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53rd Massachusetts Infantry
in the Civil War

Regimental History
Fifty-third Infantry. — (Militia.) Col., John W. Kimball; Lieut.- Col., George H. Barrett; Maj., James A. Pratt. This regiment was recruited from the towns of northern Worcester and Middlesex counties, and rendezvoused at Camp Stevens, Groton Junction. The various companies were mustered into service from Oct. 17, 1862, to Nov. 6, for nine months, the field and staff officers being commissioned on Nov. 8, but were not mustered until the regiment reached New York in December. The number on the regimental rolls was 44 officers and 910 enlisted men. It lost during service 5 officers and 23 enlisted men killed in action; 140 men by accident or disease; and 21 men deserted. It left for New York Nov. 29, to join the Banks expedition then forming in that city, and sailed for Louisiana, Jan. 18, 1863, reaching Carrollton on the 31st. It was assigned to the 3d brigade (Col. Gooding), 3d division (Gen. Emory), 19th corps. After spending six weeks in camp it moved on March 6 to Baton Rouge and on the 12th participated in a reconnaissance 5 miles up the river along the Bayou Sara road. On the 14th it moved with its division toward Port Hudson, returning to Baton Rouge the next day, after Adm. Farragut had run the batteries with a portion of his fleet. In April it took part in the Bayou Teche expedition; was actively engaged at Fort Bisland, where it lost 3 killed and 11 wounded, and was the first regiment to plant its colors over the fort. It followed in pursuit of the enemy to Opelousas, where it halted until May 5, and then proceeded with the rest of the column to Alexandria, marching 100 miles in four days. On May 15 it started on the retrogade movement, and finally reached Port Hudson on the 23d. The following day it served as advance guard for the engineer corps, engaged in selecting a route through the forest. It participated in the assault on May 27, holding a position within 200 feet of the enemy's intrenchments for more than 24 hours and meeting with some loss. On June 5-8 it was engaged in an expedition toward Clinton, and on the 14th formed part of the storming column of that day, making a gallant charge up to the enemy's works, and losing 18 killed and 68 wounded, out of 300 present. Resting until the 19th, it again went to the front and occupied an advanced position until the surrender of Port Hudson. It then served on picket duty for two days, moving to Baton Rouge on July 11 and to Donaldsonville on the 15th. It encamped here until Aug. 2, when it returned to Baton Rouge. Two companies had been on detached duty throughout the whole campaign. Co. B, detached April 8, 1863, and Co. K, March 10, served as division and corps pioneers during the Teche expedition and the siege of Port Hudson. These companies rejoined the regiment at Donaldsonville and Baton Rouge. On Aug. 12 the command started home, going by way of Cairo, Ill., and arrived at Fitchburg, Mass., Aug. 24. It was mustered out at Camp Stevens Sept. 2, 1863. No other short-term regiment lost so many men killed in action.

Regimental history taken from "The Union Army" by Federal Publishing Company, 1908 - Volume 1

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