SKETCHES IN VIRGINIA BY RICHARD HOLLAND, 9TH MASSACHUSETTS LIGHT ARTILLERY – “UPTON’S HILL AND FORT RAMSAY” – JAN., 1863

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Item Code: 955-25

Here is an original sketch completed by Richard Holland, who created outstanding sketchbooks of locations and battle scenes that he experienced while a soldier in the 9th Massachusetts Artillery. This page was removed from his book he titled, “SKETCHES IN VIRGINIA”. Page is signed and dated, “R.H. JAN. 1863”. Sketch is titled, “UPTON’S HILL AND FORT RAMSAY – OCCUPIED BY THE 9TH MASS. BATTERY – HEAD QRS ACTING BRIGADIER GEN GUINEY”. Sketch shows a side view of a house and outbuildings on the top of a hill, with a row of tents pitched to the right. At the far right is a wagon, horse, and a U.S. flag, which shows red colored stripes. At the bottom of the hill are two horses with riders and a covered wagon. Soldiers are shown among the tents, and walking on the road which runs along the side of the hill.

Upton’s Hill straddles the border of Arlington County and Fairfax County, Virginia. The hill is occasionally identified as Upton Hill, and during the Civil War many references to this and other slight variances were found in newspaper accounts and soldiers’ letters home. Upton’s Hill takes its name from Charles H. Upton, a newspaper editor from Ohio who settled in the vicinity in 1836. Upton continued his newspaper activities from his home in Virginia for over three decades. By the time the Civil War opened in 1861, Upton had built a fine home atop the hill, on the northeast corner of today’s Wilson Boulevard and McKinley Street. The home was surrounded by fruit orchards and was a working estate. Union troops occupied the hill and Upton’s home. Upton’s Hill played a locally important role during the war, as the Union Army command used the home as its headquarters. The fruit trees were cut and a large masonry fort was constructed opposite the road (now Wilson Boulevard), at the hill’s topmost point. This fort was originally called Fort Upton but was later renamed Fort Ramsay.

Page measures 6 ½” x 9 ¾”. Paper has yellowed with age. Shows light surface dirt.

Also included with sketch is a facsimile copy of the cover to Holland’s sketchbook which reads, “SKETCHES OF VIRGINIA – SKETCHES AROUND WASHINGTON D.C., ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, UPTON’S HILL & CENTREVILLE. BY R. HOLLAND, MEMBER OF THE 9TH MASS. BATTERY”. Colorful flags flank the wording.

Richard Holland was born to Michael and Joanna Holland in Ireland on March 15, 1842. He came to the United States with his family at age 12 and settled in North Bridgewater, Massachusetts. Eventually Holland became an apprentice to Captain Lucius Richmond and learned the trade of a painter in which profession he was engaged when the Civil War began.

The now 21 year old Holland enlisted in the office of the selectman of North Bridgewater on July 29, 1862 and was assigned to the 9th Massachusetts Light Battery. At the time of his enlistment Holland was described as being 5’ 6 ½” tall with blue eyes, black hair and a dark complexion.

The 9th Massachusetts Battery served with the 5th and 9th Corps of the Army of the Potomac. Private Holland served as the #4 crewman on a gun in the left section of the battery and was responsible for priming and firing the gun on command. He was present with the battery throughout its service being engaged at Gettysburg, Mine Run, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Bethesda Church, Totopotomoy, Petersburg, Weldon Railroad, Hatcher’s Run and the pursuit of Lee. The batteries heaviest loss occurred at Gettysburg where they were very heavily engaged on July 2nd on the Trostle farm. During that action they lost 8 men killed, 19 wounded and 1 missing. Holland was mustered out at the close of the war on June 6, 1865 and brought home with him a sketchbook in which he had kept drawings of people and places related to his service.

He was married twice. The first time to Miss Cecilia Pray in May of 1866. Sadly she died at age 36 of heart disease in April of 1880. The couple had two children, Charles born August 9, 1870 and Mary Cecilia born October 3, 1872.    Mr. Holland married for the second time on July 1, 1882 to Marietta M. Monk. The couple had no children.

After the war Holland resumed his trade as a painter. He became known for his skill graining and later in frescos. His paintings were found in churches throughout the area of his hometown as well as in the Brockton City Hall in Brockton, Massachusetts. His work in the town hall was considered “handsome and spirited.” The frescos depict the battle between the USS KEARSARGE and the CSS ALABAMA, Fort Sumter, the Monitor and the Merrimack, the 12th Massachusetts Battery going into action at Antietam, a Union drummer boy and a mounted cavalry scouting party led by his former employer Lucius Richmond.

Aside from the Brockton Town Hall, Holland also became known for smaller canvas paintings of still life, landscapes etc... However he avoided portraiture in which he felt he did not excel.

In 1884 he returned to Gettysburg as part of a commission to look into the placement of a memorial to the 9th Massachusetts Battery. While there he added to his wartime sketchbook numerous views of the Gettysburg battlefield.

Holland was a member of the Fletcher Webster Post #13 of the GAR and Appomattox Regiment of the Union Veteran’s Union. He was known for lending his artistic talents to any organization he was a member of and without payment.

When he died of pneumonia on January 12, 1906 he was remembered as a helpful, modest, unassuming and kind person. He is buried in Union Cemetery in Brockton, Massachusetts.

Holland’s military records accompany this item.  [SL]

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