MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT JOHN M. DEANE’S FROCK COAT - IRISH BRIGADE OFFICER WHO TRAINED 54th MASSACHUSETTS RECRUITS

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Item Code: 846-229

This regulation infantry major’s coat was preserved by the family with a significant trove of artifacts belonging to John M. Deane. When the war broke out Deane was a 29 year-old teacher in Freetown, Mass. He had been in the Massachusetts Militia as a member of the Assonet Light Infantry since 1858 and he rushed south to defend Washington as part of the 3rd Massachusetts Volunteer Militia. They were called into service on the afternoon of 15 April 1861 and set out 18 April 1861, not actually being mustered into service until already in the field. Deane’s enlistment and commission as Second Lieutenant of Co. G thus date 23 April 1861. The unit served three months, evacuating and firing the Gosport Navy Yard and garrisoning Fortress Monroe. Deane was mustered out 22 July 1861.

Deane then enlisted and was commissioned 1 June 1862 as a 2nd Lt. in the 29th Massachusetts, in which he served to the end of the war. He was promoted to 1st Lt. with a commission to date 12/29/62 and Adjutant 11/1/63; Captain 6/8/64 (mustering 10/12/64;) Major 5/15/65 (mustering to date the same day;) and subsequently a brevet to Major of US Vols to date 3/25/65. The 29th Mass. served for a time with the Irish Brigade during the Seven Days Battles and at Antietam, where they fought in front of the Sunken Road. The regiment afterwards transferred to the 9th Corps, serving in Mississippi and Tennessee from most of 1863, then moved back east for a brief stint in the 5th Corps, and then to the 9th Corps again for Grant’s overland and Petersburg campaigns. They saw action at Gaines Mill, Savage Station, White Oak Swamp, Antietam, Jackson (Miss.,) Campbell’s Station (Tenn.,) Bethesda Church, Cold Harbor, Petersburg in the siege and assault of June 17, Weldon Railroad, and Fort Stedman on March 25, 1865, Lee’s last attempt to break the siege at Petersburg, where Deane was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for helping man an artillery piece under heavy fire and aiding in the repulse of the Confederate attack. They lost a total of 4 officers and 53 enlisted men killed or mortally wounded during their service. Deane’s letters have been published and several of the regiment’s official reports for 1864 and 1865 were penned by Deane and are part of the Official Records.

The coat is in pristine shape, with great color and virtually no mothing. In fact, all the artifacts in this collection were carefully preserved and cared for by the family, and the coat is documented as having been moth-proofed by a descendant in 1952.

The coat is preserved with its history written on the brown paper wrapper in which the family kept it after having it cleaned in 1952: “Dress uniform coat of J.M. Deane /Civil War 1861-1865 / Repacked by Great Grandson / Bruce Deane White / April 1952 / Moth Proofed…”

 

Medal of Honor Citation

In a letter dated March 8, 1895, Col. W. F. Ainsworth informed Deane that he had been awarded the Medal of Honor "for most distinguished gallantry in action at Fort Steadman, Virginia, March 25, 1865, in serving with other volunteers, a previously silenced and abandoned gun, mounted en barbette, at Fort Haskell, being exposed to a galling fire from the enemy's sharpshooters." The Massachusetts records state: This officer, observing an abandoned gun in Fort Haskell, called for volunteers, and, under a heavy fire, worked the gun until the enemy’s advancing line was routed.”

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