Report of Col. Edward N. Hallowell
54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry,
on the engagement at Olustee, Florida

Major Edward Needles Hallowell, 1863.
MOLLUS—Mass. Collection, USAMHI.

Born on 3 November 1837 in Philadelphia, where he grew up in a Quaker family with strong abolitionist beliefs, Edward Needles Hallowell was a merchant in Medford, Massachusetts when the war began. He enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 20th Massachusetts in January 1862, and saw action in the Peninsula Campaign, and at Antietam and Fredericksburg. He was promoted to 1st Lieutenant in November 1862. Edward then transferred to the 54th Massachusetts as a Captain in March 1863. His brother Norwood was originally the lieutenant colonel of the regiment, but was soon transferred to take command of the all-black 55th Massachusetts Infantry. As a result, Edward Hallowell was promoted to major in April 1863, then lieutenant colonel in May. He assumed the position as second in command of the regiment, under Colonel Robert Shaw.

When Colonel Shaw was killed in the attack on Battery Wagner, South Carolina, on 18 July 1863, Edward Hallowell also suffered three wounds and was sent home to Massachusetts to recover. Promoted to colonel soon after, he returned to command the 54th in September 1863. After the Battle of Olustee, the 54th returned to the Charleston, South Carolina area, where it took part in the siege of Fort Fisher and Charleston. Colonel Hallowell was often in brigade command, with Lieutenant Colonel Henry Hooper assuming command of the 54th. Hallowell was promoted to Brevet Brigadier General of U.S. Volunteers in June 1865 and was discharged in August 1865, returning to civilian life. He died on 26 July 1871, probably from the effects of his wounds, in Medford, Massachusetts. (from A Brave Black Regiment)

Jacksonville, Fla., March 1, 1864.

LIEUTENANT: At 8.30 o'clock on the morning of February 20, 1864, the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers left Barber's with its colonel, lieutenant-colonel, 13 line officers, and about 480 enlisted men, the rest of the regiment having been detailed for other duty. It marched in charge of wagon train to Olustee, at which place the train was stopped and the regiment moved forward at the double-quick about 2 miles, where it was formed in line between the railroad and dirt road, under a sharp fire from the enemy. In this formation it advanced some 200 yards through a swamp, driving the enemy from some guns, and checking the advance of a column of the enemy's infantry. After firing about 20,000 cartridges, the melt of the regiment were ordered to retreat by Col. James Montgomery, commanding brigade. A new line was formed on the right of the dirt road, where the regiment staid till after dark, when it was ordered, through Colonel Barton, to march back to Barber's, where it arrived one hour after midnight.

Their loss in officers was 3 wounded—Capt. R. H. L. Jewett, First Lieut. H. W. Littlefield, and First Lieut. E.G. Tomlinson—in enlisted men, killed, 13; wounded, 63; missing, 8; total, 87.

The State color three times fell and each time was caught up by another corporal. Sergt. Stephen A. Swails, acting sergeant-major, deserves special praise for his coolness, bravery, and efficiency during the action; he received a severe but not mortal wound in the head.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Colonel Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Volunteers.

Lieut. R. M. HALL,

Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.

Copied from The Official Records of the War of Rebellion.

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