The 3rd GVI captures the flag of the 15th Massachusetts

Researched by Steve Holbrook


This past week I was searching the War Dept. records of captured Union flags and found a flag captured by the 3rd Georgia Volunteers. The flag captured was the national colors of the 15th Massachusetts Regiment. It was taken by Private Oscar E. Nickerson, Company D, on June 22, 1864 at Petersburg, Va. During a flank attack by Brig. Gen Mahone this flag was captured. The US War Department recorded this capture as # 91 on its list of captured Union flags.

Also, this flag was returned to the state of Massachusetts on September 13, 1894. This flag is located in Boston at the State House Museum.

Here is a public resolution attached to the captured Massachusetts flags for their return.

"Public Resolution - No. 44

Joint Resolution Instructing the Secretary of the War to return to the State of Massachusetts the flags of certain regiments of massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

Resolved by the Senate and House of representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That the Secretary of War be and is hereby, instructed to return to the State of Massachusetts the regimental flags of the Fifteenth, Nineteenth, Twenty-third, and Fifty-eighth Regiments of Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, as requested by the governor of said State.

Approved August 27, 1894"

Hnad written note on the same card:

" Flags sent to Secy War - for the Govr of Mass with ??? Sept. 13. 1894. See 5507AG filed with 3620 AGO1894."

I have located a battle report from Brig. Gen. Byron R. Pierce about the operations of June 22, 1864. This report is located in the Official Records of the War of Rebellion (O.R.), volume 40, part 1, Report 60 on page 370. It states that half of the 15th Massachusetts was captured from an attack from the rear. This was reported to the General by the 15th commander. The 3rd Georgia is unidentified, referred to as "the enemy."

The book The Last Citadel:Petersburg, Virginia, June 1864 - April 1865, by Noah Andre Trudeau, on page 75 has the capture report of a soldier from the 15th Mass. On page 74 the header for this section is : Union Lines, West of the Jerusalem Plank Road. At the bottom of page 75 is the capture report:

"Disaster struck two small veteran regiments, the 15th and 19th Massachusetts. 'With the enemy in front, flank and rear, surrender was inevitable,'a soldier in the 15th remembered. 'The tattered shot-ridden flag was seized by hostile hands, and the eventful history of the Fifteenth ...was ended'"

Page 76 tells of a Georgia regiment capturing the 19th massachusetts flag.

Civil War bullet"Return Fire" to 3rd GVI History Page, 2/1/2003