Civil War General’s Vest

Civil War General’s Vest – Surgeon William J. Dale

Brigadier Gen. William J. Dale

Civil War General’s Vest – Surgeon Wm. J. Dale -This fine quality linen vest was owned by Brigadier-General William J. Dale, the Surgeon-General of Massachusetts. General Dale was born in 1815; he was sent to North Andover, his mother’s ancestral home, for schooling at Franklin Academy. He later went to Andover and graduated from Harvard in 1837 and then Harvard Medical School. He married Sarah Frances Adams. A physician in Boston, he was significantly wealthy by 1860 when he was practicing medicine in Boston. He joined the U.S. Army, at the onset of the Civil War, rising to the rank of Brigadier General. He served as Asst. Surgeon General of the U.S. and, following the War, became Surgeon General of the State of Massachusetts. For these services, he held the title of General for his lifetime. After the war, he returned to his ancestral roots of North Andover, purchasing the old Johnson farm, which had been in his family since 1637. Here he developed a model farm specializing in milk production. The farm, styled The Homestead, still exists today on Dale Street.

This vest was made of a high quality linen, lined in a white cotton. It has six vest size, Eagle I buttons, all with D. Evans back marks. The vest size-adjuster straps, on the back of the vest, have a closure buckle dated “1866”. The vest has a Civil War period layover collar, as well as three pockets, also a Civil War period feature. This white linen vest is typical of the type a Civil War surgeon would have worn. It is conceivable that the post-war dated size-adjuster buckle was added after the war, as a replacement. Dr. Dale’s name is inked, in his hand, on the inside of one of the strap size adjusters, on the back of the vest. It reads: “Dr. W.J. Dale”. This vest remains in superior condition; it was recently deaccessioned from the collection of a renowned art museum. Dr. Dale was one of the foremost surgeons of the Civil War period. SOLD

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