Chester H. Ballard papers  1862-1864
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Biography

Ballard, Chester H.

Rank : Pvt., Cpl. (1862 Sept. 20); Sgt. (1864 July 1)

Regiment : 37th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. Co. A (1862-1865)

Service : 1862 August 18-1865 June 21

Chester H. Ballard and his older brother George, farmers from Chicopee, Mass., enlisted in Company A of the 37th Massachusetts Infantry in August 1862. Organized at Camp Briggs, and comprised mainly of men recruited in the four western counties of the state, the 37th Massachusetts was sent to the vicinity of Washington, D.C., via Fort Hamilton, N.Y., but it was some time before they found a definite corps assignment. Once attached to the 6th Corps of the Army of the Potomac, however, they soon found themselves involved in the thick of the war. Joining the main body of the army in the Blue Ridge in November, they participated in the Battle of Fredericksburg, helping to lead the crossing of the Rappahannock on December 11th, and covering the retreat on the 15th.

After overwintering near White Oak Church, the 37th participated in the assault on Marye's Heights (2nd Fredericksburg) on May 3rd, and were engaged on the following day at the Battle of Salem Church. Later in the summer, they were rushed into action at Gettysburg, arriving to participate in the action on July 3rd, and were then ordered to New York City to quell the draft riots. Their most memorable action, however, may have been during the Wilderness-Spotsylvania campaigns in May 1864. Thrown into confusion at the Battle of the Wilderness, the regiment lost 54 men, and a few days later that lost another 32 at the Bloody Angle in Spotsylvania. The 37th Infantry remained in the vicinity of Petersburg, suffering continual losses in both men and morale, until ordered to help repel Jubal Early's raid on Washington late in the summer. Newly equipped with Spencer seven-shot repeating rifles, the regiment pursued Early into the Shenandoah Valley and was placed under Philip Sheridan's command during the fall campaign of 1864. They were engaged at Charles Town and the 3rd Battle of Winchester, before being returned to the Petersburg front in December. Though their ranks were greatly reduced, the 37th remained active until the final battles of the war in the east, including the final assault on Petersburg, Sailor's Creek, and Appomattox Court House.