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Twenty Ninth {29th} Massachusetts Infantry

Posted 3/1/2023

Finial Style: Halberd

Location House: Bureau of the State House/Art Commission, Massachusetts State House, Boston, Massachusetts.

Measurements: 13.5" X Approximately 4.5"

Recovery Location: Received by the Sergeant at Arms, December 22, 1865

Finial Attribution: Twenty Ninth {29th} Massachusetts Infantry {State Flag} Regiment, {1987.258}

Photograph Attribution: Art Commission, State House, Boston, Massachusetts

Additional Information:

The word "hero" is a word most veterans of military service which is, for the most part, not used very much, unless speaking of a comrade who performed some battlefield action that at the time seemed unbelievable. In the 1828 Websters Dictionary, the word "hero" is given one meaning as: "A man of distinguished valor; intrepidity or enterprise in danger." In my opinion, the 29th Massachusetts Infantry regiment had it's quiver full of "heroes" that distinguished themselves as "heroes" during the War Between the States.

The 29th Massachusetts Infantry mustered into federal service on December 13, 1861, while being mustered out of service on August 11, 1865.Initially, the regiment was made part of the "Massachusetts Brigade" sharing the title with six other Massachusetts regiments. In mid 1862, the 29th was attached with three new Irish regiments from New York which was titled as the "Irish Brigade." This was not a "marriage made in heaven." Due to the long history of animosity between the Irish, and the English, from which most of the 29th was cut, in November 1862, the marriage broke up. The problem seemed to arise from the issuance of the famous green flag of the "Irish Brigade." Apparently, the 29th's commander took issue with his men of the 29th fighting under the green clad harp. By November 30, 1862, the 29th was out of the Irish Brigade and re-assigned to another brigade. The 29th was replaced in the Irish Brigade by another Irish regiment which was the 28th Massachusetts.

I have chosen four men who I think are real heroes in the 28th Massachusetts. The first received the Congressional Medal of Honor. Samuel C. Wright was a private in Company E, on September 17, 1862, at Antietam Creek, Maryland. By the time Private Wight had made it to Maryland, he had already been wounded once at the Battle of White Oak Swamp by a shell fragment received on his head. Now in Maryland, Private Wright would receive the second of a total of five wounds during the war.   Wright wrote of the circumstances around the wounding in Maryland and his receiving the Medal of Honor, "Some 200 yards in advance or our position, which we were holding at a terrible cost, was a fence built high and strong. The troops in advance had tried to scale the fence and reform under that hell of fire. They were actually torn in shreds and wedged into the fence. The cry came to us for volunteers to pull down the fence. Instantly there sprang from the long line, fast being shortened as the ranks closed up over the dead, seventy-six volunteers. We ran straight for the fence amid a hail of iron and lead, the dead falling all about us, but to reach the fence was our only thought. A part of the force reached it, and, as one would grasp a rail it would be sent flying out of his hands by rifle shots. The fence leveled, we made the attempt to return, and it was as hot for us on the retreat, as it had been on the advance. Few escaped death and wounds. I had almost regained my regiment, when I was hit. The line then successfully pressed on, and the "Sunken Road," or "Bloody Lane," as it is now known, was within our lines." Wright had been shot in the knee and refused to be removed from the field until the battle was over, thus, the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The next three men I have chosen were all involved in the same incident at Petersburg. On

June 17, 1864, Major Charles Chipman of the 29th as well as Corporal Nathaniel Burgess, and Private Patrick Muldoon would find themselves doing something of distinguished valor, and enterprise in danger. During the first charge at Petersburg, the federals did very well taking several prisoners, artillery, small arms and battle flags from the Confederate forces. When the smoke began to clear, it became apparent the 29th Massachusetts had lost their color bearer, and the flag he was charged with carrying. During the battle, Sergeant Major William F. Willis picked up the flag and was shot down as well. Immediately, after returning to relative safety and learning of the loss of their flag Major Charles Chipman made it known the colors had been left on the field and asked for volunteers to recover the flag. Chipman, Burgess, and Muldoon went out into the field to recover the flag, only to find the staff was being so tightly held in the dead hands of Sergeant Major Willis that it took minutes to pry the staff away. Once recovered, the three made it back within their lines without a wound, the staff being broken, and the flag was shot to pieces.

On August 7, 1864, at Petersburg, Major Chipman was wounded and subsequently died from his wound the next day. Corporal Burgess was killed at Petersburg March 27, 1865, 12 days before the surrender at Appomattox. Private Muldoon made it through the war to return to Boston. Muldoon became a laborer and a printer but died at the young age of 44. To me, these three men are just some of the many heroes of that war, and this regiment.

During the war, the 29th Massachusetts received a total of four {4} flags, three {3} national flags and one {1} state color. The finial presented here is on the state color flagstaff of the regiment in the collections of the State of Massachusetts. In the regimental history, the regiment is given their state color on May 16, 1862. The flag is described as a blue canton with gold fringe and gold letters with the emblems of Massachusetts.

29 Ms..png

This style finial is very unique and seems to be associated only with Massachusetts regiments. It is unknown at this point who would have furnished such a finial style.  The 11th, 16th and 20th Massachusetts regiment hold this same type of finial.


1. The History of the Twenty-Ninth regiment of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, In the late war of rebellion, 1877, Osborne, William H. 

2., Chipman, Burgess, Muldoon

3. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 29th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment4. Medal of Honor Convention, Samuel C. Wright

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