53rd Massachusetts History

A Brief History of the Service of the 53rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry

"The Fifty-third Regiment was in the Department of the Gulf. It arrived at New Orleans January 30, 1863, after a stormy passage.

"It encamped at Carrollton, reporting to Brigadier General Emory, and attached to the Third Brigade, Third Division; and was employed six weeks in improving the drill and discipline of the regiment.

"On the 6th of March, the Fifty-third was ordered to Baton Rouge, and, on the 12th, was sent on a reconnoissance up the river, where it encountered, and drove in, the enemy's pickets. On the 13th, it marched with the division in the expedition to Port Hudson; but arriving after the object of the expedition was accomplished, it returned to Baton Rouge, where it remained till April 1, and was ordered to Algiers with the rest of the division, and, on the 9th, took passage for Brashear City, to join in the movement through the Teche country, which began April 11. The enemy having been encountered at Pattersonville on the 13th, the Fifty-third was engaged in supporting a battery, and skirmishing towards the fortifications, when it was under fire of musketry and shell five hours. The flag of the Fifty-third was the first to be place upon the ramparts of Fort Brisland.

"The regiment lost in this action, one officer and thirteen privates, killed and wounded. But eight companies were engaged, two being on detatched service.

"On the 15th, it marched with the division in pursuit of the retreating enemy, with an occasional skirmish, and reached Opelousas on the 20th, where it remained a fornight, employed in drill and picket duty.

"May 24. - The army having moved towards Port Hudson, the Fifty-third was detailed as guard for the engineer corps, and led the column. Encountering the enemy's skirmishers, the regiment was immediately moved forward; three companies, thrown out as skirmishers, soon became engaged with the enemy, and succeeded in driving them back, so that the engineer corps could proceed in its labors.

"May 27. - The day of the general attack upon Port Hudson, the regiment was ordered forward, and was soon under fire of shot and shell. It moved to the front to support a battery, and to the front line of skirmishers. It lost at this time thirty killed and wounded.

"May 28. - It joined the brigade, and remained until June 1, engaged in picket duty, and fortifying the position; it was then ordered to occupy riflepits at the front, and sustained a loss of five men, killed and wounded.

"June 5. - It marched as a part of the expedition to Clinton, which occupied four days, and resulted in driving the enemy from that locality. On the 13th it was ordered to join in the assault upon the fortifications at Port Hudson. This assault cost the regiment heavily. Of the three hundred officers and men (being but eight companies) who were sent in, seven officers and seventy-nine men were killed and wounded.

"On the 19th of June, the Fifty-third was ordered to the front in support of a battery, where it remained till the surrender of Port Hudson, July 9. It was then ordered on picket duty five miles from Port Hudson, when it marched with the brigade to Baton Rouge. On the 15th it embarked for Donaldsonville and remained in camp, engaged in drill and picket duty until August 2 when it returned to Baton Rouge, and, on the 12th, was ordered to Massachusetts via Cairo. It arrived at Cairo August 19, and at Fitchburg, Mass., the 24th, where, after a public reception, it was furloughed one week, and mustered out of service September 2, by Captain I. R. Lawrence.

"Died: 146; Killed: 18; Discharged: 54; Prisioners: 0; Deserted: 21"

From History of Massachusetts in the Civil War, by William Schouler, pp 471-473, E. P. Dutton and Co., publisher, 1868.

Compiled by Walter G. Blenderman;

Prepared 10/16/1996; updated 11/2/1997; code revised 5/2/2000

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