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W.S. Clark

W.S. Clark

Federal (USV)


William Smith Clark

(1826 - 1886)

Home State: Massachusetts

Education: Amherst College, Class of 1848

Command Billet: Commanding Regiment

Branch of Service: Infantry

Unit: 21st Massachusetts Infantry

Before Antietam

A chemistry professor at Amherst, he had graduated there in 1848 then received a PhD in Chemistry in Gottingen, Germany in 1852. He enrolled in the 21st Massachusetts Infantry, mustering as Major of the Regiment 23 August 1861, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on 28 February 1862, and to Colonel 16 May 1862.

On the Campaign

He commanded the regiment at Antietam, where they assaulted the Lower - now Burnside's - Bridge on 17 September.

The rest of the War

He was again in action at Fredericksburg in December, but resigned his commission on 22 April 1863 and returned to Amherst.

After the War

He was a founder of what's now the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in about 1867, and helped organize the Sapporo Agricultural College (now Hokkaido University) in Japan in 1876. He left teaching in 1879, and was in the mining business afterward but was ruined by a dishonest business partner.

References & notes

Life dates and places from the finding aid (pdf) to his papers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and A Yankee in Hokkaido1. Photograph here from the US Army Military History Institute (USAMHI), MOLLUS-Massachusetts Collection2, and service data from Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines3.

More on the Web

See two excellent posts about Colonel Clark here and here, and a piece about his connection with Captain Newton Manross of the 16th Connecticut, KIA at Antietam. All from Patrick Browne at his Historical Digression blog.


07/31/1826; Ashfield, MA


03/09/1886; Amherst, MA; burial in West Cemetery, Amherst, MA


1   Maki, John McGilvrey, A Yankee in Hokkaido: the life of William Smith Clark, New York: Lexington Books, 2002  [AotW citation 904]

2   US Army, Military History Institute (USAMHI), American Civil War (ACW) photographs, Military History Institute Photograph Database, Published c. 1998, first accessed 01 January 2005, <>  [AotW citation 905]

3   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  [AotW citation 1204]