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Massachusetts Thirty-Ninth Infantry, Regimental History.
Charles L. Peirson, from Lieut. Colonel July 13, 1864; owing to the stress of the "Battle Summer" campaign, his severe wound at the Weldon R. R. August 18, '64, and subsequent absence from the Regiment, not to mention the red tape that ever did hedge military matters about, it was not till the 23d of November, 1864, that Colonel Peirson was mustered in to his rank: the Records of the War Department, Washington, D. C, state.
Peirson is now held and considered by this Department, under the provisions of the Act of Congress, approved February 24, 1897, to have been mustered into the service of the United States in the grade of Colonel, Thirty-ninth Massachusetts Infantry, to take effect from July 13, 1864, and to have held that rank until the date of his discharge from service.
Upon the recommendation of Major General G. K. Warren, Peirson was commissioned Colonel of Volunteers by brevet, to date from March 13, 1865, for meritorious conduct in the battles of the Wilderness and Spottsylvania in May, 1864, and as Brigadier General of Volunteers, by brevet, to date from March 13, 1865, for gallant and meritorious conduct in the battle of the Weldon Railroad in August, 1864.
After months of prostration, incident to his wound, and on the clear evidence of his inability to return to the Regiment, Colonel Peirson resigned and was mustered out of the service January 11, 1865. Subsequent to the war, General Peirson was long in the iron business, Boston; on his retirement therefrom, he found occupation for his well earned leisure in historical studies, particularly with reference to the Civil War, being a member of the Loyal Legion, which he commanded, 1895, and the Massachusetts Military Historical Society. His city residence is at 191 Commonwealth Avenue; his summer abode is at Pride's Crossing, city of Beverly.
Charles L. Peirson, 28, S. ; civil engineer, Salem; wd. May 8 and 10, '64, Spottsylvania; prom. Colonel; Charles Lawrence Peirson was born in Salem; was graduated from Lawrence Scientific School, Harvard, 1853; was a Corporal in the Fourth Battalion, under Major T. G. Stevenson, which in the spring of 1861 did gratuitous service in Fort Warren, Boston Harbor; later commissioned First Lieut, and Adjutant in the Twentieth Massachusetts, he was taken prisoner at the Battle of Ball's Bluff and suffered three months' confinement in Libby Prison, Richmond; on his return to his regiment he was detailed for special service on the staff of General N. J. T. Dana and also later upon that of General John Sedgwick, thus passing through the Peninsula campaign; it was while on sick leave from such service that he was notified of his appointment to his new position in the Thirty-ninth Regiment.
Surgeon General Files.
CASE 691. Lieutenant-Colonel Charles L. Pierson, 39th Massachusetts, was wounded at an engagement near the Six mile House, Wei don Railroad, August 18, 1864, and was taken to the 3d division hospital of the Fifth Corps. Surgeon L. W. Read, U. S. V., reported "a gunshot wound penetrating the pelvic cavity." The Massachusetts Adjutant Oneral 1 states that the wound was considered mortal. The following day the colonel was sent to the depot at City Point, where Surgeon W. L. Faxon, 32d Massachusetts, described the injury as a dangerous shot wound of the abdomen. On September Kith, the late Assistant Suigeon J. Sim Smith, U. S. A., saw the patient, and included this case in an important report made by him on the usefulness of the Nolaton probe, relating the circumstances as follows:
"Lieutenant-Colonel Pierson, 39th Massachusetts, who had been wounded August l8, th., by a ball, which had penetrated the pubis on the right side, near the sympliysis, and entered the pelvis, stated that at the time he was shot he was standing erect, and that alter receiving the wound he walked some distance. When I saw him, he was lying on his back, with his thighs Hexed upon the abdomen, which was tender and tympanitic, with an ecchymosis extending over the iliac and hypogastric regions. He had well-marked symptoms of peritonitis and cystitis, with a profuse and foetid discharge from the wound. After complete anaesthesia had been induced, a flexible catheter was passed into the wound to ascertain the course of the ball. It was found that after it had passed through the pubis and penetrated about two inches obliquely to the left, it had turned still more to the left and passed transversely across the pelvis.
A Nelaton probe, with a flexible shaft bent to suit the course of the wound, was then entered without difficulty for about eight inches, and upon its removal the metallic lustre upon the porcelain bulb was very distinct. Being still uncertain as to the exact locality of the ball, the probe was again introduced, and it was found that pressure made upon the left .side, behind the trochanter major, caused the p:obe to be thrust from the wound. Upon cutting directly down behind the trochanter, the ball was found lying almost in direct contact with, and upon the outer side of, the femur.
The extraction of the ball was followed by a tree discharge of foetid pus, and in a day or two his condition improved, and he is now recovered." The missile (Fid. 184) was sent to the Museum by Dr. Smith. Promoted to a colonelcy, this officer was honorably discharged January 4, 18t?5, and pensioned. The Pension Record states that, on March 5, 1865, the wound was still open and discharging, and the disability was rated at three-fourths, and probably not permanent. The wound subsequently healed soundly, and, alter May 15. 1868, the colonel ceased to draw a pension.
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