Acton Memorial Library
Acton men who served in the 21st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry:
William H. Sawyer, Co. K (wounded)
Regimental history from Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, compiled and published by the Adjutant General:
The 21st Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf. was made up of companies raised in the central and western part of the State in the summer of 1861. It rendezvoused at Camp Lincoln, Worcester, Mass., Companies A, D, and G arriving in camp July 19 and being mustered in to date from that day. The rest of the regiment was mustered in on or before August 23. Its first colonel was Augustus Morse of Leominster, who had been major general of the old 3d Division, Mass. Vol. Mil. On August 23 the regiment marched to the city hall, where it was presented with a national flag by the ladies of the city of Worcester, after which it entrained to Norwich, Conn., on its way to the seat of war. A week later it arrived at Annapolis, Md., remaining in that vicinity until Jan. 9, 1862, when it was assigned to the Burnside expedition to North Carolina.
Under command of Lieut. Col. Alberto C. Maggi it formed a part of Reno's Brigade of Burnside's Coast Division, Army of the Potomac. It was engaged in the battles of Roanoke Island, Feb. 8, Newbern, Mar. 14, and Camden, April 19, losing in these three actions in North Carolina 40 officers and men killed or mortally wounded.
On August 5, 1862, the regiment re-embarked and three days later reached Newport News, Va., where it became a part of Ferrero's Brigade, Reno's Division, Burnside's (9th) Corps. As such it was sent to reinforce Gen. Pope's army near Culpepper. It was present at 2d Bull Run, Aug. 30, suffering slight loss, but at Chantilly, Sept. 1, it was heavily engaged and lost 38 men killed or mortally wounded.
At South Mountain, Sept. 14, Gen. Sturgis being in command of the division and Gen. Reno of the corps, the 21st was engaged near Fox's Gap. At Antietam, Sept. 17, it helped to carry the Burnside Bridge and lost heavily. At Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, it participated in the assaults, suffering severe losses. Here the color bearer, Thomas Plunkett, lost both his arms.
On Feb. 9, 1863, the regiment left its camp at Falmouth and accompanied the 9th Corps into Kentucky, being stationed at Mount Stirling, Lexington, Nicholasville, Camp Nelson, and other places. Here it became a part of the 1st Brigade of the 2d Division and as such took part in the defense of Knoxville, Tenn., against Longstreet's siege and assaults, Nov. 17 to Dec. 4,1863. The siege being raised, on the 26th and 27th of December, 1863, when but two ears of corn a day were being issued as rations, the question of re-enlistment was proposed. Between Dec. 29, and Jany. 1, 251 out of the 287 men in the regiment re-enlisted at Blain's Cross Roads, and were mustered in at Covington, Ky., to date from Jany. 1, 1864. The regiment then proceeded via Camp Nelson, Nicholasville, and Covington, Ky., to Cincinnati, Ohio, where on Jany. 29, the re-enlisted men entrained for Massachusetts to enjoy a veteran furlough of 30 days which was finally extended to about seven weeks.
On March 20, 1864, the veteran 21st again assembled at Annapolis, Md., its old rendezvous in the early winter of 1861-62. In the reorganization of the 9th Corps the 21st, now under Lieut. Col. George P. Hawkes, was made a part of Leasure's (2d) Brigade, Stevenson's (1st) Division.
The regiment, now numbering only 209 men, was engaged at the Wilderness, May 6, at Spottsylvania, May 12 and 18, on the Shady Grove Church Road, May 31, and June 1, and at Bethesda Church (near Cold Harbor), June 2, losing in the campaign 24 in killed and mortally wounded. Transferred to the front of Petersburg it was in the assault of June 17, and in the Crater fight on July 30. August 18, the officers and men whose time was out left for home, and the regiment was reduced to a battalion of three companies under Capt. Orange S. Sampson. At Weldon Railroad, Aug. 19, and at Poplar Spring Church, Sept. 30, the battalion was engaged with loss, Capt. Sampson being killed Sept. 30. This was its last battle as a separate unit. By General Order of Oct. 21, 1864, the three companies of the 21st Battalion were consolidated with the seven companies to which the 36th Regt. had been reduced and served with that regiment until the close of its term. The men whose time had not then expired were transferred to the 56th Regt. and mustered out with that regiment, July 12, 1865.
Regimental history from A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, by Frederick Dyer:
Organized at Worcester July 19 to August 19, 1861. Moved to Baltimore, Md., August 23-25; thence to Annapolis, Md., August 29; and duty there until January 6, 1862. Attached to Reno's 2nd Brigade, Burnside's Expeditionary Corps, to April, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, Dept. of North Carolina, to July, 1862. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to April, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Dept. of the Ohio, to June, 1863. Unassigned, 1st Division, 23rd Army Corps, Dept. of the Ohio, to October, 1863. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, Dept. of the Ohio, to April, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to June, 1863. 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps, to September, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps, to October, 1864.
SERVICE.--Burnside's Expedition to Hatteras Inlet January 6-February 7, 1862. Battle of Roanoke Island February 8. At Roanoke Island until March 11. Moved to New Berne March 11-13. Battle of New Berne March 14. Expedition to Elizabeth City April 17-19. Battle of Camden, South Mills, April 19. Duty at New Berne until July 6. Expedition to Pollocksville to relief of 2nd Maryland, May 17. Moved to Newport News, Va., July 6-9; thence to Fredericksburg August 2-4. March to relief of Gen. Pope August 12-15. Pope's Campaign in Northern Virginia August 16-September 2. Battles of Groveton August 29. Bull Run August 30, and Chantilly September 1. Maryland Campaign September-October. Battles of South Mountain September 14, and Antietam September 16-17. At Pleasant Valley, Md., until October 27. Movement to Falmouth, Va., October 27-November 17. Warrenton, Sulphur Springs, November 15. Battle of Fredericksburg December 12-15. "Mud March" January 20-24, 1863. At Falmouth until February 19. Moved to Newport News, Va., and duty there until March 26. Moved to Covington, Ky., March 26-April 1. At Paris, Ky., April 1-5. At Mt. Sterling until July 6, and at Camp Nelson until September 12. March to Knoxville September 12-20. Operations in East Tennessee October 22-November 4. Knoxville Campaign November 4-December 23. Campbell's Station December 16. Siege of Knoxville November 17-December 4. Pursuit of Longstreet December 5-29. Reenlisted December 29. Veterans absent on furlough January to March, 1864. Moved to Annapolis, Md., and Join 9th Army Corps. Campaign from the Rapidan to the James May-June. Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7. Spottsylvania May 8-12. Ny River May 10. Spottsylvania C. H. May 12-21. Assault on the Salient May 12. North Anna River May 23-26. Ox Ford May 24. Line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Cold Harbor June 1-12. Bethesda Church June 1-3. Before Petersburg June 16-18. Siege of Petersburg June 16-October 21. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30. Non-Veterans left front August 18 and mustered out August 30. 1864. Weldon Railroad August 18-21. Poplar Springs Church, Peeble's Farm, September 29-October 2. Veterans and Recruits transferred to 36th Massachusetts Infantry October 21, 1864.
Regiment lost during service 11 Officers and 148 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 89 Enlisted men by disease. Total 250.
Stearns, William A. Adjutant Stearns. Boston: Massachusetts Sabbath School Society, 1862. https://archive.org/details/adjutantstearns00st
Stone, James Madison. Personal Recollections of the Civil War. Boston: Published by the author, 1918. https://archive.org/details/personalrecollec00stone; https://archive.org/details/personalrecollec00stoneja
Walcott, Charles F. History of the Twenty-First Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteers, in the War for the Preservation of the Union, 1861-1865: with Statistics of the War and of Rebel Prisons. Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1882. https://archive.org/details/21stregiment00walcrich; https://archive.org/details/01635040.3095.emory.edu