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Federal (USV)


John Norton Coffin

(1825 - 1891)

Home State: Massachusetts

Command Billet: Section Commander

Branch of Service: Artillery

Unit: Massachusetts Light Artillery, 8th Battery


see his Battle Report

Before Antietam

A 37 year old expressman from Somerville, he enrolled as Jr First Lieutenant, the 8th Massachusetts Light Artillery Battery for 6 months' service on 10 June 1862.

On the Campaign

Lt Coffin commanded the "left" section, 2 guns, of the 8th Battery at Antietam. BGen Wilcox, commanding Division, reported:

"On the 17th ... My division now formed part of a line which Generals Burnside and Cox were commanding, and all moved forward about--o'clock. We were under fire from the moment a man appeared at the crest of the plateau or crossed the hollow. Taking two pieces of Cook's battery, under Lieutenant Coffin, I moved up the road, while the two brigades gallantly advanced over the plateau toward Sharpsburg ..."

"The left [of the Infantry] coming up, soon attracted the attention of the flanking battery [of the enemy]. Lieutenant Coffin directed his pieces on the battery beyond the corn-field, and at the same time Christ threw forward the Seventeenth Michigan, with supports, to charge the battery, seeing the guns were withdrawn ... and Coffin threw solid shot, shell, and canister with great precision and effect into the enemy's ranks. The force in the orchard were dislodged, and fled up the hillside..."

"I would also commend ... the efficiency of Lieut. John N. Coffin, of Cook's battery, who, with his section, acted under my own eyes, moving up in the most dashing manner into the village, and striking with his shot on every side. He mentions his two chiefs of pieces, Sergts. William Davis and Newell B. Allen, and all his men."

The rest of the War

He was promoted to Sr. First Lieutenant on 20 September, and mustered out with the Battery on 29 November 1862 in Washington, DC. He was commissioned Captain, Company B, 5th Massachusetts Infantry for 100 days' service on 25 July 1864, and mustered out with them on 16 November 1864.

References & notes

His service from Soldiers, Sailors and Marines.1 His gravesite is on Findagrave.


03/11/1825; Portsmouth, NH


07/08/1891 Watertown, MA; burial in Proprietors Burying Ground, Portsmouth, NH


1   Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Adjutant General, Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, 8 Vols, Norwood (MA): Norwood Press, 1931-35, Vol. V, pg. 445; Vol. I, pg. 340  [AotW citation 17518]