SKETCHES IN VIRGINIA BY RICHARD HOLLAND, 9TH MASSACHUSETTS LIGHT ARTILLERY – “THE FRIGHTENED MULE”, APRIL, 1863

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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”. Lower left corner is signed and dated, “R. HOLLAND, APRIL 30TH 1863”. Sketch is titled, “THE FRIGHTENED MULE – FROM A SKETCH”. Sketch features a Union soldier riding a mule that appears to be in the process of throwing him off. The mule and soldier both have frightened looks on their faces. Next to him rides another soldier who is mostly hidden by a tree. Both mules and soldiers are nicely colored. In the background one can view tents among the rolling hills and another soldier riding a mule.

Page measures 6 ½” x 9 ¾”. Paper has yellowed with age, shows light surface dirt, and lower right corner has been cut out.

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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