Civil War General Wounded Colonel 10th Massachusetts Infantry Signed Letter 1864

Civil War General Wounded Colonel 10th Massachusetts Infantry Signed Letter 1864

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Civil War General Wounded Colonel 10th Massachusetts Infantry Signed Letter 1864:



(1824 – 1887)




At the outbreak of the Civil War, Briggs enlisted as Captain of the “Allen Guard” of the Massachusetts Militia. As Colonel of the 10th Massachusetts Infantry, Briggs commanded his regiment in the 1862 Peninsular Campaign. At the Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks), Briggs received bullet wounds through both thighs, and was appointed a Brigadier General.

HERE’s A VERY RARE CIVIL WAR DATE AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED by BRIGADIER GENERAL BRIGGS, 2pp., datelined at Alexandria, Virginia, Dec. 28, 1864, 9 o’clock a.m.,” written to his wife Molly, Mrs H. S. Briggs at Pittsfield, Mass. Briggs writes, in part: “…I did not wake finally till 7 oc this morning and thought I would not go up to Washington till 10 oc – the cars run every two hours during the suspension of river navigation by the ferry boats. There cannot have been ice enough to smother the boats for the past two days. I think that the thick fog has made it difficult…I got a letter from Captain Hopkins yesterday dated “Weldon Rail Road” He wishes to be particularly remembered to you all at home when I wrote. It seems that he unwittingly was the means of his regiment being sent to the front from Winchester. Gen Halleck to whom he reported, having ordered the regiment to the front at once on learning that it was at Winchester. He has had rather tough times I think from his accounts…The bill you spoke of, for dropping certain unemployed general officers, if it should pass would not affect officers receiving accounts. But the bill itself seems to have been reported against in the Senate. I don’t yet know what it is to be the account of our application for the allowance of commutation…Love to all, affectionately your husband, H. S. Briggs”

Note: The biography pictured in the listing is included with the autograph.

The document measures 8” x 10” and is is in VERY GOOD, CLEAN CONDITION!!




Henry Shaw Briggs (August 1, 1824 – September 23, 1887) was brigadier general in the Union Army during the American Civil War.[3]

During the war, Briggs served as a captain with the 8th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He was the colonel and first commander of the 10th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. After suffering serious wounds during the Battle of Fair Oaks in 1862, Briggs was promoted to brigadier general and served primarily administrative commands in Baltimore, Washington, D.C. and Alexandria, Virginia. He was, however, periodically assigned various brigade commands in the field for brief periods during the latter half of the war.[4]

Both prior to and after the war, Briggs was a lawyer and politician. He served as a state legislator, Massachusetts Auditor and a judge.[5]

Early years

Briggs was born to George Nixon Briggs, (governor of Massachusetts from 1844–1851) on August 1, 1824 in Lanesborough, Massachusetts.[4] Henry Briggs graduated from Williams College in 1844 and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar in 1848.

On August 6, 1849, Briggs married Mary Elizabeth Talcott, daughter of Nathianiel P. Talcott of Lanesborough, Massachusetts.[1]

Shortly before the war, Briggs established a law practice in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He took an interest in military affairs as well and became captain of a company of state militia in Pittsfield known as the "Allen Guards."[4] Briggs also took an active interest in politics. In 1856, he served as a member of the Massachusetts Legislature.[5]

Civil War service 8th Massachusetts

In the days following the attack on Fort Sumter, Briggs's company became Company K of the 8th Massachusetts.[4] After reaching Maryland, Company K was detached from the regiment and assigned garrison duty at Fort McHenry near Baltimore. The company eventually rejoined the rest of the regiment and labored to repair and guard the railroads in the vicinity of Baltimore.[6]

10th Massachusetts

On June 21, 1861, Briggs was detached from service with the 8th Massachusetts, promoted to colonel and placed in command of the newly formed 10th Massachusetts.[7] The regiment reached Washington, D.C. on July 28 and spent the remainder of 1861 in camp near Washington, drilling and preparing for the spring campaign. The regiment was eventually attached to the IV Corps.[8]

In March 1862, Major General George B. McClellan commenced his Peninsular Campaign aimed at capturing the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia. As the Army of the Potomac (of which the 10th Massachusetts was a part), moved by water to the Virginia Peninsula, Col. Briggs was placed in command of the 1st Brigade, 1st Division of the IV Corps on March 13, 1862.[7] He served in this capacity until May 1862 when he was replaced by Brig. Gen. Charles Devens and returned to command the 10th Massachusetts.[9] The 10th Massachusetts, led by Briggs, saw its first major action during the Battle of Fair Oaks on May 31, 1862. The regiment suffered severe casualties during this engagement and Col. Briggs was seriously wounded, shot through both legs.[10]

Brigade commands

The severity of his wounds obliged Briggs to relinquish command of the 10th Massachusetts. He returned to Massachusetts for the remainder of the summer of 1862 to recover.[11] For his "gallant conduct on the field" during the Battle of Fair Oaks, Briggs was promoted to brigadier general on July 17, 1862.[5] In September 1862, Briggs was re-assigned to command Camp Chase on Arlington Heights just outside of Washington.[12] This was a training camp for new regiments arriving in Washington from across the country. During the Maryland Campaign in September 1862, Briggs was briefly assigned to command the 2nd Brigade, 3rd Division of the V Corps taking several fresh regiments to reinforce McClellan's Army of the Potomac. Briggs, however, had not fully recovered from his wounds and was unable to take the field.[4]

In February 1863, Briggs was assigned to the Army's Middle Department, commanding a brigade in the VIII Corps serving guard duty in Maryland. Serving in this capacity until July 1863, Briggs's headquarters was in Baltimore.[4]

For two weeks in the latter part of July 1863, during the Confederate retreat from Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Briggs was placed in command of a brigade of the 1st Division, I Corps. His brigade did not see any significant action during this time. August 1863 found Briggs in command of another training camp in Alexandria, Virginia known as the "Rendezvous for Draftees," a post he maintained until July 1864.[4]

From that date until his resignation on December 4, 1865, Briggs served on court-martial boards in Washington.[5]

Post-war career

Briggs returned to a political and law career after the war. From 1865 to 1868, he served as Massachusetts Auditor. With the establishment of the District Court of Central Berkshire in 1869, Briggs was appointed a standing justice of that court in recognition of his law career and his duty on court-martial boards during the war. Briggs resigned from the bench in 1873.[5]

Briggs died of heart disease on September 23, 1887.[11]


1. Smith, 612.

2. Cooke, 287.

3. "Henry Shaw Briggs". Find a Grave.

4. Bowen, 890–891

5. Roe, 301–303.

6. Bowen, 183.

7. Eicher, 144.

8. Bowen, 197.

9. Bowen, 198.

10. Bowen, 199.

11. Welsh, 36–37

12. Bowen, 590.

  • Bowen, James L. (1889). Massachusetts in the War, 1861–1865. Springfield, Massachusetts: Clark W. Bryan & Co. OCLC1986476.
  • Cooke, Rollin Hillyer (1906). Historic Homes and Institutions and Genealogical and Personal Memoirs of Berkshire County, Massachusetts. New York: The Lewis Publishing Co. OCLC15556993.
  • Eicher, David J.; Eicher, John H. (2001). Civil War High Commands. Stanford: Stanford University Press. ISBN0-8047-3641-3.
  • Roe, Alfred S. (1909). The Tenth Regiment, Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, 1861-1864, a Western Massachusetts Regiment. Springfield, Massachusetts: Tenth Regiment Association. OCLC3521382.
  • Smith, Joseph Edward Adams (1876). The History of Pittsfield, (Berkshire County), Massachusetts From the Year 1800 to The Year 1876. Vol. 2. Springfield, Massachusetts: Clark W. Bryan & Co. OCLC3578710.
  • Welsh, Jack D. (1996). Medical Histories of Union Generals. Kent, Ohio: The Kent State University Press. ISBN0-585-23836-7.


The 10th Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf. was composed of companies from the Connecticut Valley and the western part of the State. Five of these companies were in existence before the Civil War broke out, and five were recruited in May and June, 1861. The regiment rendezvoused at Hampden Park, Springfield, Mass., and Henry S. Briggs, a Pittsfield officer who had commanded a company in the 8th Regt. Mass. Vol. Mil., was made its colonel. The regiment was mustered into the service June 21, 1861. On July 10 it was reviewed by Gov. Andrew, and on the 15th received its colors presented by the ladies of Springfield. July 16 it entrained for Medford, Mass., where it remained at Camp Adams until the 25th, when it proceeded to Boston and took boats for Washington. Arriving at the capital on the 28th, it first encamped at Kalorama Heights, Georgetown, where it remained until August 6, when it was brigaded with the 7th Mass., 2d R. I., and 36th N. Y. Inf., and two days later removed to Brightwood. Col. Darius N. Couch, formerly commander of the 7th Mass., now commanded the brigade. At Brightwood the regiment spent most of the winter of 1861-62. Here it assisted in building Fort Massachusetts, later known as Fort Stevens. On March 27, 1862, the regiment left Washington by boat for Hampton Roads. On the 29th it disembarked at Hampton, Va., and soon joined in the advance toward Yorktown. During the succeeding weeks it participated in the Peninsular campaign, losing heavily at Fair Oaks and Malvern Hill. Here it formed a part of Devens' Brigade, Couch's Division, Keyes' (4th) Corps. Recalled from Harrison's Landing the last of August, on Sept. 1, it arrived at Alexandria and united with Gen. Pope's army at Chain Bridge on the following day. About the middle of the month it joined in the advance toward South Mountain and Antietam, but did not reach these fields until the fighting was over. Later in the fall it became a part of the 2d Brigade, 3d Division, 6th Corps, and remained with this corps until its termination of service. It was present without loss at Fredericksburg, Dec. 13, 1862, then went into winter quarters between Falmouth and White Oak Church. Early in May, 1863, it took part in the operations of the 6th Corps near Fredericksburg in cooperation with Hooker's flank movement to Chancellorsville. On May 3, it assisted in the capture of Marye's Heights, and had a part in the battle at Salem Heights on the same afternoon. Its loss in these engagements was very heavy. Its colonel, Henry L. Eustis, now became commander of the brigade. The 10th participated with the rest of the 6th Corps in the Gettysburg campaign, suffering only slight loss. After being present at the battle of Rappahannock Station, Nov. 7, and participating in the Mine Run campaign during the latter part of the same month, the regiment retired to Brandy Station and went into winter quarters. It now belonged to Eustis' (4th) Brigade, Getty's (2d) Division, Sedgwick's (6th) Corps. Colonel Parsons now commanded the regiment. On the first day of the battle of the Wilderness, May 5, 1864, Getty's Division, detached from its corps, held the crossing of the Plank and Brock roads and performed most gallant service, the 10th suffering severe loss. On the 8th, 10th, 12th, and 18th of May it was engaged at Spottsylvania, suffering very severely on the 12th, when it helped to support Hancock's assault on the bloody Angle. Between May 5 and May 18, the regiment lost 220 officers and men, 45 of these being killed or mortally wounded. After participating with slight loss in the operations around Cold Harbor, the regiment crossed the James River, June 16, and advanced toward Petersburg, being engaged for the last time June 18 with slight loss. On the 19th it was withdrawn from the front, and its recruits and re-enlisted men were transferred to the 37th Regt. On June 21 it began its voyage homeward. Washington was reached June 22, and Springfield, Mass., on the 25th. On July 1 and 6, 1864, the regiment was mustered out of the United States service. Source: Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors & Marines in the Civil War I am a proud member of the Universal Autograph Collectors Club (UACC), The Ephemera Society of America, the Manuscript Society and the American Political Items Collectors (APIC) (member name: John Lissandrello). I subscribe to each organizations' code of ethics and authenticity is guaranteed. ~Providing quality service and historical memorabilia online for over ten years.~


Civil War General Wounded Colonel 10th Massachusetts Infantry Signed Letter 1864:

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