Abbott, Henry USA

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20thMass

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Aug 6, 2006
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Born: January 21, 1842
Death: May 6, 1864

Henry Abbott was born to a prominent Massachusetts family in 1842. His father, Josiah Abbott, was a judge who was active in the Democratic party. When the war broke out Henry's two brothers Ned and Fletcher would obtain commissions in the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. In July of 1861 Henry would be commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment.

Abbott would first see action at Ball's Bluff in which the regiment would suffer 87 killed or wounded and 111 captured including the regimental commander. In the spring of 1862 Abbott would see action again during the peninsula campaign and during the battle of Glendale, Henry would be wounded in the arm. The wound would keep him out of the battle of Antietam however he would return to take part in the battle of Fredericksburg. It was at this battle that Abbott's regiment would make their mark in the Civil War.

On December 11, 1862 Hall's brigade was chosen to cross the Rappahannock River and chase the rebels out of Fredericksburg. The 7th Michigan followed by the 19th Massachusetts would cross the river and clear the houses along the riverbank. The 20th Massachusetts would then cross the river and engage the rebels on Caroline Street where horrific fighting would take place. By the end of the day the rebels would retreat from the city up to Marye's Heights. Two days later Abbott's regiment would fight at Marye's Heights where again they would face heavy losses. The 20th would take 335 men into Fredericksburg and after 2 days of battles would suffer 168 casualities.

During the winter of 1862-63 Abbott and his regiment would be stationed at Falmouth and in May of 1863 would be assigned to Sedgwick and would take part in taking Marye's Heights. In the summer of 1863 Abbott's regiment would along with the rest of the Army of the Potomac would chase Lee to Pennsylvania where the battle of Gettysburg would take place. On July 3, 1863 Abbott would be at the center of Pickett's Charge and the 20th would play a part of turning back the rebel advance. By the end of the battle the regiment would suffer over 50% casualities and of the 13 officers the 20th brought into Gettysburg only three would leave the battle unwounded. Abbott was the senior of the three officers remaining and would take over command of the regiment.

In the fall of 1863 the 2nd Corps (which the 20th Massachusetts belonged to) was ambushed by A.P. Hill's 3rd Corps in which the 2nd Corps repulsed their attack. It was the first time Abbott would lead a regiment in battle.

In the spring of 1864 Grant's Overland Campaign would begin and again Abbott would be in the center of battle. The 20th Massachusetts would be defending the intersection of the Orange and Plank roads against Longstreet when Abbott would be mortally wounded. At the time of his mortal wound Abbott would reach the rank of Major. General Alexander Webb wrote in his report:

Maj.Henry L. Abbott, Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteers, died from his wounds received in the advance of his regiment. He lived but a short time after being wounded. It will be found very difficult to replace him. No truer soldier was in my command. His reputation as an officer stood far beyond the usual eulogies pronounced on our dead officers. I feel that his merit was so peculiar and his worth so well known to all the officers of the corps and to the general commanding that it is not necassary for me to attempt to do him justice. My brigade lost in him its best officer.
 
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