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59th Massachusetts Infantry
in the Civil War

Regimental History
Fifty-ninth Infantry. — Col., Jacob P. Gould; Lieut.-Cols., John Hodges, Jr., Joseph Colburn; Majs., Joseph Colburn, Horace M. Warren, Ezra P. Gould. This regiment, the 4th veteran, was recruited at Readville during the winter and spring of 1863-64. Though numerically the last of the four veteran regiments, it was organized and left the state on April 26 — two days in advance of the 58th. It was mustered in by companies during the months of Jan., Feb., March and April, 1864, for three years, with a total enrollment of 56 officers and 906 enlisted men. It reached Washington on April 28, 1864, moved by way of Alexandria, Bealeton, Rappahannock and Brandy Stations to Germanna ford, where it was assigned to the 1st brigade, 1st division, 9th corps. On May 6, it engaged in the battle of the Wilderness, where its loss was 12 killed, Z7 wounded and 5 missing. Col. Gould was soon after placed in command of the brigade and the regiment, commanded by Lieut.-Col. Hodges, moved to Spottsylvania Court House, where it participated in the general action, meeting with a loss of 11 killed, 45 wounded and 3 missing. It was again in action with its division at the North Anna river, suffering a further loss of 38 in killed, wounded and missing. Moving to Cold Harbor it joined in the general assault on June 3, again meeting with considerable loss. It arrived before Petersburg on the morning of the 17th, and in the afternoon engaged in an assault upon the enemy's works, where it finally effected a lodgment, after a loss of 13 killed, 49 wounded and 8 missing. It was employed in strengthening its position and in picketing the front until July 30, when it participated in the fight at the Crater after the explosion of the mine. In common with the other troops engaged the 59th suffered severely, losing 8 killed, 25 wounded and 47 missing. It lost its 2 highest officers — Col. Gould, commanding a brigade, was wounded and died as a result on Aug. 22, and Lieut.-Col. Hodges was killed. The command of the regiment now devolved on the senior captain, Ezra P. Gould, who was commissioned major on Aug. 20, Major Colburn being appointed lieutenant-colonel, and the colonelcy remaining vacant by reason of the depleted state of the organization. It shared in the movement against the Weldon railroad and was again engaged in the battles of Peebles' farm and Poplar Spring Church. Throughout the autumn and winter, the regiment was in the trenches before Petersburg, occupying a position to the right of Fort Stedman. The position was close enough to the hostile lines to require underground bomb-proofs, and was besides so low and marshy as to require much effort before it could be rendered habitable. Lieut.-Col. Colburn went home on leave in Feb., 1865, and never returned, so that Maj. Gould was in command during the rest of the career of the regiment as a separate organization. It left the trenches on March 15, 1865, for a position in the rear of Fort Haskell, and bore an honorable part at Fort Stedman on the 25th, when it occupied Battery No. 11 and narrowly escaped capture by leaping the breastworks and retreating to Fort Haskell between the opposing lines of intrenchments. It returned to the trenches immediately after the engagement and was constantly under arms from this time on until the fall of Petersburg. Entering the captured stronghold on April 3, it remained encamped in the suburbs for a few days, but after Lee's surrender it was moved to the Southside railroad about 30 miles out, where it engaged in guard duty till the latter part of the month, when it was ordered to Washington, D. C, and encamped at Tenallytown during the remainder of its term of service. Both regiments being much depleted in numbers, it was consolidated with the 57th Mass. on June 20, to take effect from June 1, and was mustered out with that regiment on July 30. Like the other three veteran regiments, it had performed most gallant service throughout the closing and most bitterly contested campaign of the war. Like the others, too, only a pitiful remnant of the heroic band survived the trying ordeal.

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

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