Edward Needles Hallowell

Infobox Person
name=Edward Needles Hallowell

birth_date= birth date|1836|11|3|mf=y
birth_place= Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
death_date= death date and age|1871|7|26|1836|11|3|mf=y
death_place=Medford, Massachusetts

Edward "Ned" [Duncan, Russel, ed., "Blue-Eyed Child of Fortune"] Needles Hallowell was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 3 1836 to Morris Hallowell and Hannah Penrose, and died on July 26 1871 in Medford, Massachusetts. Hallowell is most notable for being one of the commanders of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He had two children, Charlott and Emily Hallowell, with his wife, Charlotte Bartlett Wilhelmina Swett.

Early life

Edward grew up in a well-to-do Quaker family in Philadelphia. His father Morris was part owner and operator of Hallowell & Company of 33 South Third Street, Philadelphia. The firm predominantly imported and sold silk from India and China. Edward's father was also a strident abolitionist. The family was far more than passive meeting attenders. The family's summer home was employed as a stop on the Underground Railroad. [Miller, Richard F., "Harvard's Civil War"]

Edward and the other children of Morris and Hannah appear to have inherited the abolitionist views of their parents. His brother Richard Price Hallowell was one of the members of the "Black Committee" [Emilio, Luis F., "A Brave Black Regiment"] that Governor Andrew of Massachusetts selected to inquire of the willingness of prospective candidates to serve in officer positions in the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

Civil War service

In early 1862 Edward joined his brother Norwood Penrose "Pen" Hallowell who was already serving in the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He served as a lieutenant. While at the 20th the regiment saw considerable action including the Peninsula Campaign, the Seven Days, Antietam and Fredericksburg. [ [http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/regiments.cfm Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System ] ]

Edward accepted an appointment in the 54th Massachusetts, which was to be led by Robert Gould Shaw as colonel and his brother Norwood as Lieutenant Colonel. [Emilio] The regiment was to be made up of white and black abolitionists fighting together for black freedom. Edward recruited African-American soldiers in Philadelphia and was actually the first officer to occupy the barracks set aside for the 54th at Camp Meigs in Reedville. [Ibid.] Recruiting for the regiment proved so successful that a second regiment, the 55th, was formed. Norwood was designated as its commander and Edward was appointed second to Shaw and departed with the regiment as a Major.

By the time of the famous assault by the 54th on Fort Wagner Hallowell was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. In the assault on Fort Wagner he commanded the left wing with half the regiment's companies. Because of the narrow defile through which the 54th had to pass the left wing was deployed directly behind Shaw and the right wing. Hallowell suffered three wounds in the assault and went home to recuperate. Upon returning he commanded the 54th as a full colonel for most of the rest of the war. [Ibid.]

The 54th and Hallowell continued to serve with distinction during the war. He fought at the Battle of Olustee, the Battle of Honey Hill and the Battle of Boykin's Mill. At Boykin's Mill, Hallowell was in command of Major General Potter's 3rd Brigade. Ironically, when the fortifications around Charleston fell along with the city it was the 54th under Hallowell that occupied various former Confederate posts including Fort Sumter and Fort Wagner. Additionally, the 54th guarded Confederate prisoners of war during this time, including some who they had faced at Fort Wagner.

Post War years

Hallowell was "brevetted" Brigadier General for his distinguished service and marched as such with the Massachusetts members of the 54th at a post-war victory review held in Boston in December 1865. After the war Edward returned to being a merchant in Medford. His wounds from the war undoubtedly cut his life short and he died in 1871.


The character of Major Forbes in the movie "Glory" is based somewhat on Edward Hallowell. Little lasting recognition of either Edward or his brother Norwood exists. One exception is at the famous Union Club [ [http://www.unionclub.org/history.html The Union Club of Boston - Club History ] ] off of Boston Common which has meeting rooms dedicated to Edward and Norwood as well as Robert Gould Shaw.


External links

* [http://battleofolustee.org/54th_mass_inf.html Edward Needles Hallowell] and the 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry at the Battle of Olustee

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