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1st Massachusetts Inf. Wound Badge


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        This silver wound badge is engraved on the shield shaped broach , “1st Regt.M Vols “ . Also engraved on the minie  ball , “ Chas A Dwyar Co A “ . The Minnie ball also has a Massachusetts state seal on one side and a oval plaque (originally with blue enamel background) on the other side , this plaque has 7 battle honors listed on it , Blackburn’s Ford , Williamsburg , Fair Oaks ,Glendale , Malvern Hill , Bull Run and Fredericksburg. As with many Corps and I.D. badges these were evidently issued in the spring of 1863 listing Fredricksburg  as the last battle (its also possible the manufacturer ran out of room )

        I’ve been able to find 7 images of these being worn (civil war data) 5 appear to be war time with 2 being in civilian clothes (probably early post war images). Of these seven images I was able to document 5 of the soldiers as being wounded. This does not convince me that this badge is not a wound badge , to the contrary given the amount of errors I’ve encountered in civil war records and badges I would be surprised if there were no mistakes. Further I have found a gold badge that was issued post mortem . This badge list  the date and location where the soldier was killed .

        Because it’s in my nature to have all the information I can find on my badges I began to search for documentation on these badges being presented. I have read the unit history , two diaries and two reunion pamphlets. Further I’ve contacted Faneuil Hall in Boston , the NPS , MOLLUS Massachusetts Comandery and several museums. All to no avail. I’ve also contacted several dealers I know and none have any information on these badges other than they are war time. It seems the history of these pieces has been intentionally omitted. 
       The best information I can find is , these are wound badges.  Silver for one and gold for two wounds or (gold) fatally wounded .

       The hunt for documentation on these has been great fun. Any help or ideas from forum members is greatly appreciated. And a big thanks to Andrew Lipps at Wartime  Collectables for this great badge.
         Images below of my badge . The badges being worn are from , “Civil War Data “ . Thanks.   Mike 

    18F56897-FC6F-48F6-A649-B25FF4E560D0.jpeg.97980135bc68c54a37c1913d068d3295.jpeg2C8937D1-70BE-4775-AB61-B6A06123F8AD.jpeg.3135d0f147ccc13767cdf9ace5301da5.jpeg08A3680C-2F01-4F6C-8EE3-9B3C55A26AE6.jpeg.0cab8ab7f8d9fe05de2d03dc2d924e2a.jpeg0F995CA4-1034-4231-8F76-6EE4133E9CD6.jpeg.fe30389bf755c5d12f345a530925ded1.jpegC7F1EF55-CE56-41DE-93A0-C0391111D9FD.jpeg.d54f36dd4d9e37752ed177efbb8ae673.jpeg

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Here is a silver version from a recent Civil War badge collection.

Recipient verified Wounded in Action. Appears one wound. I had assumed the award of Bronze, Silver or Gold was number of wounds but appears variants are for severity of wound.

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Wartime Collectables Military Antiques
Andrew H. Lipps
email wartime@wartimecollectables.com
On the web at http://www.wartimecollectables.com

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A great badge!  Thanks for sharing.  

 

Agree that the hds isn't the "end all" on documentation-- it is a great start point for research, but I have found many guys with significant history not documented.

 

Good luck with further research.

 

Scott 

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     Andrew thank you for posting the badge and research. I’am confident the original information you gave me on these badges is correct. My research points definitely to that conclusion. I’ve forgotten who said it , ( some politician I think ) “ if it walks like a duck , quacks like a duck and looks like a duck , then it’s probably a duck “. These badges are wound badges . I believe that and somewhere there will be a record of it , I just haven’t found it yet. 
      Scott thanks for commenting. You’re right it is a great place to start and I’ve found the site management also excellent to deal with. Please let me know if you come across any images of these badges being worn . Thanks again to you both.  Mike

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These are wonderful badges and definitely wartime, apparently available in Spring 1863, after Fredericksburg but before Chancellorsville given the battle honors on them, but I'll play devil's advocate and say the jury is still out on whether they are wound badges or regimental badges. My own take is that these were commercially available and, like id shields, could be had in silver or in gold. (There is a reference above to bronze, silver and gold, but I have seen them only in silver and gold. If there is a bronze one it should be posted.) There is a silver one that belonged to a Gettysburg KIA enlisted man who had no previous wounds in a private collection in Wisconsin, which tells me that at the very least the difference in metal was not the severity of wound. The badge referenced above with the Captain's name on it who was killed at Chancellorsville is certainly a memorial badge purchased by or given to a relative, but the fact that it is gold may simply be that they wanted the higher grade version of it. The regimental history mentions that Col. McLoughlin instituted a number of changes after Fredericksburg to improve discipline and morale. I think the badge was likely one of them.

It is certainly correct that wounds are not always caught in the records, but once you get several apparent exceptions to the badge=wound hypothesis I think it might be the hypothesis that needs work not the records. (If these were PA badges I would not be so sure. The online records for that state are usually based on Bates, who used muster out rolls, and the resulting records are not very good. Massachusetts is quite a bit better though.) Nevertheless, much more research does need to be done and it will be interesting to see what else turns up. This is an interesting thread.

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On 8/20/2020 at 11:24 AM, wartimecollectables.com said:

"I had assumed the award of Bronze, Silver or Gold. "

EXCELLENT INFORMATION on this thread! I need to amend (and apologize) for this erroneous statement! There is no bronze version of this badge, only Silver and Gold. Between correcting an infuriating spell check program and a rewrite I misspoke in my attempt to clarify a difference between the two types known.

Wartime Collectables Military Antiques
Andrew H. Lipps
email wartime@wartimecollectables.com
On the web at http://www.wartimecollectables.com

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Hello Steve , 

        One dealer that I reached out to was convinced the badges are identification badges and were awarded silver for enlisted and gold for officers . Or as you point out that may been a matter of personal preference . What pushed me towards the wound badge hypothesis was the post mortem award , this seemed to me to show the badges were not given out as I.D. badges. I had completely overlooked the possibility of them being individually purchased, and focused only on them being awarded. 
         I was hopeful of getting more information or suggested contacts at civil war shows but that will have to wait . I’ve run out of ideas of where to look . The last avenue in my mind is , “ The Official Records “  . I was hopeful MOLLUS would reply to my emails but after several weeks I don’t think that will happen.  I will continue to search for documentation as I enjoy the hunt.  
         Any suggestions greatly appreciated.   Thanks Mike
   

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From time to time I have checked newspaper listings for them using key word searches in hopes that the jeweler making them might have advertised them, but with no luck so far. I focused on Boston papers from January through July 1863, but that may be too narrow in time frame or locale, in addition to such searches sometimes being just hit or miss. Anyway, these badges are very cool. Keep posting on your work. Great stuff!

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Starting from topic a bit, but seems Massachusetts regiments like their minie' balls ... AKA bullets!

The monument to the 21st Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment at Antietam is on the east side of Antietam Creek at Burnside Bridge.

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Wartime Collectables Military Antiques
Andrew H. Lipps
email wartime@wartimecollectables.com
On the web at http://www.wartimecollectables.com

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  • 2 weeks later...

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