Fitchburg Fusileers Button Company B, 15th Massachusetts Infantry - Inventory Number: BUT 158
Massachusetts Button, Fitchburg Fusileers, Company B, 15th Massachusetts Infantry - "FF", R & W Robinson Extra Rich,
Button depicts "FF" surrounded by a wreath, Fitchburg Fusileers served as Company B 15th Massachusetts Infantry. Their service was heroic, after four years of hard fighting, many of the participants were dead or sick. Backmark: "R & W. ROBINSON / (star) EXTRA RICH (star)" dm, inner solid ring. Two part convex button, coat size. Stand up shank. In excellent condition.
Reference: Albert MS88, Tice MS246A1
During the war, the 15th Massachusetts Regiment sustained the 10th-highest number of men killed or fatally wounded in action among all 1,200 Federal regiments. Its losses at several engagements are as follows:
Ball's Bluff, Va., October 21, 1861: 40 killed or fatally wounded, 70 wounded, 202 captured (312 out of 650 engaged)
Antietam, Md., September 17, 1862: 104 killed or fatally wounded, 206 wounded, 14 captured (324 of 600 engaged)
Gettysburg, Pa., July 2–3, 1863: 37 killed or fatally wounded, 94 wounded, 24 captured (155 out of 239 engaged)
Wilderness, Va., May 5–6, 1864: 16 killed or fatally wounded, 51 wounded, 17 captured (of whom 6 died in prison)
In sum, 14 officers and 227 enlisted men were killed or fatally wounded during the course of the war.
FIFTEENTH REGIMENTMASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEER INFANTRY THREE YEARS
The 15th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf. was recruited in Worcester County, the Leominster and Fitchburg units being old militia companies, while the others were raised by voluntary assemble at Camp Scott, Worcester, and there, July 12, the regiment was mustered into the United States service with Charles Devens, Jr., major of the old 3d Battalion Rifles, as its colonel.
The regiment left Camp Scott for Washington, D. C., August 8, and on the 27th arrived at Poolesville, Md. where it was attached to Gen. Charles P. Stone's command. It was active in guarding the Potomac from Conrad's Ferry to Harrison's Island until October 21, 1861, when it led the advance to Ball's Bluff, losing in that action over 300 men of whom 44 were killed or mortally wounded. The winter of 1861-62 was spent near Poolesville, over 200 recruits being received before spring opened.
In February Gen. John Sedgwick was given command of the division, while Gen. Willis A. Gorman was assigned to the brigade. After a short time spent in the Shenandoah Valley the regiment was sent to the Peninsula, where Sedgwick's Division became a part of Sumner's (2d) Corps. It participated in the siege of Yorktown, and in the battle of Fair Oaks May 31, and was under fire at Savage's Sta., Glendale, and Malvern Hill with slight loss. The 1st Company of Sharpshooters became attached to the regiment at Yorktown and continued with it for over a year.
After spending most of July and August at Harrison's Landing, on the 28th of August the regiment reached Alexandria and helped to cover Pope's retreat from Second Bull Run. In early September it joined in the advance to Frederick and South Mountain. At Antietam, September 17, the 15th was outflanked in the West Wood and in twenty-seven minutes lost atotal of 318 officers and men, or over 50% of the number engaged, 98 being killed or mortally wounded. During the Peninsular campaign and at Antietam the regiment was commanded by Lieut. Col. John W. Kimball.
At Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 1862, Gen. Sully commanded the brigade and Gen. Howard the division, Gen. Couch commanding the 2d Corps. Here the 15th was engaged but with small loss. The winter of 1862-63 was spent in camp near Falmouth.
During the Chancellorsville campaign in May, 1863, Gen. Gibbon being in command of the division, the 15th was in the reserve at Fredericksburg and suffered slight loss. At Gettysburg, July 2 and 3, 1863, as a part of Harrow's Brigade, Gibbon's Division, Hancock's (2d) Corps, the regiment was heavily engaged on the Union left centre losing its colonel, George H. Ward, and 36 officers and men killed or mortally wounded.
On October 14, 1863, the regiment was engaged at Bristoe Station covering the retirement of the army toward Centreville. It was engaged near Robertson's Tavern in the Mine Run expedition Nov. 27, and on its return from Mine Run went into winter quarters near Stevensburg.
At the Wilderness, May 5 and 6, 1864, Gen. Webb being in command of the brigade, the 15th was engaged on the Plank road with loss. At Spottsylvania, May 12, it was in Hancock's assault on the Bloody Angle again losing heavily. Its losses at North Anna, Totopotomoy, and Cold Harbor reduced the regiment to 5 officers and about 70 enlisted men. On June 22 when the 2d Corps was outflanked near the Jerusalem Plank road the entire regiment save one officer and five men were taken prisoners. These with those who returned from hospitals or from detached service were attached to the 20th Mass. of the same brigade until July 12, when the remnant of the regiment was sent home, arriving in Worcester, Mass., July 21, where on the 26th nine companies were mustered out of the service. Co. I, which had a little longer to serve, was mustered out August 6, and the regiment ceased to exist. Few Massachusetts units had as gallant a history as the 15th Infantry.
Antietam after battle report:
Report of Lieut. Col. John W. Kimball Fifteenth Massachusetts Infantry, of the battle of Antietam.
HEADQUARTERS FIFTEENTH REGIMENT, MASS, VOLS., Camp near Sharpsburg, September 20, 1862.
CAPT.: I have the honor to report that on Wednesday, 17th instant, at 7 o'clock a. m., I was ordered to hold my command in readiness to move at a moment's notice. At 7.30 o'clock we took up our line of march with 582 muskets, including First Company Andrew Sharpshooters, Capt. J. Saunders, attached to this command, being the third regiment in the brigade line. We moved in a direct line toward the ground held by the forces under command of Gen. Hooker, fording, in the march, Antietam Creek.
On reaching the field, a line of battle was formed, in which my command occupied the position of third regiment of the first line. We then moved forward in line under a severe artillery fire about one mile over the ground gained by Gen. Hooker, passing fences, fields, and obstacles of various descriptions, eventually occupying a piece of woods, directly in front of which, and well covered by the nature of the ground, field of grain, hay-stacks, buildings, and a thick orchard, were the enemy in strong force.
At this time we were marching by the right-oblique, in order to close an interval between my command and that of Col. Hudson, Eighty-second New York Volunteers, and as we gained the summit of a slight elevation my left became hotly engaged with the enemy, covered as before mentioned, at a distance of not more than 15 yards. A section of the enemy's artillery was planted upon a knoll immediately in front of and not more than 600 yards distant from my right wing. This was twice silenced and driven back by the fire of my right wing, concentrated upon it. The engagement lasted between twenty and thirty minutes, my line remaining unbroken, the left wing advancing some 10 yards under a most terrific infantry fire.
Meanwhile the second line of the division, which had been halted some 30 or 40 yards in our rear, advanced until a portion of the Fifty-ninth Regiment New York Volunteers, Col. Tidball, had closed upon and commenced firing through my left wing on the enemy. Many of my men were by this maneuver killed by our own forces, and my most strenuous exertions were of no avail either in stopping this murderous fire or in causing the second line to advance to the front. At this juncture Gen. Sumner came up, and his attention was immediately called by myself to this terrible mistake. He immediately rode to the right of the Fifty-ninth Regiment, ordered the firing to cease and the line to retire, which order was executed in considerable confusion.
The enemy soon appeared in heavy columns, advancing upon my left and rear, pouring in a deadly cross-fire on my left. I immediately and without orders ordered my command to retire, having first wit nested the same movement on the part of both the second and third lines. We retired slowly and in good order, bringing off our color stand a battle-flag captured from the enemy, reforming by the orders of Gen. Gorman in a piece of woods some 500 yards to the rear, under cover of our artillery. This position was held until I was ordered to support a battery planted upon the brow of a hill immediately in our rear, the enemy having opened again with artillery. His fire being silenced, the position was held throughout the day. I desire to say that my entire regiment behaved most gallantly during the engagement, evincing great coolness and bravery, as my list of casualties will show. Although suffering terribly from the fire of the enemy, it was with great surprise that received the order to retire, never entertaining for a moment any idea but that of complete success, although purchased at the cost of their lives. The order forbidding the carrying wounded men to the rear was obeyed to the very letter.
Of my line officers, without exception, I cannot speak in too high praise. They were all at their posts, bravely and manfully urging on their men, and equally exposed with them. Those wounded refused all assistance, ordering their men to return to the ranks and do their duty.
I desire to call your particular attention to Maj. Philbrick and Adjutant Hooper. They were with me during the entire engagement in the thickest of the fight, receiving and executing my orders with great coolness and promptitude.
I herewith append a list of the casualties in the late engagement.
Officers killed: Capt. C. S. Simonds, Capt. J. Saunders, First Lieut. R. Derby, First Lieut. William Berry, First Lieut. F. S. Corbin. Officers wounded: Capt. W. Forehand, slight; Capt. G. C. Joslin, severe; Capt. A. Bartlett, slight; First Lieut. Thomas J. Spurr, severe; First Lieut. L. H. Ellingwood, severe; Second Lieut. W. Gale, slight; Second Lieut. A. J. Bradley, slight. Enlisted men killed, 60; wounded, 238; missing, 38.
Officers killed and wounded, 12. Enlisted men killed, wounded, and missing, 336. Total, 348.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
JOHN W. KIMBALL, Lieut.-Col., Commanding.
Capt. J. GORMAN, Assistant Adjutant-Gen.
Chancellorsville, VA after battle report:
Report of Maj. George C. Joslin, Fifteenth Massachusetts Infantry.
CAMP NEAR FALMOUTH, VA., May 7, 1863.
LIEUT.: I have the honor to report that at 11 o'clock on the night of the 2d instant, I received orders to have my command in complete readiness to move at a moment's notice, with muskets loaded. At about midnight, the regiment took the position assigned it (at the head of the column), and marched to the rear of the Lacy house, opposite the city of Fredericksburg, and remained at rest until sunrise. The call for 25 volunteers for special service was promptly met and the men furnished.
Soon after sunrise, the regiment marched, left in front, across the pontoon bridge into the city of Fredericksburg, and stacked arms in a street running parallel with the river, and to the right of the city. From this position the regiment marched to the right, across an open plain, commanded by the earthworks of the enemy. The enemy now opened upon the column with their artillery with very accurate aim, but the men marched steadily and without disorder, although shells were bursting directly above their heads. My command marched as far to the right as it was possible to go, as a bridge, which crossed the canal at this point, had been destroyed. Remained in line of battle awaiting orders, the men having excellent cover. Two companies were ordered forward to fell the enemy, and, having discovered the position and force of the enemy, returned without loss, although several shots were fired at them.
Upon the evacuation of the rifle-pits by the enemy, caused by the success of our forces on the left, I was ordered to return to the city, and recrossed the before-mentioned plain, again under artillery fire. Marched through the city and to the heights beyond, just occupied by our forces. After a short rest, ordered to return to the city and await orders.
At 3.30 p.m. ordered to recross the river and support a battery which was placed in position to protect the upper pontoon bridge. My command has remained in this position until date, awaiting further orders.
The loss sustained by my regiment was very slight, being but 2 men slightly wounded. Some prisoners were captured by my men and sent to headquarters. No property was lost save that belonging to the wounded men, and nothing captured from the enemy.
The officers and men of my command behaved well, both on the march and under fire, and at the close of the day no men were absent or unaccounted for.
I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. C. JOSLIN, Maj., Cmdg. Fifteenth Massachusetts Volunteers.
Lieut. ANDREW LEVERING, Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen.
Gettysburg after battle report:
Reports of Lieut. Col. George C. Joslin, Fifteenth Massachusetts Infantry.
In the Field, July 11, 1863.
Sir: I have the honor to make the following report of the part taken by the Fifteenth Regt. Massachusetts Volunteers in the action of July 2 and 3, at Gettysburg, Pa.:
Early on the morning of the 2d, we moved from our place of bivouac, immediately in the rear of the First Minnesota, and took our position in close column by regiments near the battle-field, stacked arms, and remained until about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, when the enemy opened fire from their batteries. Col. Ward, who had been in command of the brigade, was here relieved, and took command of the regiment, and moved by order of Gen. Harrow to the front of our batteries, and took position on the right of the Eighty-second New York, their left resting near a brick house about 200 yards to the front, nothing connecting on our right. Here we built a small breastwork of rails behind the fence, during which time the enemy were being engaged on our left and a rapid picket firing in our front. We remained in this position about half an hour, when the pickets were driven in, and the Eighty-second New York became engaged. Upon the approach of the enemy, their batteries in our rear opened fire with grape and canister, by which we lost a large number killed and wounded.
At this time the Eighty-second New York fell back, exposing our left and rear to a deadly fire from the rebel infantry. Here Colonel Ward received wounds from which he has since died. We now opened a rapid fire, but being left alone could hold the position but a short time, when we retired in some disorder, being pressed so closely that we lost quite a number of prisoners, captured by the enemy. We reformed our line in rear of the batteries, and rejoined the brigade, which was moved after dark to the front line, and took position on the left of the First Minnesota, which was the extreme left of the brigade, where we remained until about 2.30 p. m. of the following day.
About 1 p. m. the enemy opened a heavy fire of artillery upon our lines, during which we lost 1 man killed and 2 wounded. Soon after, an attack of infantry was made by the enemy on the right of our lines, and we moved by the right flank a short distance and became hotly engaged. After about an hour's fighting, the enemy were repulsed, during which engagement the regiment sustained a heavy loss. After about an hour, we were ordered to our former position and from there deployed to the front as skirmishers, where we remained until relieved, about 8 a. m. the next day, our ammunition being expended. During the skirmish we lost 2 men wounded.
We went into action with 18 officers and 221 men. During the three days, our loss in killed was 3 officers, 19 enlisted men; wounded, 8 officers and 85 enlisted men; missing, 28 enlisted men, supposed to be captured.*
The behavior of the officers and men under my command during the engagements was as good as I could wish. It would do injustice to particularize officers of the line, they all acted with so much coolness and bravery. I would mention especially Maj. Hooper and Lieut. Earle, acting adjutant, they both being with me the whole time and showing the greatest bravery.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. C. JOSLIN, Lieut.-Col., Comdg. Regt.
Lieut. F. W. Haskell, Actg. Asst. Adjt. Gen., First Brigade, Second Division.
Sandy Hook, Md., July 16, 1863.
Sir: In compliance with circular orders from brigade headquarters of this date, I submit the following report of casualties during the engagement at Gettysburg, Pa., July 2 and 3:
Buried by regimental detail:
Enlisted men................................................... 9
Guns brought in by regimental detail............................. 60
I am, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO C. JOSLIN, Lieut.-Col., Comdg. Regt.
Lieut. Haskell, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General
Report of Lieut. Col. George C. Joslin, Fifteenth Massachusetts Infantry.
HDQRS. FIFTEENTH MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEERS, October 16, 1863.
SIR: I have the honor to submit the following report of the part taken by this command in the engagement with the enemy on the afternoon of the 14th instant, near Bristoe Station:
As we approached the above-named place the enemy suddenly opened fire with artillery, and I received orders to move to the right by the flank, and then by the left flank, forming a line of battle.
Being on the right of the brigade at the time, we moved forward obliquing to the left to the railroad, where we halted, and the men ordered to lie down under cover of the embankment of the railroad. At this place the Eighty-second New York Volunteers, which was formed on our left, moved in our rear and to the right of us, giving place for a battery.
We remained but a short time in this position, when we were ordered to move by the flank along the line of the railroad and across Broad Run at double-quick. A portion of the command had crossed the run, when orders were given to face about, and move back at double-quick along the line of the railroad. While thus moving the enemy opened with musketry upon us without any effect. We soon arrived at a position where the railroad covered us from the enemy's fire. Here we halted, and, forming upon the side of the railroad, immediately opened fire upon the enemy, who were advancing in a heavy line of battle. We kept up a steady and rapid fire, and repulsed the enemy after about an hour's fighting, with a loss of 1 officer wounded, and 9 enlisted men, 2 of them mortally.
As soon as the firing ceased, quite a large number of prisoners came in and were taken by my men. I was then ordered to send four companies to the front of our line of battle as pickets. At dark we withdrew from the line of the railroad, taking up our line of march and leaving the four companies sent out as pickets to withdraw when the column had passed, and to join us on the following morning, which they did at Bull Run.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
GEO. C. JOSLIN, Lieutenant-Colonel, Commanding Regiment.
Capt. W. B. C. DURYEE, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Report of Capt. Charles H. Eager, Fifteenth Massachusetts Infantry.
NEAR BRANDY STATION, VA.,
December 3, 1863.
CAPTAIN: I have the honor to submit the following report:
The Fifteenth Massachusetts Regiment, Lieut. Col. George C. Joslin commanding, left camp November 26, 1863, with the other regiments composing the First Brigade, Second Division, Second Corps, and proceeded to Germanna Ford, on the Rapidan River. Crossed on the pontoon bridge a little before sunset, moved out a distance of about 2 miles, and bivouacked for the night. Moved at sunrise on the 28th, and, after a rapid march, halted near Robertson's Tavern, where a portion of the Second Brigade was already skirmishing with the enemy. This command was immediately ordered to deploy as skirmishers and join on the right of the Second Brigade, along a fence and woods.
After remaining very quietly in this position for some two or three hours, Colonel Smith, of the Seventy-first Pennsylvania Volunteers, in charge of the line, ordered the right of our line to swing forward into the woods to ascertain the locality of a certain road, the left advancing not more than 20 yards. In so doing the right and center of our line became engaged with the skirmishers of the enemy, who almost immediately moved up a line of battle and this regiment was forced to fall back to its original position, and finally to a position about 100 yards in the rear, on the crest of a hill, which position we held with the help of the Sixty-ninth Pennsylvania Volunteers, and drove the enemy back from the edge of the woods.
During this engagement Lieutenant Colonel Joslin was, in all probability, captured by the enemy. Captain Ellingwood severely and Adjutant Newbury mortally wounded and has since died. The enlisted men wounded and missing were 13.
At this time the command of the regiment fell upon me, and I was directed by Colonel Smith to move the regiment to the right and rear, having been relieved from the front by the One hundred and sixth Pennsylvania Volunteers.
About sunset I was directed by an aide of General Webb to again deploy the regiment and join on the right of the Eighty-second New York Volunteers, the line to swing forward to open the road by which General French, of the Third Corps, was expected to arrive, our line of skirmishers to be supported by the Nineteenth Maine Volunteers in line of battle. After advancing some 75 yards, a few shots were fired by the enemy, with no effect upon us.
We continued to advance, with one company as flankers, until the right of the line was nearly at a right angle with the First Minnesota Volunteers, who were on the extreme left of the brigade. At this time it had become so dark that it was impossible to tell friend from foe, and, fearing a collision with our friends, decided to swing back the right in a position covering the said road, where we remained until half past 9 p.m., when we were relieved by the Nineteenth Maine Volunteers. The command bivouacked in the second line of battle for the night.
At an early hour on the 29th instant, a line of battle, consisting of the Second Division, was formed near Robertson's Tavern (the Fifteenth Massachusetts being on the right of the First Brigade), and advanced through the woods in a westerly direction a distance of 1 1/4 miles, and remained quietly in line until the morning of the 30th, when the corps moved, via Robertson's Tavern, near New Verdierville.
At this point, by the direction of Brigadier-General Webb, this command was deployed as skirmishers and moved in an oblique direction from the plank road, a distance of 600 paces, to guard against a surprise by the enemy. Were relieved by the One hundred and fifty-second New York Volunteers about 8 p.m., and bivouacked near the road.
December 1, were turned out at 2 a.m., and marched soon after to a position in front of the fortifications of the enemy, where we remained all day expecting orders to charge the works. Were withdraw from the front with the rest of the brigade at about 8 o'clock and bivouacked in rear of that position.
About 12 o'clock on December 2, the First Brigade was ordered into a position the fifteenth in the second line on the right of the First Minnesota Volunteers. At 7 p.m. was directed by Colonel Baxter to relieve the One hundred and fifty-second New York Volunteers at the front, and at 8.30 o'clock to report with my command to his headquarters, to move to the rear.
We marched to Ely's Ford, on the Rapidan, and crossed on the pontoon bridge at 9 a.m. on the 3d instant; halted at 11 a. m. and made coffee, and moved again at 1 p.m.; arrived at our old camp near Brandy Station about 8 p.m.
The conduct of both officers and men during the entire movement was unexceptionable, and all did so well it is difficult to particularize, but I cannot refrain from mentioning Asst. Surg. T. O. Cornish for his efforts in assisting the wounded from the field during the hottest of the engagements, regardless of his own personal danger, and of Adjt. Dwight Newbury, who showed determined bravery, and who was mortally wounded while conveying an order from the right to the left of the line.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
CHARLES H. EAGER, Captain, Comdg. Fifteenth Massachusetts Volunteers.
Capt. W. B. C. DURYEE, Assistant Adjutant-General.
Report of Col. Samuel J. Fletcher, Fifteenth Massachusetts Infantry.
HDQRS. FIFTEENTH MASSACHUSETTS REGT.,
February 7, 1864.
SIR: I herewith send you a report of the movements of this regiment for the last two days:
We left camp February 6, at 7 a. m., with field and staff of captain, adjutant, surgeon, and assistant surgeon, and 128 enlisted men with rifles, and 6 musicians, and joined the brigade at brigade headquarters. Our place in the brigade was second regiment. We reached the Rapidan about 11, and formed line of battle and stacked arms, with the Eighty-second New York on our right and the Nineteenth Maine on our left.
About noon we marched toward the enemy in line by echelon, and halted quite near the river, and we, with the brigade, marched by the flank and crossed the river and formed line of battle immediately. I sent out one company as skirmishers to cover the front of the regiment.
About 10 p. m., whole command, in connection with the remainder of the brigade, was sent to the front to relieve the line of skirmishers formed by the Third Division. The center of my command was in the rear and close to the house and outbuildings, a short distance to the right of the house occupied as Gen. Hays' headquarters. These outbuildings were occupied by the enemy, as we found be received occasional shots from them. About 12 p. m., the larger part of the skirmishers were withdrawn and recrossed the river.
My whole command, except one company, was now on this side of the river, and we occupied the position held at sundown. About 2 a. m. the company left on the other side of the river was withdrawn and rejoined the regiment. We remained on the ground the remainder of the night and during the day of February 7. At dark we started on the march to camp, which we reached about 9 p. m. My whole command returned with me, not a man being wounded.
My whole command, with the exception of two men who did not cross the river with us, did all that could be expected of officers or men. The men are all in good condition and spirits.
I remain, with respect, your obedient servant,
SAMUEL J. FLETCHER, Capt., Cmdg. Regt.
Col. BAXTER, Cmdg. First Brigade.
Inventory Number: BUT 158