Fifty-Sixth Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry
Three Years


Acton men who served in the 56th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry:

Samuel D. Bennett, Co. C (wounded)

Oscar Dwelley, Co. C (wounded; P.O.W.)

James R. Lawrence, Co. E

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

     The 56th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf., the First Veteran Regiment, was recruited during the fall and winter of 1863 at Camp Meigs, Readville, Mass. A majority of the men enlisting in this and the other veteran regiments must have had at least nine months service in some other organization. The first four companies of the 56th were mustered into the service just after Christmas, 1863, the others in January and February, 1864. Charles E. Griswold, formerly colonel of the 22d Massachusetts Regiment, was made colonel.
     The regiment left the State for Annapolis, Md., March 20, 1864. Here it was assigned to Carruth's (1st) Brigade, Stevenson's (1st) Division, Burnside's (9th) Corps. On the 23d of April, 1864, the corps received orders to march to Washington, near which city it remained two days. On April 27, it started for the Rappahannock, proceeding along the line of the Orange and Alexandria Railroad. Arriving at Bealeton Station, April 30, it remained in camp until the 4th of May when it marched for Germanna Ford on the Rapidan River, crossed at that point, and followed the rest of the Army of the Potomac into the Wilderness. All day long May 5 it was within a short distance of the roar and confusion of the battle which was raging. On the 6th Stevenson's Division was heavily engaged near the junction of the Brook and the Plank roads, the 56th losing Colonel Griswold and eight men killed, 57 wounded, and 11 missing. Lieut. Colonel Weld now took command of the regiment and was commissioned colonel to date from the day of this engagement.
     Moving to the left, the 9th Corps was in action on the Union left, near the Fredericksburg pike, at Spottsylvania, May 12, the 56th Regiment losing 10 killed, 41 wounded, and one missing. In the final assault on the Confederate lines, May 18, it suffered a further loss of five killed and 40 wounded. The division commander, Genl. Thomas G. Stevenson, had been killed by a sharpshooter May 10.
     Near Ox Ford on the North Anna River, May 24, the regiment suffered a further loss of seven killed, 40 wounded, and 17 prisoners. Moving thence to Cold Harbor, it was in action May 31 on the extreme Union right near Bethesda Church, losing one killed, 11 wounded, and one missing. Three days later, on June 3, it was again engaged, losing two killed and seven wounded.
     Crossing the James River, June 15, the 56th participated in the assault on Petersburg, June 17, losing 19 killed, 40 wounded, and five missing. During the next six weeks it lost six killed and 22 wounded by the fire of Confederate sharpshooters.
     At the "Crater" fight near Petersburg, July, 30, 1864, the 56th formed a part of Bartlett's Brigade, Ledlie's Division. This division led the advance after the Confederate fort was blown up. Here the 56th lost 10 killed, 25 wounded, and 22 prisoners. In less than two months after it crossed the Rapidan the regiment had lost in known and recorded casualties 68 killed, 283 wounded, and 57 prisoners.
     The regiment participated with loss in the battle of Weldon Railroad, Aug. 19, and at Poplar Grove Church or Peebles' Farm, Sept. 30. About the last of November it re moved to Fort Davis on the Jerusalem Plank road, where it remained until Dec. 12, when it was transferred to Fort Alexander Hays some distance to the left. Here it remained during the winter of 1864-65.
     On the morning of April 2, 1865, the 9th Corps, now under General Parke, joined in the assault on the Petersburg entrenchments, the 56th Regiment carrying and holding Battery 27, which had been built directly in front of Fort Sedgwick on and across the Jerusalem Plank road. In this assault the 56th lost Captain Randall of Co. "D" and two men killed and 13 officers and men wounded. After pursuing the enemy as far as Burkesville and there remaining until after the surrender of Lee, the regiment was sent to Alexandria, where it was mustered out July 12. Returning thence to Readville, Mass., on the 22d the regiment was paid off and discharged.


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

       Organized at Readville December 26, 1863, to February 24, 1864. Left State for Annapolis, Md., March 21; thence moved to Washington and Alexandria April 23. Attached to 1st Brigade, 1st Division, 9th Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to September, 1864. 2nd Brigade, 2nd Division, 9th Army Corps, to July, 1865.

    SERVICE--Campaign from the Rapidan to the James May 3-June 15, 1864. Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7; Spottsylvania May 8-12; Ny River May 10; Spottsylvania Court House May 12-21. Assault on the Salient May 12. North Anna River May 23-26. On 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, 1864, to April 2, 1865. Mine Explosion, Petersburg, July 30, 1864. Weldon Railroad August 18-21. Poplar Springs Church or Peeble's Farm September 29-October 2. Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher's Run, October 27-28. At Fort Hays January 1 to April 1, 1865. Fort Stedman March 25. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Assault on and fall of Petersburg April 2, Occupation of Petersburg April 3. Pursuit of Lee April 3-9. March to Petersburg and City Point April 18-22, thence moved to Alexandria April 23-25. Grand Review May 23. Duty at Washington and Alexandria until July. Mustered out July 12, 1865.

    Regiment lost during service 6 Officers and 120 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 100 Enlisted men by disease. Total 226.

See also:

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.

Weld, Stephen Minot. War Diary and Letters of Stephen Minot Weld, 1861-1865. The Riverside Press, 1912