ORNATE GAR PAST COMMANDER’S BADGE OF ROBERT MORRISON, POST 40, MALDEN, MASS.

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Item Code: 30-2260

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This is an ornate gold and gilt brass GAR officer’s badge with a silver eagle in the miniature shoulder strap just below GAR eagle pin bar and white bordered flag ribbon indicating past Post Commander. The ribbon shows some soiling and wear on the reverse. Pinned to its front is a brass Massachusetts state crest, and the bar below that reads “POST 40.” The drop is a GAR star with wreath around it and the central panel bearing the lettering “GRAND ARMY OF THE REPUBLIC / 1861 VETERAN 1866” with black enamel left on the upper arc of letters and worn somewhat from the bottom. The reverse of that central portion is professionally engraved in small block letters with flourishes: “PRESENTED TO / PAST COMDR / ROBERT MORRISON / by Post 40 / G.A.R. / MALDEN / JAN. 7, 1904.”

Robert Morrison (1843-1918) was Post Commander in 1903 and in the parade at the dedication that year of the equestrian statue of Gen. Joseph Hooker, which is ironic in some way since he commanded GAR Dept of Massachusetts Post 40, the “H.G. Berry Post,” named in honor of Maj. Hiram G. Berry, killed at Chancellorsville, not one of Hooker’s finest performances. The post had been chartered in Malden in October 1873 (taking the number of the defunct Lincoln Post of North Weymouth, that had surrendered its charter earlier that year) and survived until 1940.

Morrison served for more than three years. Records list his residence as Hartford, Connecticut, and that he enlisted 1/31/62, and mustered in 1/2/62 as a private in Company L, 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery. He made Corporal 4/13/63, but was reduced to the ranks as a private on 5/25/64. He mustered out with regiment 9/25/65 at Washington. The 1890 veteran census credits him with 3 years, 7 months and 20 days service and mentions he had “lumps on head from shell,” indicating a wound, or close encounter, at some point. Originally recruited as the 4th CT Infantry, Morrison joined it when it converted to heavy artillery added two companies in January 1862, the new companies and recruits needed to bring it up to strength arriving 3/15/62. The regiment was active in the Peninsula campaign, serving heavy guns with its own detachments and providing men to beef up regular batteries, earning battle honors for the “Siege of Yorktown, Hanover C. H., Chickahominy, Gaines' Mills, and Malvern." In August 1862 it was posted to forts around Washington, but elements served 4 ½ inch siege guns at Fredericksburg and were on the march in the Gettysburg campaign. In May 1864 the regiment was assigned to Butler at Bermuda Hundred for temporary service as infantry, engaging in “three sharp combats,”: including one on June 2, when Company L is specifically credited with repulsing the attack by the 22nd South Carolina on advanced redoubt Dutton, killing its colonel and taking a lieutenant and 22 men prisoner.

With the arrival of the siege train, the regiment went back to artillery duty in late June, with many batteries fighting “for days at a time, a continuous engagement” in the lines of the Army of the Potomac and the Army of the James, not only engaging Confederate land forces, but naval forces on the James River as well. Company L accompanied Terry’s expedition to Fort Fisher in January 1865 with a siege train, but the fort was taken before it was landed and the company was back in the Petersburg lines in time for Fort Stedman, being stationed with one other company of the regiment in the fort and adjacent batteries when the Confederate assault struck on March 25. The two companies lost 65 men in the fighting. Lt. Lewis of Co. L led them in the counter charge, capturing a Lieutenant and 12 privates of the 26th Georgia, along with a battle flag. Elements of the regiment served 43 guns and mortars in the final attack on Petersburg on 4/2/65. Company L was one of five supplying men for a detail of 100 carrying muskets and artillery gear in preparation for seizing enemy guns and turning them on their former owners in the attack. The succeeded in doing so with six guns, firing some 800 rounds throughout the day and into the night.

Morrison mustered out with the regiment, married in 1866, was listed as a machinist in the 1880 census, living in Boston with his wife and two children- a son and daughter. He moved to Malden some time in the 1880s and by 1900 was a widower there, living with his son and daughter, and employed as a “stationary engineer” (operating and maintaining machinery.) At the time of his death in February 1918, at age 75, he was said to have been “an engineer at Malden High” for some years.

1904, the date on the badge, was coincidentally the date the City of Malden began planning a remarkable Civil War memorial in a park laid out by Frederic Law Olmstead around a statue called “The Flag Defenders” portraying a soldier, sailor “crouching on guard” beside a color bearer. In the G.A.R. “regular ritual” in the dedication ceremonies in 1910, Robert Morrison, acting as Chaplain, read the “prayer of dedication.” This monument was in addition to their Grand Army of the Republic Statue, dedicated in 1894, and standing over the soldiers’ plot in Forrest Dale Cemetery containing the graves of 103 veterans, guarded by four cannon and decorated with shield-shaped headstones, including that of “Robert Morrison, Corp., Co. L, 1st Conn Heavy Artillery.”    [sr] [ph:L]

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