A 20-year-old student at Harvard when he enlisted as a Private in the 44th Massachusetts Infantry on September 12, 1862.
He was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 54th Massachusetts Infantry in April 1864 and promoted to 1st Lieutenant in December 1864.
The 54th Massachusetts Infantry had arrived in South Carolina on April 1, 1865 from Savannah Georgia. The 700 men would become one of 6 infantry regiments of General Edward E. Potter's 2700 men Union force.
The day of the Battle of Boykin's Mill the troops had marched about 10 miles south from Camden SC and had seen little Confederate resistance until they reached Boykin's Mill with about 800 Confederate troops there. The area was just a church, a grist mill and a few homes but had good defensive areas with a large millpond, streams and a swamp. The Confederates had flooded the area, pulled up boards on the wagon road bridge, and a railroad bridge that crossed the swamp nearby was covered by riflemen in trenches.
The Union troops had problems with high water in the streams and tried various things to approach the rebel forces. At least 2 men of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry were killed and 4 wounded in the first skirmishes. Lt. Stevens was ordered to take some men and move towards a creek to attract the Confederate's attention. While deploying his troops Lt. Stevens was shot in the head and killed by Burwell Henry Boykin of the South Carolina Home Guards who would turn 15 years old the next day.
He was the last Union officer killed in action during the Civil War. He was originally buried near the battlefield but was moved about 20 years after the war.
Edward L. Stevens:
Residence Brighton MA; a 20 year-old Student.
Enlisted on 8/29/1862 as a Private.
On 9/12/1862 he mustered into "E" Co. MA 44th Infantry
He was Mustered Out on 6/18/1863 at Readville, MA
On 4/3/1864 he was commissioned into "H" Co. MA 54th Infantry
He was Killed on 4/18/1865 at Boykin's Mills, SC
* 2nd Lieut 4/3/1864 (As of Co. H 54th MA Infantry)
* 1st Lieut 3/19/1865
FORTY-FOURTH REGIMENT MASSACHUSETTS VOLUNTEER MILITIA (INFANTRY) NINE MONTHS
The 44th Regt. Mass. Vol. Militia, the second New England Guards Regiment, was one of the new militia units raised to fill the quota of Massachusetts under the call of Aug. 4, 1862, for nine months troops. Its nucleus was the 4th Battalion Infantry, M. V. M., which by Special Order No. 597, dated Aug.7, 1862, was authorized to recruit to the full size of a regiment.
The recruiting proceeded rapidly, and on Aug. 29 the command went into camp at Readville, Mass. The field and staff and practically all the regiment were mustered into the service Sept. 12. Maj. Francis L. Lee of Newton, who had commanded the 4th Battalion, was commissioned colonel, while Capt. Edward C. Cabot of Co. "A", 4th Battalion was commissioned lieutenant colonel. This company was the New England Guards company in the Massachusetts Volunteer Militia.
The regiment was reviewed by Governor Andrews, Oct. 15, 1862, and on the 22d took passage by the steamer MERRIMAC for Beaufort, N. C. Landing at Morehead City, Oct. 26,the regiment immediately entrained for Newbern where it became a part of Stevenson's Brigade, later the 2d Brigade of Wessell's (4th) Division, Foster's (18th) Corps.
The last of October the 44th proceeded on transports to Little Washington, arriving Nov.1. The next day it marched about 20 miles into the interior to Rawle's Mill, where it encountered the enemy and lost two men killed and six wounded. Passing on through Williamston, N. C., on Nov. 5, the expedition arrived within a few miles of Tarboro. Here, finding that the enemy had been heavily reinforced, the Federal force began its retreat toward Plymouth, where steamer was taken for Newbern, this place being reached Nov. 14, after two weeks absence.
After four weeks spent in the regular routine of camp life, on Dec. 11 the regiment started out with the Goldsboro expedition. It reached Kinston Dec. 14, just after the engagement was over. At Whitehall, Dec. 16, it was engaged losing 8 killed and 10 wounded. On the day following at Goldsboro the regiment was in the reserve and suffered no loss.
Returning with the expedition it arrived at Newbern Dec. 20. Here its service was without incident until Feb.1, 1863, when it went on a foraging expedition to and beyond Plymouth, being absent about ten days. About this time Companies "B" and "F" were sent up the Goldsboro Railroad to Batcheller's Creek where they were on duty until May 1.
About the middle of March the eight remaining companies were sent to reinforce the garrison of Little Washington, remaining there through the siege which occupied the first two weeks in April, 1863. After the siege was raised three companies, "C", "D", and "I", under Major Dabney proceeded to Hill's Point, destroying the Confederate fortifications at this place. About the 23d of April the regiment returned to Newbern where it served as provost guard until its term of service had expired.
Entraining June 6 for Morehead City, a suburb of Beaufort, the regiment embarked on the steamers GUIDE and GEORGE PEABODY for Boston where it arrived June 10. Here the members of the regiment were furloughed until the 16th of June. Reassembling on this date at its old camp at Readville, on the 18th the regiment was mustered out of the United States service.
Inventory Number: CDV 389 / On-hold