Monday, June 21, 2010

Hartwell Collection Materials on Flickr

A recent set on the State Library's Flickr web site highlights photographs and materials from the 54th and 55th Massachusetts Black Volunteer Regiments from the Civil War. The collections are from materials donated to the State Library by Alfred Stedman Hartwell, who served in both regiments.

Alfred Stedman Hartwell was born in Dedham, Massachusetts on June 11, 1836. Civil War records describe him as having been a law student; he graduated from Harvard University in 1858.

From May 8, 1861 to August 17, 1861, he served as a corporal in the 3rd Missouri Infantry. He was commissioned a 1st lieutenant on August 22, 1862 and was mustered into Company F, 44th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry on September 12, 1862; he resigned from that regiment and was discharged for promotion on March 31, 1863. Hartwell was next commissioned a captain in the 54th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry and was discharged on May 14, 1863 for promotion in the 55th Massachusetts Infantry. On November 3, 1863 he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in that regiment. He was wounded at Honey Hill, South Carolina on November 30, 1864, brevetted as a brigadier-general on December 30, 1864 and mustered out on April 30, 1866.

Because of his experience with black regiments, he spearheaded an investigation into certain abuses in the recruiting of black soldiers in the south. From 1865 to 1866, Hartwell led the investigation into these alleged abuses. Brevet Brigadier-General M.S. Littlefield was the subject of many accusations that indicated that he enrolled disabled blacks, known deserters, and others into the 21st Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops and had failed to pay bounties due to the men. As a result of Hartwell's efforts, Littlefield was court-martialed.

Hartwell later served as the Representative from Natick in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1867 and as Attorney General and Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Hawaii. He died in Honolulu on August 30, 1912.

The collection resides in the Special Collections Department of the State Library of Massachusetts and is available for the public to view.

Pamela W. Schofield
Reference Department