First Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery
Three Years

Acton men who served in the 1st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery:

Samuel L. Dutton, Assistant Surgeon

Hiram W. Jones, Co. K


Regimental history from Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, compiled and published by the Adjutant General:

The 1st Regt. Mass. Vol. Hy. Arty. was a reorganization of the 14th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf. which was raised in Essex County in the summer of 1861. By Special Order No. 309, dated June 20, 1861, the various companies composing the 14th Regt. were directed to report at Fort Warren, Boston Harbor. Here the regimental organization was completed, and here on the 5th day of July the men were formally mustered into the United States service. William B. Greene of Haverhill, Mass., a West Point graduate, was commis­sioned colonel.

On Aug. 7 the Regiment left the State under orders to proceed to Harper's Ferry, but when it had arrived near Baltimore the orders were changed, and Washington City was named as its destination. This place was reached late in the evening, Aug. 10, and on the following afternoon the regiment was sent to Camp Kalorama on Meridian Heights north of the city.

After about a week at Camp Kalorama Colonel Greene was ordered to move his regiment across the Potomac to Fort Albany near Arlington. Here the regiment did garrison duty, furnishing details also for Forts Runyon and Jackson in the same vicinity.

Late in the year 1861 it was decided to enlarge the regiment and change it from infantry to heavy artillery. The change was officially accomplished under Special Order No. 1, War Department, dated Jany. 2, 1862, but the designation was not formally changed to 1st Regt. Mass. Vol. Hy. Arty. until the issue of Special Order No. 421, War Department, dated Sept. 19, 1863.

During the winter of 1861-62 the old companies were increased by the addition of 50 men each, and two new companies, "L" and" M," were recruited and their members mustered into the service during February and March, 1862. The entire regiment was employed during the spring and summer of 1862 in the defenses of Washington as a part of the command of Genl. James S. Wadsworth, garrisoning forts, strengthening fortifications, and doing other similar duties.

One diversion occurred during the latter part of August when the entire regiment marched to Cloud's Mills and beyond, finally advancing to a point a mile west of Fairfax Court House, and returning on the 29th to the forts near Arlington.

About the 27th of September, 1862, Companies" H" and" I" were sent under command of Major Rolfe to Maryland Heights near Harper's Ferry where they were joined in October by Co. "C" and in December by Co. "B." Here they were occupied in repairing the fortifications and their armament which were destroyed and abandoned by a part of the force under Col. D. S. Miles during the Antietam campaign. Here this battalion remained until the midsummer of 1863 when, during the Gettysburg campaign Company "I" was sent to Winchester to report to General Milroy. On Milroy's evacuation of Winchester Captain Martin [sic, William F. Martins] and Company "I" were left behind to spike the guns in the forts and destroy the ammunition, and in the performance of this duty the brave captain and 44 of his men were taken prisoners.

The remainder of the battalion was engaged in like duty at Maryland Heights and Fort Duncan, loading the best of the guns on canal boats and sending them down the Potomac, and destroying everything else of military value, in order to prevent the possibility of their falling into the hands of Lee's army which was then invading Maryland and Pennsylvania. After the retreat of the Confederate army into Virginia, Major Rolfe's battalion was sent back to Maryland Heights to restore the fortifications and to re-equip them with new guns received from Washington. Here the battalion remained until Nov. 30, 1863, when it was relieved and ordered to report to the regiment in front of Washington.

Colonel Greene having resigned in October, 1862, the command of the regiment had been given to Col. Thomas R. Tannatt formerly of the 16th Regiment. The eight com­panies left in front of Washington continued their duty of garrisoning forts on the Virginia side of the Potomac, and from the time of the return of Major Rolfe's battalion in Novem­ber, 1863, until the middle of May, 1864, the entire regiment was similarly employed. It was also engaged in repairing fortifications, building military roads, etc.

On May 14,1864, the order came to join the Army of the Potomac. Conveyed by trans­ports from Alexandria to Belle Plain, here on the 16th the regiment was assigned to Tyler's Division of heavy artillery, Colonel Tannatt commanding the 2d Brigade to which it was attached. On the 17th Tyler's Division marched to a position in front of the Confederate lines near Spottsylvania Court House, becoming a part of Hancock's (2d) Corps.

The battle of Harris Farm, near Spottsylvania, May 19, 1864, was the regiment's first major engagement. Here in a severe fight with Ewell's Corps in the fields to the west of the Harris farmhouse on the afternoon of that day it lost Major Rolfe and 54 men killed, 312 officers and men wounded, and 27 missing. Major Rolfe, who led the 1st Battalion in the action, fell pierced by eleven bullets.

At North Anna River, May 23-25, the regiment was in reserve and suffered no loss. In the Totopotomoyand Cold Harbor operations, May 31-June 12, the losses of the 1st Heavy were slight. Crossing the James on June 14, the regiment was engaged in the assault on the Petersburg intrenchments June 16, losing 25 killed, 132 wounded, and five missing. From the 17th to the 20th inclusive it suffered a further loss of four killed and over 50 wounded.

On June 22, while engaged in a movement to the left, it shared in the disaster to the 2d Corps, being assailed in flank and losing 10 killed, 46 wounded, and 179 captured. Among the killed was Captain Kimball.

Early in July the original members of the regiment were mustered out, their term of service having expired, and on the 8th they started for home. Ten days later Colonel Tannatt resigned.

The remnant of the regiment, about 200 men, was engaged in both expeditions to Deep Bottom in the summer of 1864, suffering only small loss. From this time until April, 1865, it was employed on the lines in front of Petersburg. In December it was called upon for special duty, joining the 5th Corps in a movement against the Weldon Railroad, and early in February, 1865, it took part in the expedition to Hatcher's Run.

On April 2 it was stationed near the Boydton Plank road and joined in the assault which broke the Confederate lines and forced the evacuation of Petersburg. Pursuing the re­treating enemy by way of High Bridge, it had reached a point within two miles of Ap­pomattox Court House when Lee surrendered.

After the surrender the regiment moved to Burkeville, whence, on May 2, it set out on its march northward, arriving at Bailey's Cross Roads within the defenses of Washington, May 15, exactly one year after it had started to join the Army of the Potomac. Early in June it was assigned the duty of garrisoning Forts Ethan Allen and Macy, and later in the month it was transferred to Forts Strong and C. F. Smith. On July 31 it was consolidated into a battalion of four companies and the supernumeraries were mustered out. All the remaining officers and men were mustered out Aug. 16, and on the following day they took transportation for Massachusetts. Arriving in Boston, Aug. 20, the battalion remained in camp at Galloup's Island, Boston Harbor, until Aug. 25, when the men were paid off and discharged.

In addition to all other casualties 178 of the officers and men of the regiment had died in Confederate prisons.

Regimental history from A Compendium of the War of the Rebellion, by Frederick Dyer:

    Organized as 14th Massachusetts Infantry July 5, 1861. Designation changed to 1st Heavy Artillery January 1, 1862. Attached to Wadsworth's Command, Military District of Washington, January to May, 1862. Whipple's Brigade, Military District of Washington, to December, 1862. Artillery, District of Alexandria, Defenses of Washington, to February, 1863. Artillery, District of Alexandria, 22nd Army Corps, to April, 1863. 1st Brigade, DeRussy's Division, 22nd Army Corps, to April, 1864. 2nd Brigade, DeRussy's Division, 22nd Army Corps, to May, 1864. 2nd Brigade, Tyler's Heavy Artillery Division, Army of the Potomac, to May, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to May, 1865. Defenses of Washington, 22nd Army Corps, to August, 1865. (Cos. "B," "C," "H" and "I" attached to Defenses of Upper Potomac, 8th Army Corps, Middle Department, October, 1862, to March, 1863. 2nd Brigade, 1st Division, 8th Army Corps, Middle Department, to June, 1863. Maryland Brigade, French's Command, 8th Army Corps, to July, 1863. Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac, to August, 1863. Unattached, Maryland Heights Division, Dept. of West Virginia, to December, 1863.)

    SERVICE--Garrison duty in the Defenses of Washington at Forts Albany, Runyon, Scott, Richardson, Barnard, Craig and Tillinghast until August 23, 1862, Moved to Cloud's Mills August 23. March to Manassas. Va., August 26-30. Return to Washington and garrison Forts Albany, Craig, Tillinghast, Woodbury and DeKalb, Defenses South of the Potomac until May, 1864. (Cos. "H" and "I" detached September 27, 1862, and moved to Harper's Ferry, W. Va. Co. "C" ordered to Harper's Ferry October 27, 1862. Co. "B" ordered to Harper's Ferry, W. Va., December 23, 1862; garrison duty there until July 1, 1863. Co. "I" moved to Winchester June 10, 1863, and participated in the Battle of Winchester June 13-15, and retreat to Harper's Ferry. Defense of Harper's Ferry June 16-July 1. Evacuation of Harper's Ferry and march to Frederick, Md, July 1-2. Duty with Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac, to July 11-22. Moved to Harper's Ferry July 22 and duty there until December 1, when ordered to Washington and rejoin Regiment.) Regiment moved to Join Army of the Potomac at Belle Plain, Va., May 15-16, 1864. Harris Farm, Fredericksburg Road, May 19. Spottsylvania Court House May 19-21. North Anna River May 23-26. Line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Cold Harbor June 1-12. Before Petersburg June 16-19. Siege of Petersburg June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. Jerusalem Plank Road June 22-23, 1864. Deep Bottom July 27-28. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30 (Reserve). Strawberry Plains August 14-18. Peeble's Farm September 29-October 2. Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28. Expedition to Weldon Railroad December 7-12. Dabney's Mills, Hatcher's Rain, February 5-7, 1865.Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Crow's House March 31. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Sailor's Creek April 6. High Bridge, Farmville, April 7. Appomattox Court House April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. March to Burkesville April 11-13 and duty there until May 2. March to Washington May 2-15. Camp at Bailey's Cross Roads until June 15. Grand Review May 23. Duty at Forts Ethan, Allen and Marcy until June 27. At Forts C. F. Smith and Strong until July 19. and at Fort Bunker Hill until August 17. Mustered out August 16, 1865, and discharged at Gallop's Island, Boston Harbor, August 25, 1865.

    Regiment lost during service 9 Officers and 232 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 241 Enlisted men by disease. Total 484.

See also:

Massachusetts artillery. 1st regt., 1861-1865. Souvenir: First Regiment of Heavy Artillery, Massachusetts Volunteers, Dedication of monument, May 19, 1901. n.p.

Roe, Alfred S. History of the First Regiment of Heavy Artillery, Massachusetts Volunteers, Formerly the Fourteenth Regiment of Infantry, 1861-1865. Published by the Regimental Association, 1917.

United States National Archives and Records Service. Compiled Records Showing Service of Military Units in Volunteer Union Organizations. Washington: National Archives and Records Service, n.d.