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J. Oliver, III

J. Oliver, III

Federal (USV)

Assistant Surgeon

James Oliver, III

(1836 - 1918)

Home State: Massachusetts

Education: Harvard Medical School

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 21st Massachusetts Infantry

Before Antietam

He studied medicine in his home town beginning in 1859, then went to the Harvard Medical School, graduating in June 1862. He "went immediately to the State House, was examined, and was promised a position as Assistant Surgeon 21st Mass. Vol." Then age 26, he was commissioned Assistant Surgeon, USV on 21 July 1862 and joined his regiment at Falmouth, VA about 10 August. He was detached to a field hospital at Centreville, VA during the 2nd Manassas Campaign and was captured along with his patients on 31 August. He got back to Union lines the next day with a wagon full of wounded troops.

On the Campaign

He treated wounded soldiers of both sides on South Mountain on 14-15 September, then marched to Sharpsburg with his regiment. He was detailed to the 51st New York Infantry on 17 September and treated the wounded "at a barn in the rear of the [Burnside] bridge in a somewhat protected place", then returned to his regiment on the battlefield on the 18th. On 11 October he was sent to the Locust Spring hospital on the Geeting Farm near Keedysville, MD, and worked there until 27 December 1862.

The rest of the War

He was promoted to Surgeon on 26 May 1864 and mustered out with the regiment on 30 August 1864 in Worcester. He was commissioned Assistant Surgeon of the 61st Massachusetts Infantry on 29 September, joining their new Colonel (former Captain) Walcott, and was appointed Surgeon on 18 October 1864. He mustered out on 16 July 1865.

After the War

He farmed cotton "for a few years" in South Carolina, but had returned to his hometown of Athol by 1870, and he practiced medicine there for the rest of his life. He was active in the Grange and other civic groups, was local medical examiner, and served on the school board.

References & notes

His service from Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines1 and his Compiled Service Records2 via fold3. Personal details from family genealogists, the US Census for 1860 - 1910, Kelly and Burrage's American Medical Biographies (1920), and his autobiographical Ancestry, Early Life and War Record (1916) [online from the Internet Archive]. His gravesite is on Findagrave. His photograph from one of two in the collection of the Massachusetts Commandery of MOLLUS (MOLLUS-Mass), now at the US Army Heritage & Education Center.

He married Kate "Minnie" Johnson (1858-1903) in January 1876 and they had 2 children.

More on the Web

See a photograph of Dr. Oliver much later in life, courtesy of Great-grandson Harry Kendrick, posted on John Banks' Civil War blog.

See both of the MOLLUS-Mass photos over on the blog behind AotW.


06/28/1836; Athol, MA


02/08/1918; Athol, MA; burial in Highland Cemetery, Athol, MA


1   Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Adjutant General, Massachusetts Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines in the Civil War, 8 Vols, Norwood (MA): Norwood Press, 1931-35, Vol. 2, pg. 596; Vol. 5, pg. 128  [AotW citation 26475]

2   US War Department, Compiled Service Records of Soldiers who served in US Volunteer organizations enlisted for service during the Civil War, Record Group No. 94 (Adjutant General's Office, 1780's-1917), Washington DC: US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), 1903-1927  [AotW citation 26476]