|National Color (1st to be issued by the Commonwealth)|
of the 30th Massachusetts
Image Courtesy of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Within the next couple of weeks (January 1st), some very detailed diary accounts and letters from several men of the 30th will start telling the tales of the men who served. At the moment I have three different sets of diaries and letters from different men that will cover the year of 1862. Two of these sources have already been published through the internet, but to my knowledge no one has yet drawn information from the third. I am currently in the process of transcribing this whole diary so that I can share the information it contains (it is also quite interesting to me that I have found the family of the man that wrote the diary, and not knowing that it existed, they are as eager as I to see what it has to say). I am also in the process of try to obtain the diary of another officer (that will also have to be transcribed) that covers the year of 1864, and a set of letters from two brothers within the regiment. There is still yet another diary that went at auction several months ago (I wish I had seen it in time to make a bit myself), and if I can track the new owner and make a deal I will try to transcribe and post this as well. If all goes well I will have this information to share one day.
I know this sounds very ambitious, and yet I still have one other project on my mind that I would like to complete. To my knowledge no one has yet done a full statistical analysis on the men of the 30th Massachusetts. I have all the records needed to complete such a process, and hopefully the determination to finish it as well. So far I have finished formatting my program for entering the data, and I am just about to start entering all of the information that I have (Name, Age, Residence, Occupation, Wounds, Desertion, etc...) for the roughly 2000 men that served in the regiment. This will be the most daunting project for this blog. I may only be able to make it through a few names a day (between entry and crosschecking the facts), but I hope at some point it will give a better insight into the 30th.
Until I have entered the data I cannot give percentages, but I have already started to pick up several patterns after looking at the service records of all the men. 1. Every regiment has desertions throughout the war, and that number is higher for some that others, and you can see a pattern of where/when the men take their leave. It's normal to see men leave while the regiment is forming (some of them are bounty jumpers, some just change their mind), but from what I have seen so far, I must say that the proportion of the men from the 30th that chose desertion is much higher than any other regiment I have seen so far. 2. In the battle of Cedar Creek in October of 1864 the 30th takes moderately high casualties. After looking at the records and seeing just how badly two or three companies suffer, it is becoming easy to see which units were on the flanks of the regiment as it was being overwhelmed that day. Eventually I will have much more data to support both of these ideas and even to formulate several others.