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W. Berry

W. Berry

Federal (USV)


William Berry

(1825 - 1862)

Home State: Massachusetts

Branch of Service: Sharpshooters

Unit: Massachusetts Sharpshooters, First Company

Before Antietam

From the late 1840s to 1861 he published a "variety of semi-erotic books and periodicals" in Boston, was a wood block engraver, artist, and printer, and ran the Boston newspapers Life in Boston (c. 1849-56) and Banner of Light (1857-61), which evolved into a spiritualist-centered publication and survived him, running to 1907.

Berry’s residential locations followed the pattern of printers-turned-publishers in Boston: When his business did well, Berry lived farther from work and in areas of town associated with the residences of established printers. In the last years of his operations, he became more transient and boarded at hotels.
He gave his age as 36 and occupation as publisher when he mustered as a Sergeant in the First Company, Massachusetts Sharpshooters on 3 September 1861, and by October he was acting Ordnance Sergeant. He was commissioned 2nd Lieutenant on 20 March 1862 and promoted to First Lieutenant on 4 April 1862.

On the Campaign

He was killed in action at Antietam on 17 September 1862.

References & notes

His service from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts1 and his Compiled Service Records,2 online from fold3. His gravesite is on Findagrave, source also of his picture, from a photograph of unknown provenance contributed by Elton Brumfield.

More on the Web

See much more about Berry and his pre-war world from Dr. E. Haven Hawley in her PhD thesis American Publishers of Indecent Books, 1840-1890 (2005), source of pre-war details and the quotes above, and William Berry: Publisher, Scoundrel, Spiritualist, a presentation she prepared for a conference in 2016.


1825; Salem, MA


09/17/1862; Sharpsburg, MD; burial in Forest Hills Cemetery, Jamaica Plan, 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, pp. 206 - 213  [AotW citation 2700]

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 29164]