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Biographical Sketches of the 22nd MVI


Ranks shown indicate the highest rank achieved by the individual during their service in the 22nd Massachusetts. Many individuals went on to achieve higher ranks with other units.




Colonel Mason W. Burt


Mason Burt was born in Taunton, MA on May 19, 1839. He was First Sergeant of Company G, 4th Massachusetts Infantry, in the three months campaign, and was in action at Big Bethel. He joined the 22nd Massachusetts as Captain of Company C, which was color company. He was promoted to Major of the 22nd Massachusetts on October 2, 1862 and brevet Colonel, Oct. 4, 1864. He commanded the regiment during the final months of its service. After the war, he continued to serve in the State Militia and commanded the 3rd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry from 1866 to 1868.



Captain John Frederic Dunning

The current 22nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry represents Company D of that regiment. It was therefore of great interest to the organization when a photograph of the the first Captain of Company D, John Dunning, recently surfaced. In 2008, the 22nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Inc. proudly acquired the photograph of "our" first Captain.



Research on Captain Dunning's early background is ongoing. Thus far, it appears he was born on August 1, 1832 in Brunswick, Maine and lived in Brownville, Maine before the Civil War. He was the son of Colonel John A. Dunning who had served in the War of 1812. He married in 1856 and his wife Marie bore him at least one son, John, in 1857. By 1860, Dunning was living in Boston and working as a carpenter and master house builder. Before the war even began, he was serving with the peace-time militia as a lieutenant. In April 1861, with the commencement of hostilities, he was mustered in as a lieutenant in Company K of the 6th Massachusetts, a "90 days regiment". He served out his enlistment and returned to Boston.

According the the 22nd Massachusetts regimental history, Dunning was the true spirit behind the creation of Company D. Upon his return to Boston in August of 1861, he immediately began recruitment efforts to round up a new company of volunteers. Holding former Massachusetts Governor and U.S. Senator Edward Everett in high regard, Dunning wrote to Mr. Everett requesting permission to call his company the "Everett Guards." Everett approved and thus Company D would be so known.

Dunning opened a recruiting office in the Boston Museum, a exhibition hall once located on Tremont Street across from King's Chapel. In a little over a week, he had nearly half a company signed up. It took a bit longer to recruit the remaining half, but by October 1861, Dunning had a full company. The men of the "Everett Guards" were from many, many towns throughout the Boston area and beyond. About a quarter of them were from Boston itself, and nearly a quarter were from Reading. "The Everett Guards," were assigned to the 22nd Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, then forming, and Dunning was commissioned Captain of Company D.

Captain Dunning led the company through its early service in the war, including the Peninsular Campaign. A favorite toast of his was, "Here's for a yellow sash or six feet of Virginia soil!" meaning promotion to a General or death. During the Battle of Gaines Mill on June 27, 1862, Dunning was killed in action. Gaines Mill would always be remembered as the darkest day for the 22nd Massachusetts. The unit suffered the second highest casualties of any regiment in the Army of the Potomac that day, according to the regimental history. In addition to Captain Dunning, the unit had lost its much esteemed Colonel Gove. Many men of the unit were taken prisoner and sent to Libby Prison in Richmond. One soldier of the 22nd was taken prisoner at the point of Captain Dunning's pistol by a Confederate who had robbed the revolver from Dunning's body.

Dunning is buried in Brownsville, Maine. Tragically, his 5 year-old son died just months later, doubtless a difficult trial for Marie Dunning.

The regimental historian wrote of Dunning, that "he was a good disciplinarian and a courageous officer, and his early death on the field of Gaines Mills cut short a career that doubtless would have been a brilliant one."

The original photograph of Captain Dunning is now part of a growing collection of memorabilia pertaining to the the 22nd Massachusetts Infantry and is stored in a climate controlled archival library.

(Research by Jack Williams, Don Ellis and Patrick Browne).



Colonel Jesse Gove


Jesse Gove was born on December 5, 1824 in Ware, New Hampshire. Electing to pursue a career in the Army, he was educated at the Military Academy at Norwich, Vermont. In 1847 he was appointed 2nd Lieutenant in the 9th United States Infantry, served in the Mexican War, and was promoted to 1st Lieutenant. At the close of the war, he took up the study of law and was admitted to the bar in 1851. From 1850 to 1855 he was Deputy Secretary of State for New Hampshire. In 1855, he was commissioned Captain of Company I, 10th United States Infantry, and was on frontier duty until the outbreak of the Rebellion. He was then ordered to Washington and succeeded Colonel Wilson in command of the 22nd. He was the only Regular Army officer to command the 22nd and was highly respected by the soldiers. He was killed in action at Gaines Mill, Virginia, June 27, 1862. The regiment greatly mourned the loss of Col. Gove. After the war, veterans of the 22nd Massachusetts elected to hold their annual reunions on the date of Col. Gove's death.



Colonel Charles E. Griswold


Charles Griswold was the first Lieutenant Colonel of the 22nd Massachusetts and, on the death of Colonel Gove in June of 1862, was promoted to the command of the regiment. During the greater part of his connection with the 22nd he was in poor health, and he resigned on October 16, 1862. When the 56th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment was raised, he was commissioned its



Captain Nelson Appleton Miles


Nelson Miles was born in Wachusettsville, a village of Westminster, Massachusetts on August 8, 1839. Working as a store clerk at the start of the Civil War, Miles had an avid interest in military history and tactics. He joined the 22nd Massachusetts as 1st Lieutenant of Company E and eventually was promoted to Captain of that company. In November of 1861, he was detached from the 22nd Massachusetts to serve on Gen. Casey's staff. He was discharged on March 31, 1862 to accept promotion as Lt. Col. of the 61st New York Infantry. In 1862, he became Colonel of that regiment. He was wounded four times during the war, twice during the Battle of Chancellorsville as Colonel of the 61st New York. For his gallantry at Chancellorsville, he received the Congressional Medal of Honor and was promoted to Brigadier General. He would later be promoted to Major General in 1864 at the age of 26. After the war, he received a commission in the Regular Army, serving as Colonel of the 5th U.S. Infantry and the 40th U.S. Infantry. Eventually promoted to Major General in the Regular Army, he led troops in action on the frontier against Geronimo's forces. In 1894, he was placed in command of the troops that put down the Pullman Strike Riots in Chicago. In 1895, General Miles was appointed Commanding General of the United States Army and held that post during the Spanish American War. During that war, he was promoted to Lt. General and led the invasion of Puerto Rico, becoming the island's first military governor. Miles retired from the army in 1903. At age 79, he offered to resume active service during World War I, however his offer was declined by President Woodrow Wilson. Miles died in 1925 and was buried in Arlington Cemetery.



Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Sherwin


Thomas Sherwin was born in Boston, July 11, 1839. When Adjutant Tilton was promoted to Major, Lt. Sherwin replaced him as Adjutant of the 22nd Massachusetts on Oct. 1, 1861. He was promoted Major on June 28, 1862 and Lieutenant Colonel on Oct. 17, 1862. He was wounded at Gaines Mill, June 27, 1862. While Col. Tilton was in command of the brigade in 1863, Lt. Col. Sherwin commanded the 22nd Massachusetts, most notably during the Battle of Gettysburg. He was promoted to brevet Brigadier General on March 25, 1864. He served on the staff of Gen. Griffin as inspector-general during his last three months of service. After the war he was a teacher for two years in the English High School, Boston, then Deputy Surveyor of the port of Boston, 1866-1875, and in 1885, became the President of New England Telephone and Telegraph Company.



Colonel William S. Tilton


Commander of the 22nd for the majority of its history, Tilton was born in Newburyport, Massachusetts on February 1, 1828. Before the war he was involved in business and manufacturing. In September of 1861, he was commissioned 1st Lieutenant and Adjutant of the 22nd Massachusetts and quickly rose through the ranks. During the Battle of Gaines Mill, Tilton was shot through the right shoulder and was taken prisoner. He was paroled in August of 1862 and returned to the 22nd in September to take command of the regiment in place of Col. Griswold. He led the regiment during the Battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville. After the Battle of Chancellorsville in May of 1863, Tilton was promoted to the command of the brigade in which the 22nd served. In recognition of this, he would later receive the brevet rank of Brigadier General. Tilton led the brigade during the Battle of Gettysburg, after which he was criticized for ordering his brigade to retreat during heated action in the Wheatfield. He was, however, following orders of his division commander. Tilton's brigade, including the 22nd Massachusetts, suffered heavy casualties at Gettysburg. In August of 1863, Tilton was relieved as brigade commander and returned to regimental command of the 22nd Massachusetts. In November of 1863, he resumed brigade command for a short time, however, when the Army of the Potomac was re-organized in 1864, Tilton was again returned to command of the 22nd Massachusetts. He led the regiment during the Battles of the Wilderness, Spotsylvania and Cold Harbor. Tilton resigned his commission on October 17, 1864. He is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts.



Colonel Henry Wilson


Wilson was born February 16, 1812 in Farmington, New Hampshire as Jeremiah Jones Colbath. In 1833, he changed his name and moved to Natick, Massachusetts. In Natick he ran a small shoe shop (pictured below) and was also a school teacher. His shoe shop still stands and is now listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 1840 he was elected a member of the Massachusetts Legislature and was generally known as "The Natick Cobbler." He was in the State Senate in 1844, 1845 and 1850, a candidate for Governor in 1853 and chosen to the United States Senate in 1855. After the outbreak of the Civil War, Wilson became the first colonel of the 22nd Massachusetts, serving from September 2 to October 29, 1861. After the war, he served several more terms in the U.S. Senate until 1872 when he resigned to accept the Vice-Presidency under President Grant. In 1872, he wrote a highly controversial three-volume work entitled, History of the Rise and Fall of the Slave Power in America, in which he chronicled what he referred to as a conspiracy of slave owners to control the federal government during the antebellum period. During the Reconstruction period, he was an ardent Republican in favor of Congress's agenda of transforming southern society and punishing former Confederate officers. He died in office of a stroke in the U.S. Capitol building on November 22, 1875.

In 2007, the new 22nd Massachusetts, with the support of the Dell Park Cemetery Association and the Natick Historical Society, conducted a ceremony at Henry Wilson's grave. It is hoped that future events can be organized to honor the 22nd's first Colonel and the 18th Vice-President of the United States.


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