Colonel John Kurtz - 23 Massachusetts Infantry - CDV
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A standing view of Colonel John Kurtz of the 23rd Massachusetts Infantry.  Kurtz origionally was commisioned in the 13th Massachusetts Infantry as a Captain in July 1861.  On September 28, 1861 he was commisioned Lt. Colonel in the 23rd Massachusetts Infantry and became their colonel on October 23, 1861.  He resigned November 25, 1862 due to "Dissatisfication relative to rank."  He was the police chief of Boston, Massachusetts from 1863 until 1870.  He is listed on page 102 of Roger Hunt's "Colonels in Blue - Union Army Colonels of the Civil War - The New England States; Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont".  The backmark on the image is "J.W.Black, 173 Washington St., Boston."


The 23rd Massachusetts Infantry Regiment


(Three Years)


Unit History


The 23d Regt. Mass. Vol. Inf. was composed of six companies from Essex County and one each from Bristol, Plymouth, Middlesex, and Worcester. Several were recruited by men who had service in three months organizations between April and July, 1861. The companies assembled at Lynnfield, Mass., in September, 1861, and many of the men were mustered in September 28, though some were not mustered until December 5, after their arrival at Annapolis, Md. John 'Kurtz, an old militia officer, was commissioned colonel of the regiment. On Nov. 11, 1861, it left the State for the seat of war. Arriving at Annapolis three days later, it there established Camp John A. Andrew, where it remained until January, 1862, when it was attached to the Burnside Expedition and embarked for the coast of North Carolina. It now formed a part of Foster's Brigade, Burnside's Coast Division. It was present with lose at Roanoke Island, Feb. 8, and suffered a much greater loss at Newbern, March 14, among the killed being Henry Merritt, lieutenant colonel of the regiment.


In May, 1862, three divisions were formed, and the 23d became a part of Amory's (1st) Brigade, Foster's (1st) Division. The regiment was stationed in or near Newbern, N. C., during the summer and fall of 1862, engaging in two or three skirmishes with small loss. On Dec. 10, it joined the Goldsboro expedition, being slightly engaged at Kinston, Dec. 14, and heavily engaged at Whitehall, the 16th, where it lost 16 in killed and mortally wounded. It continued on to Goldsboro, but was not in the action at that place.


From the middle of January to the middle of April the regiment was absent on an expedition toward Charleston, S. C., now forming a part of Heckman's Brigade. After its return in April it formed a part of an expedition sent to the relief of Little Washington, and in July was sent on another expedition to Trenton.


On October 16, 1863, it left Newbern en route to Fort Monroe, which place it reached October 19, and encamped near Newport News. Here in the early winter over 200 officers and men re-enlisted for three years. On Jany. 23, the regiment took steamer for Portsmouth and occupied fortifications about three miles outside the city. From here it made an expedition to Smithfield in April where on the 1 6th of the month it was engaged with loss. Gen. Heckman's command was now known as the Star Brigade - 1st Brigade, 2d Division, 18th Corps - and was ordered up the James to Bermuda Hundred. It was in action at Port Walthall Junction, May 6 and 7, and at Arrowfield Church, May 9. At Drewry's Bluff (also spelled Drurys Bluff), May 16, the Star Brigade was outflanked in the fog which enveloped the field, Gen. Heckman was taken prisoner, and the 23d lost 23 killed and mortally wounded, 20 wounded, and 51 prisoners. Among the fatally wounded was Lieut. Col. John G. Chambers.


Soon after Drewry's Bluff the 18th Corps was transferred to the north side of the James and joined the Army of the Potomac near Cold Harbor. Heckman's Brigade was here commanded by Gen. George J. Stannard. In the assault of June 3 the 23d Regt. lost 10 killed or mortally wounded, 39 wounded, and 2 missing. Recrossing to the Petersburg front the regiment remained before that city until August 25, suffering frequent losses from sharpshooters.


Crossing to the north side of the Appomattox and proceeding to Bermuda Hundred the regiment embarked, Sept. 4, for Newborn again and on the 10th of the month the men were again in the familiar trenches an the Trent River. In the latter part of September the men who had not re-enlisted were sent home to be mustered out. During the autumn and winter the yellow fever raged in Newborn and the regiment suffered severely from its ravages.


On March 8, 1865, at Wise's Forks near Kinston the regiment fought its last battle losing 3 killed and 10 wounded. It now remained near Kinston until May when it returned to Newborn where it acted as provost guard until June 25, when it was mustered out of the service. Returning to Massachusetts, on July 5, at Readville, the men received their pay and their final discharge.


Regiment lost during service 4 Officers and 80 Enlisted men killed and mortally wounded and 2 Officers and 132 Enlisted men by disease. Total 218.


Item #: 14202


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