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This Supreme Court Justice was a Civil War Officer

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr, Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court from 1902-1932, served as an officer in the 20th Massachusetts regiment during the Civil War. He appointed Supreme Court juror by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Holmes, who was born in 1841 in Boston, Massachusetts on March 6. He received a commission as First Lieutenant of his regiment at the age of twenty. The regiment was known as “the Harvard regiment” due to the large number of Harvard students, including Holmes, who enlisted. He saw action in battles in the Peninsula campaign and the Wilderness. He was wounded three times – at the battle of Balls Bluff near Leesburg, VA; at the battle of Antietam at Sharpsburg, MD and at the battle of Chancellorsville.

At Balls Bluff, Holmes received a severe bullet wound to the chest. He recuperated back home in Boston and then returned to his regiment. At Antietam, he was hit in the neck, again receiving a severe wound. Again he convalesced at home and then returned, only to receive a gunshot wound to the heel.

When he retired from the war he received brevet ranks of Colonel and Major.

Today is Judge Holmes birthday.

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