FROCK COAT AND LINEN TROUSERS - MAJOR ZABDIEL B. ADAMS; 7TH, 32ND & 56TH MASSACHUSETTS

$4,750.00

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Item Code: 1179-278

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This uniform group consisting of a double-breasted frock coat and white linen trousers is attributed to Major Zabdiel B. Adams of the 7th, 32nd and 56th Massachusetts Infantry; we do not have confidence in the authenticity of the ink ID’s and thus the grouping is priced accordingly. We have included Adams’ biography below, however.

Both the frock coat and trousers are named. The inside lining of the right breast pocket in the frock coat has a black ink inscription of “MAJ. Z. B. ADAMS 32d MV” while the exterior lining of the watchpocket on the trousers also has a black ink inscription of ““MAJ. Z. B. ADAMS 32d MV.” The markings are not period.

First in this small group is a double-breasted frock coat with Smith Patent major’s shoulder straps. The coat is made of a dark blue wool broadcloth with a black felt lining on the inside of the collar. On the front are six US Staff buttons arranged in rows of two for a total of twelve. There should have been seven but the bottom button on each side is missing. All but one is marked “EXTRA QUALITY” with one being marked “SCOVILLE MFG CO. – WATERBURY” and all are original to the coat. Buttons are free of dents and retain their gilt finish. The six cuff buttons (three on each of the functioning cuffs) are unmarked except for two concentric lines of dots. There are no buttons on the back of the coat. The single-bordered major’s shoulder straps are held to the coat by string ties attached to each corner. The straps have a border of false embroidered stamped brass with a dark blue felt rank field and two stamped brass false embroidered major’s oak leaves. All exterior seams are tight. Buttonholes are machine sewn. The exterior of the coat does display scattered spotting and light to moderate overall surface dirt. Black felt collar has a diagonal stress separation that can be sewn if desired. There are several very small moth holes scattered here and there. The largest is on the right chest and is pencil eraser size with another in the shoulder of the right sleeve. The coat needs a good brushing and light cleaning and it will display very well.

The interior of the coat is lined in the back, chest and skirt with black polished cotton. Overall, the lining is in excellent condition with only very minor wear. The chest area is lightly padded and quilted. Each side of the breast has a horizontal pocket. Sleeves are lined with white muslin. The junction of the sleeve and interior lining are in nice condition. Skirts have tail pockets.

Linen trousers are in first class condition. The linen has yellowed just a bit with age. There is only one hole approx. 1.25 inches long located in the back crease of the right leg approx. 5.25 inches above the cuff. This is minor and can be easily fixed. Front pockets are “mule ear” style. The left is fastened by a bone button while the right is mother-of-pearl. The waist band has six bone suspender buttons and two bone buttons fasten the waist. The fly has four bone buttons. Right front waist has a small watchpocket. Back center of the waistband has a “V” notch and size adjustment strap.

An attractive uniform set in good used condition.

Zabdiel Boylston Adams was born in Boston, Massachusetts on October 25, 1829. He attended Harvard College, but graduated from Bowdoin in 1849. He then re-attended Harvard Medical School and graduated with an M.D. in 1853.

In May 1861, he was commissioned an Assistant Surgeon in the 7th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. He served with the 7th at the battles of Yorktown, Williamsburg, and Fair Oaks. On May 26, 1862, he was commissioned as Head Surgeon for the 32nd Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry. Adams labored so long in surgeries at the Battle of Gettysburg — remaining on duty for two days and three nights — that he temporarily became blind with exhaustion. Although he regained his sight, he was discharged. He fought hard to get back into the surgical corps after being mustered out, to no avail. By 1864, Adams resorted to an unusual ploy to extend his service. He gave up battlefield medicine and rejoined the army as an infantry officer, a captain, with the 56th Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry.

Wounded at the Battle of the Wilderness, and captured by Confederate forces, he was eventually paroled and sent to the Union Hospital in Annapolis, Maryland. Because of his wound, he was discharged from the army. However, he again reapplied, and rejoined the 56th in February 1865, in time for the Siege of Petersburg. He was brevetted Major of the 56th, being promoted for gallantry and meritorious conduct in the assault before Petersburg, Va. on April 2, 1865. Records show a wound for Adams at Petersburg but no details are given.

Some interesting points of note to Adams’ career is that he was an ardent advocate for vaccination which was inspired by his pre-war experiences as a surgeon on an immigrant vessel. He was also not a firm believer in amputations, he argued for excision and other limb saving techniques. Another interesting incident is that after Adams was wounded in the left leg and captured at the Wilderness, he lay untreated for days. Gangrene set in and Dr. Adams treated himself by pouring nitric acid into the wound in spite of what he later termed “almost unendurable pain.”

After the war, Adams opened a medical practice in Framingham, Massachusetts. There he also established the public library and invited lecturers to town including his brother-in-law James T. Fields. He married Frances Kidder in 1870, but the two had a difficult marriage. Although he predeceased her, she noted in her will, "inasmuch as he has never done anything for my support and his treatment has been most upsetting and that he has tried to desert his family entirely, I have no wish to leave him anything that belongs to my estate". He died after falling over the Metropolitan Water Works dam in Southborough in 1902 and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

There is a memorial plaque to Adams mounted on a boulder on the Civil War battlefield in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Of over 2,000 memorials there, it is the only one dedicated to a physician. The text reads:

“Behind this group of rocks on the afternoon of July 2, 1863 Surgeon Z. Boylston Adams placed the field hospital of the 32nd Massachusetts Infantry, Second Brigade, First Division, Fifth Army Corps. Established so near the line of battle many of our wounded escaped capture or death by its timely aid.

Placed by the Veterans Association of the Regiment 32nd Mass Hospital”  [ad/ld] [ph:L]

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