The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Beehive series: Civil War 

Dr. Lincoln R. Stone, Civil War Surgeon

Gallipolis, Ohio is a village of 3,462 people nestled on the banks of the Ohio River. It has a few claims to fame, including being the birthplace of artist Jenny Holzer and hometown of Bob Evans of “Bob Evans” restaurants. Unrelated to conceptual art or country-themed restaurants, the town also played a major role in the American Civil War as the site of an extensive U.S. Army General Hospital for Civil War soldiers.

From the society’s collections: a hand-drawn map of the hospital, which stood from April 1862 until July 1865


The (unknown) artist drew detailed representations of the multi-building hospital, numbering and labeling each structure at the bottom of the map.

"Numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 are hospital ward buildings."


The first four buildings are the dedicated hospital wards for the sick and injured. Building 5 is the two-in-one office and dispensary. The surgeon’s quarters and staff quarters are buildings 6 and 7, respectively. A dining hall and kitchen, house for the dead, bakery, laundry and linen room, stable, carpenter’s shop, and coal house round out the number of buildings at 14.


The hospital map is officially titled in our online catalog, ABIGAIL, as “Plan of U. S. A. Hospital at Gallipolis, Ohio, where Dr. and Mrs. Lincoln R. Stone spent the first seventeen months of their married life.” A military hospital doesn’t sound like an ideal place to honeymoon, but Dr. Lincoln R. Stone of Newton, Massachusetts was called to action to become the head surgeon of the hospital at Gallipolis immediately after his wedding in February 1864. He would reside there until the hospital’s closure in July 1865.

From the National Museum of African American History and Culture

A native of Maine, Dr. Stone graduated from Harvard Medical School in 1854 and worked at Massachusetts General Hospital for a year before opening his own medical practice. In 1861, duty called him to serve as assistant surgeon to the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry. At Winchester, Virginia, Stone was taken prisoner after refusing to abandon the hospital in his charge. He survived this ordeal and continued his military service, transferring to the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment upon the direct invitation of his close friend Robert Gould Shaw.

Robert Gould Shaw’s name has been buzzing through the halls of the society following our recent acquisition of the sword he wielded at Fort Wagner just before his death. Due to Dr. Stone’s consistently shifting posts at military hospitals, Dr. Stone would come to learn of Shaw’s death secondhand.

"...we learned that Col. Shaw was shot dead through the heart and was buried in the fort."


In this copy of a letter from our archives, which was sent to Massachusetts Governor John Andrew, Dr. Stone himself informs the governor of Shaw’s passing and of the total loss experienced at the battle.

"The whole loss in the attack of Fort Wagner was 1,510 - of these almost one half were killed."

About seven months after the Fort Wagner attack, Stone married Ms. Harriet Hodges of Salem, Massachusetts and moved to Gallipolis to assume his post as resident surgeon. On October 1st, 1865, to honor his service, Stone was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. Subsequently, he was mustered out on October 13th, 1865, and would return home to Newton to continue practicing medicine.

His wife Harriet Hodges Stone would become well-known to the community 30 years later as the founder of the Newton branch of the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women.

Dr. Stone would come to live well into his nineties. He is buried at Harmony Grove Cemetery in Salem, Massachusetts with his family.

To view these featured American Civil War materials in person, consider visiting the library at MHS. If you get here sometime this summer, you can view Robert Gould Shaw’s sword while you’re at it!

You can also find additional information about the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women within our collections, though you will find those specific to the Newton branch and Harriet Hodges Stone at Harvard’s Houghton Library.

In Gallipolis you can visit the historical marker where the U.S. Army General Hospital once stood, on the corner of Ohio and Buckeye Avenues.


Sources and Related Materials:

Marquis, Albert Nelson, ed. Who’s who in New England: A biographical dictionary of leading living men and women of the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. Chicago: A.N. Marquis & Company, 1916.

“12-27 U.S. Army General Hospital,” Remarkable Ohio, accessed July 29, 2017,

Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women. Newton Branch Committee. Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women Newton Branch Committee records, 1894-1902.

United States. Army. General Hospital, Gallipolis, Ohio. Army General Hospital of Gallipolis, Ohio: Correspondence, orders, rules, and regulations. 1864-1865. Located in: Modern Manuscripts Collection, History of Medicine Division, National Library of Medicine, Bethesda, MD; MS C 24.;idno=army024

“Carte-de-visite album of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment,” National Museum of African American History and Culture, accessed July 28, 2017,


comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Friday, 4 August, 2017, 2:26 PM

A Treasure Rediscovered: The Civil War Sword of Robert Gould Shaw, 54th Regiment

Today, the MHS is happy to unveil a recent acquisition to the collection. On 12 July the Society announced the acquisition of a significant collection of Shaw and Minturn family papers, photographs, art, and artifacts. The most remarkable item in the collection is the officer’s sword carried by Colonel Robert Gould Shaw, 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment – the first Northern regiment composed of free black volunteers. One hundred fifty-four years ago, Shaw carried the weapon during the failed assault on Fort Wagner, Morris Island, South Carolina. With sword in-hand, Shaw was shot in the chest while mounting the parapet and was killed. The sword and other personal effects were stolen from his body during the night and presumed lost.

However, the sword survives. Following acquisition of the sword from descendants of the Shaw family, the collections staff here at the MHS had the daunting task of tracing the provenance of this sword in order to ensure that it is the genuine article.  

What follows is a brief chronology of Robert Gould Shaw and his sword, as laid out by Curator of Art & Artifacts Anne Bentley, and Senior Cataloger Mary Yacovone, who combed through various sources published, primary, and otherwise. [N.B. – These events are arranged chronologically but, as with much historical research, the pieces fell together in anything but clear order.]


Nov. 1860 – Robert Gould Shaw (RGS) enlists in the 7th NY Militia.

28 May 1861 – RGS commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, Company H, 2nd Massachusetts Infantry.

8 July 1861 – RGS commissioned 1st Lt. in same.

10 Aug 1861 – RGS commissioned Capt. in same.

31 Mar 1863 – RGS commissioned Major, newly-formed 54th Massachusetts Regiment.

17 Apr 1863 – RGS commissioned Colonel, 54th Mass. Regt.

[mid-late April 1863?] – RGS’ uncle, George R. Russell, orders an officer’s sword for Shaw from master English swordsmith Henry Wilkinson.

11 May 1863 – Wilkinson sword no. 12506 proofed on this date, per Henry Wilkinson records.

23 May 1863 – Wilkinson sword no. 12506 etched and mounted on this date. Sold to C. F. Dennett, Esq., per Henry Wilkinson records.

28 June 1863 – RGS wrote to his mother: “Uncle George has sent me an English sword, & a flask, knife, fork, spoon &c. They have not yet come.”1

29 June [1863] – “June 29 – Monday. “Arago” in and mail from the North.”2

1 July 1863 – RGS wrote to his father that “A box of Uncle George’s containing a beautiful English sword came all right.”1

4 July 1863 – RGS wrote to his father that “All the troops, excepting the coloured Regiments, are ordered to Folly Island. … P.S. I sent you a box with some clothes & my old sword. Enclosed is receipt.”1

16 July 1863 – Mass. 54th participated in the Battle of Grimball’s Landing, James Island. RGS probably used his new Wilkinson sword in this action. First experience under fire for the 54th, which stood strong and proved its mettle covering the retreating Union forces.

18 July 1863 – Assault on Fort Wagner. RGS shot in the chest as he stood on the parapet of Ft. Wagner, sword in hand. Overnight his body was robbed of personal effects and arms and stripped to underwear. Sources differ as to the culprits.

19 July 1863 – RGS buried. According to Brig. Gen. George P. Harrison, C.S.A. writing to Luis F. Emilio much later, RGS was placed in the rifle pits below the parapet and 20 of his dead soldiers placed on top of him. Sources here differ also.

 22 July 1863 - In a letter to his family, Capt. Luis Emilio, Company E, describes the attack on Fort Wagner just four days prior:

Through the grace of Providence I passed safely through the terrible assault of Fort Wagner last Saturday night last [sic] and where our Regt was fearfully cut up, we lost our beloved Col. (Shaw) killed on the parapet, two Capts. missing (probably killed) – three four Capts wounded and three Lts., our Adjt. And Major also wounded. Nearly three hundred men killed, wounded or missing in all. We had the advance of everything; were not allowed to fire a gun, and charged clear up to the fort, but it was no use. Terrific fire from Wagner, Sumter, Johnson, Moultrie, and Cumming’s Point concentrated was too much for us, and we had to fall back. 3


Friday 24 [July 1863] – John Ritchie diary: “Packed up Col. Shaw’s effects & expressed them North.” Ritchie later noted that he also sold the colonel’s horse.

3 June 1865 – Letter from Brigadier General Charles Jackson Paine, district commander at New Berne, N. C., to family:

Goldsboro June 3, 1865. I heard the other day of the sword of the late Robt. G. Shaw killed at Fort Wagner, in the possession of a rebel officer about sixty miles from here. I sent out and got it; the scabbard was not with it. I am going to send it on as soon as I have an opportunity.4

28 Jan 1876 – Letter from Lydia Maria Child to John Greenleaf Whittier:

I spent last winter with the parents of Colonel Shaw…The flag of the 54th Regiment was in their hall, and the sword of Colonel Shaw. There is a history about that sword. It is very handsome, being richly damascened with the United States coat-of-arms, and the letters R. G. S. beneath. It was a present from a wealthy uncle in England, and he received it a few days before the attack on Fort Wagner […] When his mother showed me the weapon she said: "This is the sword that Robert waved over his followers, as he urged them to the attack. I am so glad it was never used in battle! Not a drop of blood was ever on it. He had received it but a few days before he died."5


Detail of the sword, showing United States Coat-of-Arms and initials R.G.S.

(Photograph by Stuart E. Mowbray)

1900 – At a meeting of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States, Commandery of Massachusetts, Brev. Lt. Solon A. Carter, U.S.V., presented a paper titled “Fourteen Months’ Service with Colored Troops,” in which he stated:

In July [1865], upon leaving the service, the late Assistant Adjutant General* was charged by General Paine with the duty of restoring the sword to Colonel Shaw’s father, and upon arrival at this home, opened a correspondence with Mr. Francis George Shaw informing him of its recovery.

        The sword in question proved to be the one carried by the gallant colonel and was identified by the initials R.G.S. delicately etched upon the blade. In a postscript to one of his letters, Mr. Shaw wrote, "The sword was a present to my son from his uncle, Mr. George R. Russell, who purchased it in England and caused the etchings to be made there."

        In a subsequent letter acknowledging its receipt he says "I thank you most heartily for all the care and trouble you have taken. So far as such words may be applied to an inanimate thing it is the weapon which has done most for our colored people in this war, and it is to me likewise as well as to you a source of great satisfaction that is was recovered and restored by officers of colored troops.”

*Captain Solon A. Carter, of Leominster, Mass., served as C.J. Paine’s Assistant Adjutant General. Appointed 15 July 1864 and resigned 3 July 1865.

Mar 2017 – The sword was found in the attic of the home of Mary (McCawley) Minturn Haskins.

6 Apr 2017 – In an e-mail to MHS Curator of Art & Artifacts Anne Bentley, one of the donors stated:

Susanna Shaw Minturn is my great-grandmother and apparently was very close to her brother, RGS. Her oldest son, Robert Shaw Minturn, had no children; there were four girls and my grandfather, Hugh Minturn (who died in 1915, before his mother). I can only guess, but presumably my great-grandmother passed the sword on to my father, Robert Bowne Minturn, not her oldest grandson, but the senior by male primogeniture. My father was 15 when his grandmother died in 1926. The sword may have hung on his childhood bedroom wall.

17 Apr 2017 – Shaw sword is given to the Massachusetts Historical Society as part of a larger gift including papers and portraits.


1. Shaw, Robert Gould, Blue-eyed child of fortune: the Civil War letters of Colonel Robert Gould Shaw / edited by Russell Duncan, (Athens : University of Georgia Press, c1992.)

2. Lt. John Ritchie’s diary, Quartermaster of the Massachusetts 54th Volunteer Infantry Regiment, whose diary was used by Luis F. Emilio in A Brave Black Regiment.

3. Luis F. Emilio to his family, 22 July 1863, Luis F. Emilio papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

4. Paine, Sarah Cushing, Paine ancestry : the family of Robert Treat Paine, signer of the Declaration of Independence, including maternal lines / compiled by Sarah Cushing Paine ; edited by Charles Henry Page, )Boston : Printed for the family [Press of D. Clapp & Son], 1912.

5. Child, Lydia Maria Francis, Letters of Lydia Maria Child / with a biogrpahical introduction by John G. Whittier and an appendix by Wendell Phillips, (Boston: Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1883).





comments: 2 | permalink | Published: Tuesday, 18 July, 2017, 10:00 AM

Selections from MHS in the New "Remembering Lincoln" Digital Collection

On 14 April 1865, while attending a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., President Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth.  The event was tragic and shocking. Lincoln died the next morning, 15 April, and people all over the country struggled to comprehend what had happened.

Ford's Theatre, a National Historic Site and a working theatre, has recently launched a new digital collection, Remembering Lincoln.  Two dozen institutions, including the Massachusetts Historical Society, have contributed digital images, metadata, and transcriptions of materials about the assassination of President Lincoln to this online collection. Researchers can read first-person accounts of the startling event, examine newspaper articles, explore printed documents and broadsides, and look at artifacts.

Several remarkable manuscripts from the collections of the MHS are included in the Remembering Lincoln collection.  Two letters were written by Augustus Clark, a War Department employee, who was one of the men who moved Lincoln after he was shot from Ford's Theatre to Petersen's boarding house.  One of Clark's letters (addressed to S. M. Allen) fully describes his impressions of the evening and the tragic event.  In the other letter, written to Massachusetts Governor John A.  Andrew, Clark mentions enclosing a piece of cloth with Lincoln's blood with the correspondence.  Both letters (letter to S. M. Allen and letter to Gov. Andrew) and also the towel fragment are viewable on the website. 

Another item featured in the digital collection is an excerpt from the young Boston diarist, Sarah Gooll Putnam.  Only 14 years old in April of 1865, her reaction was poignant.  She drew a shocked face on her diary page along with the following words:   

Now guess my feelings, when coming down to breakfast, at mother's saying "The president is killed!" I stared so [handwritten mark pointing to illustration] for a few minutes without speaking. I cannot realize it yet.  Poor, dear, old, Abe.

Please explore the whole Remembering Lincoln website:


A browse display of the items that MHS contributed to Remembering Lincoln is also available:



comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Tuesday, 14 April, 2015, 1:00 AM

Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch Diary, Post 42

The following excerpt is from the diary of Stephen Greenleaf Bulfinch.

Thursday, March 2d.

Thank God for the triumphant progress of the Union arms, the occupation of Savannah, Columbia, Charleston, and Wilmington.


comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Tuesday, 31 March, 2015, 12:00 AM

Newly Digitized Photograph Collection

Collection Services at the Massachusetts Historical Society has recently created a collection guide for, and fully digitized, the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment carte de visite album, ca. 1864-1865 (Photograph Collection 228).

The 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment was a "colored volunteer" regiment active from 9 January 1864-31 October 1965. Formed at Camp Meigs, Readville, Massachusetts, was commanded by some notable sons of Massachusetts including Charles Francis Adams Jr., Henry S. Russell, Charles Pickering Bowditch, and Henry Pickering Bowditch. The regiment saw some action in the war, notably in a battles which took place at Baylor's Farm and the Siege of Petersburg in Virginia.

This collection consists of a photograph album containing 46 carte de visite photographs of officers from the regiment. In addition to those named above, the regiment included Edward Jarvis Bartlett, Daniel Henry Chamberlain, Patrick Tracy Jackson, and others. The album includes a two-page handwritten index which identifies all but one of the photographs. Each image appears on a page beautifully bordered, as can be seen in the examples presented here.

The cover of the album, also stunning, is embossed: "Col. H. S. Russell. 5th Mass Cavalry" and features the original, still-functioning brass clasps to keep the album closed. Henry S. Russell (1838-1905), an 1860 graduate of Harvard University, served several ranked positions in the Union Army reaching Lieutenant-Colonel of the 2nd Massachusetts Infantry and Brigadier-General of the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry. In 1864, Russell married Mary Hathaway Forbes, the daughter of the influential Boston businesman, railroad magnate, and abolitionist John Murray Forbes, and was a cousin of Robert Gould Shaw, Colonel of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment.

Another family connection, but this time within the 5th Massachusetts Cavalry Regiment, were the brothers Henry Pickering Bowditch (1840-1911) and his younger brother Charles Pickering Bowditch (1842-1921). Both were Harvard educated; Henry being a physician and physiologist as well as dean of Harvard Medical School, and Charles becoming a financier, archaeologist and linguistics scholar.

This is the seventh fully digitized Civil War photograph album at the Massachusetts Historical Society. The MHS has additional fully digitized Civil War materials available, as well. Further Reading: Morse, John T., Jr. "Henry Sturgis Russell." In Sons of the Puritans: A Group of Brief Biographies. Boston: American Unitarian Association, 1908:153-162.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Tuesday, 17 March, 2015, 8:00 AM

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