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Original Civil War Period Drawing of USCT Soldiers by Massachusetts Soldier


Original Civil War Period Drawing of USCT Soldiers by Massachusetts Soldier - Civil War period, folk art charcoal and gouache drawing on cardstock signed: “L. Finger. July 1863” on the lower right of the drawing. Inscribed and titled en verso “Made for C. H. B. by L. Finger, U.S. Blackgards (sic), Washington, 1862″. This fine folk art drawing depicts United States Colored Troops in a camp setting; three of the USCT soldiers are standing guard, with their weapons. One of the guards is standing by a structure, and one, in the left background, appears to be standing at a parade rest position. Three guards, with their muskets, stand prominently at the center of the drawing. There is a missing section of paper along the left side of the drawing, but little of the actual subject matter is impacted. The drawing measures as follows:  6 1/2″ H x 7 3/4″ W.

We discovered that the artist, Louis Finger, was a nautical instrument maker from Cambridgeport, Massachusetts, who enlisted, as a private, in August of 1862, into the 1rst Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. He was wounded in action, at the Battle of Spotsylvania, on May 19, 1864, and he mustered out in July of that same year. During his unit’s tenure in the D.C. area star forts, Finger must have sketched the drawing of the USCT troops.

Louis Finger

Residence Cambridgeport MA; a 30 year-old Nautical Inst. Maker. Enlisted on 8/5/1862 as a Private.

On 8/5/1862 he mustered into “E” Co. MA 1st Heavy Artillery He was Mustered Out on 7/8/1864 (MO while absent wounded)

He was listed as: * Wounded 5/19/1864 Spotsylvania Court House, VA Other Information:died 9/10/1885 in Melrose, MA






     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 5thday 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 toproceed 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 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 Totopotomoy and 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.



1st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery


1st Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery
Active Spring 1861 to August 1865
Country United States of America
Allegiance Union
Branch United States Army
Type Heavy artillery
Size 2552

The 1st Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Heavy Artillery was a unit that served in the Union Army during the American Civil War. It was originally raised as the 14th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.




14th Mass Infantry

The 14th Massachusetts Infantry began its recruitment in spring 1861, with most of its members coming from Essex County. They were mustered in on 5 July 1861, and left the state on 7 August for Washington, DC, where it would serve in its defenses until the end of the year. Colonel William B Greene, a West Point graduate and a veteran of the Florida Indian Wars, resigned in October, and was replaced as leader of the unit by Col Thomas R Tannatt, who transferred over from the 16th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

Reorganization as artillery[

On 1 January 1862, the regiment was reorganized and became a heavy artillery regiment. As artillery units required more men, fifty additional soldiers were added to each company and two additional ones were formed. They served in several military garrisons around Washington, including forts Woodbury, Tillinghast, Craig, Albany, and DeKalb.

Early skirmishes

On 26 August 1862, the regiment was sent to the front, and was present at the Second Battle of Bull Run, though it did not participate. During the Union retreat from the battlefield, Confederate cavalry overtook the 1st Massachusetts, capturing the surgical staff, the wagoners, and others. The doctors were quickly released, while the others were later paroled.[1]

A battalion of two companies were detached (two more joined a month or two later) on 27 September 1862 and sent to Maryland Heights, where they were to serve until December 1863. When the Union army abandoned its position at Winchester, VA in June 1863, Company I stayed behind to destroy the guns and ammunition, and 44 men were captured on 10 June. At this time, Company H was covering the army’s retreat from Harpers Ferry.[2]

First engagement

On 17 May 1864, many heavy artillery regiments filled in as infantry units and joined the Army of the Potomac as part of Grant’s 1864 campaign. In their first real engagement as a regiment, they engaged Ewell’s Division at Harris Farm, on the Fredericksburg Road near Spotsylvania, VA on 19 May 1864. In this battle, they lost 55 killed, 312 wounded, and 27 missing.[3] In reserve during the Battle of North Anna on 23–26 May 1864, losing only 1 killed, they moved on to Cold Harbor, losing two members during the trench warfare there from 4–12 June.

Siege of Petersburg

The regiment took part in the assault on Petersburg on the 16 June 1864, and lost 25 killed and 132 wounded. They remained as part of the siege of the city until April 1865. During this time, they were also involved in the Battle of Globe Tavern (or the 2nd Battle of Weldon Railroad), when 185 men were captured when a Confederate offensive flanked the division, and the Battle of Hatcher’s Run.

Lee’s surrender

Following Lee’s surrender in April 1865, the 1st Massachusetts Heavy Artillery returned to Washington, DC and stationed the forts until they were mustered out in August. They returned to Boston on the 20th, and were encamped at Gallop’s Island until the 25th, when they were paid and discharged.


Through its four years of service, the regiment had a total of 2552 soldiers in its ranks, consisting of 24 field officers and staff, 111 line officers, and 2417 enlisted men.[2]


A total of 486 officers and men were lost, 215 of them killed or died of wounds, 115 died by disease or accident, 156 died as prisoners, and four dead listed as MIA.



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