The 21st Regiment Mass. Volunteer Infantry; probably the best, most complete, and historic grouping on the market.
Henry Sparhawk Hitchcock, of Templeton, Massachusetts was engaged as a carpenter prior to the Civil War, and when war had begun, Hitchcock, like thousands of Massachusetts men, volunteered to serve his State and the Union. On July 19, 1861, Henry was mustered into Company “A” of the 21st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, as a sergeant, to serve for three years. The regiment was recruited with men from the greater Worcester area, with Augustus Morse commissioned its first Colonel.
On the 3rd of August, the 21st was presented its national colors by the ladies of Worcester before the city hall, and then embarked by train to Norwich, Connecticut and thence to Annapolis, Maryland, where the regiment would remain until early 1862, soon after being assigned to General Ambrose Burnside’s Expedition to North Carolina.
Now under the command of Lt Col. Alberto C. Maggi, the regiment became actively involved, being engaged in the battles of Roanoke Island, Newbern, and Camden. In August, Hitchcock and the 21st embarked transports for Newport News, Va, and joined Ferrero’s Brigade, Reno’s Division of Burnside’s 9th Army Corps. The regiment reinforced Gen. Pope’s Army near Culpepper, Va and there on August 30, met the enemy again at the 2nd Bull Run, and a few days later, again suffered heavier losses at Chantilly.
By mid September the 21st fought at South Mountain and Antietam, Md, and in holding its position at the famous “Burnside Bridge,” it suffered heavily once again. Death, wounds, and resignations made place for promotion to 2nd Lieutenant for Henry Hitchcock on September 25, 1862. The next big test for the regiment came in December, and after much preparation another devastating battle on December 13th, took its toll on Federal troops at Fredericksburg, Va. Under extreme deadly fire from the Confederate positions on Marye’s Heights, the regiment lost nearly all of its color guard, with Sergeant Thomas Picket suffering the loss of both arms from a single cannon ball.
After a brief respite, the 21st Mass, along with the 9th Army Corps left Virginia on February 9th, 1863, and were stationed in Kentucky, and took part in the defense of Knoxville, Tennessee, against General Longstreet’s siege and assaults there during the period of November 17, to December 4, 1863. With little provisions of no more than a couple ears of corn, the matter of re-enlistments was entertained, and of the remaining 287 men left remaining in the regiment, 251 stayed on as enlisted veteran volunteers on January 1st, 1864. These men were entrained at Covington, Ky, for Massachusetts for a well deserved 30 day veteran furlough.
Returning to the seat of war, and numbering only 209 men at this time, they were soon fighting in the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, Shady Grove Church Road, Bethesda Church to June of 1864, losing another 24 casualties. Then the 21st was transferred to Petersburg, making its first assault on June 17th, and then again at the Crater fight (The Mine) on July 30th. It was here that 1st Lt. Hitchcock received a musket ball in the chest, ending his fighting in the Civil War.
There are many wonderful things in this collection that belonged to Henry Hitchcock; weapons and accoutrement, paper and photography, uniform, headgear, and insignia. It is perhaps the journal, begun at the beginning of his mustering in 1861, to the end of his time in Kentucky, that truly give this collection life. It would seem very little was left to ponder as Henry incorporated not only the mundane to the enlightening of camp life, along with the harsh reality of combat he covered remarkably well, being the 6 major engagments the 21st Massachusetts endured through the fall of 1863.
The journal discloses details about many of the men in his company, the officers he purchased items from after he was commissioned in the field in September of 1862. Henry Hitchcock is not a gifted writer, yet thorough in recording the facts of the Civil War as he lived it. This journal was used by the Historian and author of the History of the 21st Massachusetts, by Captain & veteran Charles F. Walcott. I have photographed several pages of the journal, and will provide insight to the degree of information available to the reader within. It is too comprehensive to begin to share here were time and space does not permit.
This collection is comprised from two sources; The James Stamatelos Collection, and another Civil War collection from Maryland. These were combined to restore as much as possible the fantastic that is this archive.
The collection consists of the following: A buff leather NCO shoulder rig with accoutrement plate, holding Hitchcock’s 1840 NCO sword, made by Ames, dated 1862, and an 1816 conversion bayonet for one of the thousands of 1816 flintlock muskets that were converted to percussion prior to the Civil War, and issued many of the state volunteers at the beginning of the war; a 1/9 plate tin type image of Hitchcock wearing these weapons, along with the 9th Army Corps badge in silver, pinned to the lining of the patriotic gutta perch case; the Journal, as mentioned, containing a southern newspaper, The Christian Banner, dated June 18, 1862 from Fredericksburg, a business card for the same city, and a CDV, presumably some relation to Hitchcock. The journal contain nearly two hundred pages which comprises most of the lined paper pages within. (This material originally came from the Stamatelos Collection; the balance being from another collection). The NCO sword and rig, along with the journal were most likely left home after the ’63 furlough, prior to returning to the war seven or so weeks later.
There is Hitchcock’s frock coat with small 1st Lieutenant’s shoulder straps. The frock is un-named, shows some service with hem of the cuffs having been trimmed with cotton material. The 9th Corps badge most likely is a veteran’s post war type; the trousers are most likely his first issue state trousers in dark blue, with some field repairs (stitching to torn areas), most interestingly, is the crude infantry officer’s “welt” sewn into the enlisted trousers. (the welt of wool material [a thin rounded piece sewn into the side seam usually less than a 1/4″] was used on officer’s trousers to signify his status as an officer and the color of course with denote the branch of service, in this case infantry-light blue). The welt is very generous in size exceeding that usually seen, done most likely in the field as well; the forage cap is mostly likely the same as seen in the NCO image of Hitchcock, but now faded from wear in the sun, and poor dye. It appears the cap was used when Hitchcock was a sergeant, then used as an officer with the small 21st Infantry insignia sewn on (darker blue under the badge protected from the sun. The cap, with its Mass Militia buttons saw further life in the 10th Massachusetts regiment following the war, into the 1870s, the numbers for the 10th remained, and the 21st insignia was stitched one later for display; another piece of bullion MVM embroidered insignia on black wool comes with the collection as well, most likely pre war; there are two sword sashes, one more faded that the other; a pair of Berlin gloves made of silk and toned with age; Henry’s boots are a fine quality leather, and a make I have not seen before. The upper leathers in the knee area are both stamped in a scroll, “New England.”
The accoutrements include a fine conditioned sword belt complete with all the straps, a private purchase pistol pouch and holster for a Colt 1862 Police revolver (not in the collection). His binoculars are unmarked, probably French made, having the original case, and lacking the shoulder strap. The binoculars have excellent optics, show field wear to leather and paint.
The other images are a CDV of Hitchcock in frock coat, regulation sky blue trousers and what appears to be the forage cap in the collect, with a larger officer’s embroidered insignia (note how the chinstrap buckle lines up just off center left, the image is identified in the reverse, ” Lieut. Henry S. Hitchcock, Co. “I” 21st Mass. Vols, Annapolis, Md, and dated March 7, 1863; a 1/9th plate tintype of Henry with another un-identified officer, both wearing slouch hats. Note the welt on Henry’s trousers being quite a bit more substantial that the other officer’s trouser welt, most likely these trousers in the collection (note also they are dark material); the last image, a 1/6th plate tintype, is another un-identified officer in leatherette case (cloth hinge broken).
Books and paper include; The New Testament of Our Lord And Saviour Jesus Christ, New York, American Bible Society, 1861. A small pocket testament that Henry took with him into the war, period pen annotations of the major engagements, Commanders, and dates listed up to the “Siege of Knoxville, Tenn.” The first flyleaf lists the three battles in North Carolina. Some staining to pages; next is The Holy Bible, Containing The Old And New Testaments, New York, American Bible Society, 1863. Identified in pencil on the flyleaf, ” Henry S. Hitchcock, 1st Lieut, 21 vet vol, March 9, 1864. This bible has been to bottom of James River.” Leather bound with fine gilt embossing and in good condition despite it dunking in the James.
Included is the uniform group and sword as shown belonging to 1st Lieutenant Henry S. Hitchcock; his 1840 NCO sword, and bayonet on shoulder belt r ( he mustered as the 3rd Sgt. in Company A, photo and corps badge, and an incredible journal begun in 1861 through Sept. of 1863. Bibles, binoculars, images, letters, and more. There are 20 plus letters written during the war and one just after by both Henry and one “Moses” that refers to himself as “brother,” obviously some family relation and a fellow in the regiment. Finally, there is a History of the Twenty- First Regiment, by Walcott, and a good sum of photocopied documents of Henry’s service and pensions records.
The journal records that Henry bought his first officer’s sword from a fellow officer in September of 1862. The sword in the collection was purchased by Henry, most likely when he had returned home on furlough after being in Tennessee for a good part of 1863. This sword, Made by C. Roby & Co., West Chelmsford, Mass. is a fine quality sword with mounted iron scabbard, hilt and mounting originally gilt (showing wear other than in protected areas, sharkskin grips, etc. The blade has the typical and finely etched Roby style grapes and vines, and the personalize panel that reads, “Henry S. Hitchcock, 1st Lt. 21st Mass. Vet.Vol.” Condition of the blade is excellent plus, with a great deal of original blue finish on iron scabbard; gilt as stated.
Henry S. Hitchcock received a minnie ball on the right side of the chest in the cartilage of the tenth rib, passed over the liver, three inched from the spine, and passed through the lower edge of the lung which caused aihim great difficulty in breathing and giving him the inability of working at his trade of carpentry. Having been a citizen of Templeton, Mass during the war, Henry removed to Fitchburg, Mass, a large community with the likely-hood of having more sources for medical treatment. The large portion of pension records and the on going saga of the wounding during the war, truly affected Henry for the rest of his life; sad but informative reading.
I have left off the in depth account of condition for every item. Generally, all items are very good and better. A call or email with specific question are welcome.
It is not impossible to find grouping as complete as this one, with its artifacts and written accounts, but surely not readily available on the market. A remarkable, historical collection.
Another history side note: The Civil War nurse, Clara Barton, knew many of the men in the 21st Massachusetts. More than 40 of them had been her students when she was a teacher before the war. She therefore took an acute interest in their welfare. During the Maryland Campaign, she visited frequently with the regiment and cared for its wounded during the Battle of Antietam. Sgt. Plunkett, the color bearer of the 21st who suffered such grievous wounds during the Battle of Fredericksburg, credited Barton with saving his life. She was at his side when he was first treated, personally arranged his transport home, and carried on correspondence with him after the war. Barton declared the 21st her favorite regiment and, in turn, the men of the 21st voted her a “daughter” of the regiment. (extracted from Wikipedia).
USPS (in 2 separate boxes) = $100.00