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Captain and Brevet Major John Bigelow, U.S.V.

Captain and Brevet Major John Bigelow was born at Brighton, now a part of the city of Boston, Massachusetts, February 4, 1841, and graduated from Harvard University in the class of 1861.

He enlisted as a private in the Second Massachusetts Light Battery, April 24, 1861, being the first Harvard undergraduate who enlisted for the war. On May 2 he was elected second lieutenant of artillery, M. V. M., and on July 31 was mustered as first lieutenant Second Light Battery, Massachusetts Volunteers.

The battery was stationed at Baltimore, Maryland, from August until November, drilling and parading for "moral effect" and to keep that city loyal. During November and December it was with Lockwood's expedition into Accomac and Northampton Counties, Eastern Virginia, to disperse a body of rebels organizing in that section.

On December 16, 1861, Lieutenant Bigelow was made adjutant First Battalion Maryland Light Artillery, stationed at Eastville, Fast Virginia, and served by detail as acting assistant adjutant-general on staff of General Lockwood, commanding district, until May, 1862, when his battalion joined the Artillery Reserve, Army of Potomac, at Yorktown, Virginia. While acting assistant adjutant-general he secured and gave to General McClellan plans of the Norfolk (Virginia) defenses; also authentic information as to the crippled condition of the "Merrimac" after its engagement with the "Monitor." He took an active part in the artillery duels so frequent during the building of New Bridge across the Chickahominy and in the Seven Days' battles.

At Malvern Hill, Virginia, July 1, 1862, Lieutenant Vannerman, of his battalion, being wounded, he took command of his section, on detached duty near the West House. Although others had refused, and he had already lost many men, he advanced one of his guns and saved two regiments of Couch's division, which were short of ammunition and being cut off, firing the last shots of the battle, about nine o'clock P.M. (five rounds of canister); first, however, receiving a volley from the rebels, which shattered his left arm, besides killing and wounding a number of his cannoneers. He was present at the battle of Fredericksburg, Va., crossing with Franklin's grand division, and resigned his adjutancy December 31, 1862.

February 11, 1863, he was made captain Ninth Light Battery, Massachusetts Volunteers, stationed at Fort Ramsay, Virginia (fortifications of Washington).

In three months he had his command ready for field-service, and in June was assigned to the Second Brigade Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac.

On July 2, 1863, under heavy artillery fire, he reinforced the hard-pressed lines of the Third Corps, near the Peach Orchard, at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

Bigelow himself was shot through the hand and body. He rejoined his battery at Warrenton, Virginia, three months later, and was on the Culpeper campaign and at Mine Run. During the winter of 1863-64 he commanded the Second Brigade Artillery Reserve, Army of the Potomac, and during the Grant campaign of 1864 his battery was attached to the Fifth Corps Artillery, taking part in the battles of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania Court-House, North Anna, Jericho's Ford, Tolopotomy, Virginia; Bethesda Church, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, and siege of Petersburg, Virginia.

Captain Bigelow was brevetted major U. S. Volunteers August 1, 1864, "for gallant services during the operations before Petersburg, Virginia," where he followed, with his battery, General Chamberlain's charge; dropped his guns "in action" within three hundred yards of the enemy's works, and, although the infantry were driven back, he held his advanced position until nightfall, when he was relieved and the position entrenched.

As the result of his wounds he was on sick-leave from August to October, 1864; during October and November was a member of the Military Commission, Baltimore, Maryland, and after establishing his battery in winter quarters before Petersburg he was "honorably discharged on account of physical disability," December 16, 1864.

He was a member from Boston of the General Court of Massachusetts, sessions of 1873 and of 1874, and originated the "Standard Policy of Insurance" now adopted by many States. He has made many improvements in the manufacture of hosiery, hats, and flour, also generally used. He married Mrs. Julia B. Gardner (nee Barber), and resides at Minneapolis, Minnesota.

He is, by transfer from the Massachusetts Commandery, a member of the Pennsylvania Commandery, Military Order Loyal Legion of the United States.

Source: Officers of the Volunteer Army and Navy who served in the Civil War, published by L.R. Hamersly & Co., 1893, 419 pgs.

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