Junction. It there captured 8
locomotives and 48 cars; these were destroyed. Trestle-works on the
main and Camden roads and a bridge on the Wilmington road were
destroyed by fire. On the 16th 1 man was killed and 1 seriously
wounded while foraging. On the 18th the Fifty-fourth was ordered to
flank the enemy's position on Swift Creek. It proceeded over plowed
fields, which were bordered by the woods of the creek, about two miles
to Boykins' Mills. The banks of the stream at this point were so thickly
covered with trees that the enemy's position and strength could not be
discovered without pushing a skirmish line across the stream. The
skirmishers advanced, the column closely following. It was quickly
discovered that the enemy was prepared to dispute our passage. There
were found to be two streams. They could be crossed above by a dike
and 150 yards below by a road that crossed one stream by a bridge,
the boards of which were removed; the second stream fordable; fifteen
yards beyond the ford, up a steep ascent, was a breast-work of cotton
bales. The dike was covered by the fire of the enemy. The dike and
the road met and formed a junction on the enemy's side of the creek.

Satisfied that a crossing could be attained by a severe loss, as affairs
then stood, I sent Maj. Pope to a crossing said to be one-fourth of a
mile below the mills. Meanwhile I kept up a fire upon the enemy and
opened the gates of the mill on our bank of the stream. Maj. Pope
was unsuccessful in effecting a crossing below; he found the enemy
there in force. I then asked for a piece of artillery. It was furnished,
and after half a dozen discharges of shell at the position of the enemy
I had the satisfaction to see quite a number of rebels rapidly leave
our front. A column composed of the five companies under my immediate
command then charged across the two streams over the dike in
single file. although the enemy maintained his position for awhile,
he soon fled. The regiment gained the enemy's breast-works and the
affair at Boykins' Mills was over. Casualties: 1 officer and 1 corporal
killed; 13 men wounded, one of whom since died of wounds.

Property destroyed by the regiment: At Sumterville, 1 railroad
machine shop, 3 locomotives, 15 cars; at Wateree Junction, 8 locomotives
and 48 cars, portions of 2 trestle-works, 1 bridge, a quantity of
railroad material, and a new turntable; at Boykins' Mills, 54 bales
cotton, 3 bales of corn fodder, 1 saw-mill, 1 grist-mill; at Statesburg,
15 locomotives and 5 cars.

I am, sir, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

H. NORTHY HOOPER,
Lieut.-Col., Comdg. Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Vols.

Lieut. BALDWIN,
Acting Assistant Adjutant-Gen.

Source: Official Records. OPERATIONS IN N.C., S.C., S. GA., AND E. FLA. [CHAP. LIX. Series I. Vol. 47. Part I, Reports. Serial No. 98.]

 

Recommended Studies: 54th Massachusetts Volunteers; African American Regiments (USCT); African Americans and the American Civil War.

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