Summary

Conflict Period:
Civil War (Union) 1
Branch:
Army 1
Rank:
Captain 2
Birth:
08 Mar 1841 2
1841 1
Boston MA 2
United States 1
Death:
06 Mar 1935 2
Washington, D.C. 2
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Holmes, [Illegible]
Holmes, [Illegible]
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from left, William R. Day, Joseph McKenna, Chief Justice Edward D. White, Holmes and Willis Van Devanter, and, standing, from left, Louis D. Brandeis, Mahlon Pitney, James C. McReynolds and John H. Clarke..jpg
from left, William R. Day, Joseph McKenna, Chief Justice Edward D. White, Holmes and Willis Van Devanter, and, standing, from left, Louis D. Brandeis, Mahlon Pitney, James C. McReynolds and John H. Clarke..jpg

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Personal Details

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Person:
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. 2
[Illegible] Holmes 1
Age: 21 1
Birth:
08 Mar 1841 2
1841 1
Boston MA 2
United States 1
State: Indiana 1
Death:
06 Mar 1935 2
Washington, D.C. 2
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Civil War (Union) 1

Branch:
Army 1
Rank:
Captain 2
Enlistment Date:
21 Nov 1862 1

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Sources

  1. Army Register of Enlistments, 1798-1914 [See image]
  2. Contributed by bruceyrock632
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Stories

20th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry

OVERVIEW:

Organized at Readville August 29 to September 4, 1861. Left State for Washington, D. C., September 4. Attached to Ladder's Brigade, Division of the Potomac, to October, 1861. Lander's Brigade, Stone's (Sedgwick's) Division, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1862. 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, to March, 1864. 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, to July, 1865.

 

SERVICE:Moved to Poolesville, Md., September 12-15, 1861. Guard duty along Upper Potomac till December. Operations on the Potomac October 21-24. Action at Ball's Bluff October 21. Near Edwards' Ferry October 22. Moved to Muddy Branch December 4, and duty there till March 12, 1862. Moved to Harper's Ferry, thence to Charlestown and Berryville, March 12-15. Ordered to Washington, D. C., March 24, and to the Peninsula March 27. Siege of Yorktown April 5-May 4. West Point May 7-8. Battle of Fair Oaks, Seven Pines, May 31-June 1. Seven days before Richmond June 25-July 1. Oak Grove, near Fair Oaks, June 25. Sappony Church and Savage Station July 29. White Oak Swamp and Glendale June 30. Malvern Hill July 1 and August 5. At Ball's Bluff till August 15. Movement to Alexandria August 15-28, thence march to Fairfax C. H. August 28-31. Cover retreat of Pope's army from Bull Run August 31-September 1. Maryland Campaign September-October. South Mountain, Md., September 14 (Reserve). Battle of Antietam September 16-17. Moved to Harper's Ferry September 22, and duty there till October 30. Reconnoissance to Charlestown October 16-17. Advance up Loudon Valley and movement to Falmouth, Va., October 30-November 17. Battles of Fredericksburg December 11-15. (Forlorn hope to cross Rappahannock December 11.) Duty at Falmouth till April. Chancellorsville Campaign April 27-May 6. Maryes Heights, Fredericksburg, May 3. Salem Heights May 3-4. Gettysburg (Pa.) Campaign June 11-July 24. Battle of Gettysburg July 2-4. Advance from the Rappahannock to the Rapidan September 13-17. Bristoe Campaign October 9-22. Bristoe Station October 14. Advance to line of the Rappahannock November 7-8. Mine Run Campaign November 26-December 2. Demonstration on the Rapidan February 6-7, 1864. At Stevensburg till May. Campaign from the Rapidan to the James May-June. Battles of the Wilderness May 5-7. Laurel Hill May 8. Spottsylvania May 8-12. Po River May 10. Spottsylvania C. H. May 12-21. Assault on the Salient May 12. North Anna River May 23-26. Line of the Pamunkey May 26-28. Totopotomoy May 28-31. Cold Harbor June 1-12. Before Petersburg June 16-18. Siege of Petersburg June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. Jerusalem Plank Road June 22-23, 1864. Demonstration north of the James July 27-29. Deep Bottom July 27-28. Strawberry Plains, Deep Bottom, August 14-18. Ream's Station August 25.Boydton Plank RoadHatcher's Run, October 27-28. Dabney's MillsHatcher's Run, February 5-7, 1865. Watkins' House March 25. Appomattox Campaign March 28-April 9. Crow's House March 31. Fall of Petersburg April 2. Sailor's Creek April 6. High Bridge and Cumberland Church April 7. Appomattox C. H. April 9. Surrender of Lee and his army. At Burkesville till May 2. March to Washington, D. C., May 2-15. Grand Review May 23. Duty at Washington till July 15. Mustered out July 16 and discharged July 28, 1865.

 

Regiment lost during service 17 Officers and 243 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 1 Officer and 148 Enlisted men by disease. Total 409.

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. made law his life's work rather than following his father as a physician, educator and author. A lieutenant with the 20th Massachusetts Volunteers in the Civil War, he saw action at Bail's Bluff, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. He was seriously wounded in each of those encounters. After establishing a law practice in Boston, he became editor of the American Law Review and lectured on constitutional law and jurisprudence at Harvard. He wrote the book The Common Law. Appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1882, he was named chief justice in 1899. Two years later he was named to the U.S. Supreme Court, by President Theodore Roosevelt, where he served until 1932.

 


Portrait of Oliver Wendell Holmes.
Reproduction courtesy of the Supreme Court Historical Society.
Oliver Wendell Holmes

b. March 8, 1841, Boston, MA
d. March 6, 1935, Washington, D.C.


Associate Justice of the Supreme Court 
(1902-1932)


Oliver Wendell Holmes was the oldest of three children of the famous medical doctor and writer, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., a cofounder of the ATLANTIC MONTHLY. Holmes attended private school and then Harvard College, graduating in 1861. The Civil War broke out just before his graduation, and he joined the 20th Massachusetts Regiment of Volunteers and served for three years, suffering serious wounds in 1861 at Ball's Bluff, in 1862 at Antietam, and in 1863 at Chancellorsville. He had started the war an idealist and ardent abolitionist; by the end he was disillusioned and dispirited. 

Uncertain about his vocation, Holmes entered Harvard Law School in 1864 and graduated in 1866. He was admitted to the bar in 1867 and practiced without great distinction for several firms over the next 15 years. In 1880 Holmes was invited to deliver a series of 12 lectures on common law at the Lowell Institute in Boston. From the material of those lectures he compiled a book, THE COMMON LAW (1881), that brought him international recognition. In it he articulated his signature judicial philosophy: "The life of the law has not been logic: it has been experience. ... The substance of the law at any given time pretty nearly corresponds, so far as it goes, with what is then understood to be convenient." In effect, Holmes argued, law and its interpretation shift with the shifting demands of history and adjust to what the majority of people believe is necessary and fair. This novel theory challenged prevailing beliefs that law was a set of rules applied by formal logic.

In 1882 Holmes became a professor at Harvard Law School, and later that year he was appointed to the Massachusetts Supreme Court, on which he served for 20 years. In 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt nominated Holmes to the Supreme Court, but soon found himself disappointed with his choice, commenting, "Out of a banana I could carve a firmer backbone." In fact, on political matters Holmes could not be easily pigeonholed. He was solitary, introspective, and solemn. He once commented, "I wonder if cosmically an idea is any more important than the bowels." He had a skeptical, fatalistic view of the world, colored by his experiences in the Civil War. Though he believed in judicial restraint -- the idea that the Court should defer to the popular will as embodied in laws passed by legislatures -- he respected the validity of legal precedent.

Holmes was not a progressive, but his belief that people had the right to make whatever laws they liked, good or bad, led him to defend the progressive legislation of his day. He became known as the "Great Dissenter" for his eloquent minority opinions, and he was renowned for his concise, often trenchant expression of ideas. In what is probably his best-known phrase, writing for a unanimous Court in Schenck v. United States (1919) he advocated the "clear and present danger" test for evaluating state infringement upon the freedom of speech, and he used the example of a person "falsely shouting fire in a theater." He served until he was 90 years old. He wrote more than 2,400 opinions as justice on the Massachusetts Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court, and he is generally considered one of America's greatest justices.

Fitchburg Sentinel, 6 March 1935,

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