United States Regiments & Batteries > Massachusetts

“Harvard Regiment”

The 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment lost 17 officers and 243 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded and 1 officer and 148 enlisted men to disease in the Civil War. It is honored by a monument at Gettysburg. The 20th had the highest number of casualties of all Massachusetts regiments and it ranked fifth in casualties of all Union regiments.

August 29 – September 4 Organized at Readville under Colonel William R. Lee, mexican War veteran and distant relative of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
September 4 Left State for Washington, D.C.; attached to Lander’s Brigade, Division of the Potomac
September 12-15 Moved to Poolesville, Md. and guard duty along Upper Potomac
October Assigned to Lander’s Brigade, Stone’s (Sedgwick’s) Division, Army of the Potomac
October 21-24 Operations on the Potomac
October 21
Action at Ball’s Bluff

The regiment lost 2 officers and 13 men killed, 6 officers and 38 men wounded, and 6 officers and 129 men missing, including Colonel Lee, who was captured.

October 22 Near Edwards’ Ferry
December 4 Moved to Muddy Branch and duty there
March Assigned to 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac
March 12-15 Moved to Harper’s Ferry, then to Charlestown and Berryville
March 24 Ordered to Washington, D.C.
March 27 To the Peninsula
April 5-May 4 Siege of Yorktown. Colonel Lee was exchanged and rejoined the regiment.
May 7-8 West Point
May 31-June 1 Battle of Fair Oaks, Seven Pines
June 25-July 1 Seven days before Richmond
June 25 Oak Grove, near Fair Oaks
July 29 Peach Orchard and Savage Station
June 30
White Oak Swamp and Glendale

Colonel Lee was badly injured when his horse fell on him.

July 1 and
August 5
Malvern Hill
August 6 – 15 At Harrison’s Landing
August 15-28 Movement to Alexandria
August 28-31 March to Fairfax C. H.
August 31-
September 1
Covered retreat of Pope’s army from Bull Run
September-October Maryland Campaign
September 14 South Mountain, Md. (Reserve)
September 16-17
Battle of Antietam

From the brigade marker at Antietam:

Dana’s Brigade, following Gorman’s in column of attack, passed through the East Woods, crossed the Cornfield and the Hagerstown Pike, about 50 yards in rear of Gorman, and entered the West Woods, where its advance was checked about 40 yards east of this point.

Its left flank having been attacked and turned, by McLaws’ and Walker’s Divisions, it was compelled to retire.

A portion of the Brigade, with the 1st Minnesota Infantry, occupied a line near the Nicodemus house which it held for a time until, its flank having been again turned, it retired to the woods and fields east of the Hagerstown Pike.

September 22 Moved to Harper’s Ferry and duty there
October 16-17 Reconnaissance to Charlestown
October 30-
November 17
Advance up Loudon Valley and movement to Falmouth, Va.
December 11-15
Battle of Fredericksburg

Forlorn hope to cross Rappahannock December 11

December 15 Colonel Lee is offered command of a brigade but offered his resignation, which was accepted.
December – April Duty at Falmouth


April 27-May 6 Chancellorsville Campaign
May 3 Maryes Heights, Fredericksburg
May 3-4
Salem Heights
June 11-July 24 Gettysburg Campaign
July 2-4
Battle of Gettysburg

The 20th was commanded by Colonel Paul Joseph Revere, grandson of Paul Revere of Revolutionary War fame. He was mortally wounded on July 2nd, dying on the 4th. Lieutenant Colonel George N. Macy then took over until he was wounded on July 3, losing his left hand. Captain Henry L. Abbott then took over the regiment.

The 20th brought 301 men to the field, losing 30 killed, 94 wounded and 3 missing.

From the monument:

This tablet is placed by their comrades in honor of Colonel Paul Joseph Revere, First Lieutenant Henry Ropes, Second Lieutenant Sumner Paine, and forty-one enlisted men who were killed or mortally wounded.

From a bronze marker near the Copse of Trees:

When Pickett’s Division pierced the Union line this regiment retired by its right flank, faced left, and rushed up to this copse of trees and attacked Pickett’s troops then coming over the wall.

September 13-17 Advance from the Rappahannock to the Rapidan
October 9-22
Bristoe Campaign
October 14 Bristoe Station
November 7-8 Advance to line of the Rappahannock
November 26-
December 2
Mine Run Campaign
February 6-7 Demonstration on the Rapidan
March Assigned to 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps
February – May At Stevensburg
May-June Campaign from the Rapidan to the James
May 5-7
Battle of the Wilderness
May 8 Laurel Hill
May 8-21
Battle of Spotsylvania Court House
May 10 Po River
May 12 Assault on the Salient
May 23-26
North Anna River
May 26-28 Line of the Pamunkey
May 28-31 Totopotomoy
June 1-12
Battle of Cold Harbor
June 16-18
First Assault on Petersburg
June 16
Siege of Petersburg
June 22-23 Jerusalem Plank Road
July 27-29 Demonstration north of the James
July 27-28 Deep Bottom
August 14-18 Strawberry Plains, Deep Bottom
August 25 Ream’s Station
October 27-28 Boydton Plank Road, Hatcher’s Run
February 5-7 Dabney’s Mills, Hatcher’s Run
March 25 Watkins’ House
March 28-
April 9
Appomattox Campaign
March 31 Crow’s House
April 2 Fall of Petersburg
April 6 Sailor’s Creek
April 7 High Bridge and Farmville
April 9
Appomattox Court House

Surrender of Lee and his army.

April 10 – May 2 At Burkesville
May 2-15 March to Washington, D.C.
May 23 Grand Review
July 15 Duty at Washington
July 16 Mustered out
July 28 Discharged