Norwood Penrose Hallowell

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Norwood Penrose Hallowell in 1862, then a captain in the Union Army.

Norwood Penrose "Pen" Hallowell (April 13, 1839 — April 11, 1914) was an officer in the Union Army during the American Civil War. One of three brothers to serve with distinction during the war, he and his brother Edward Needles Hallowell both became commanders of the first all-black regiments. He is also remembered for his close friendship with and influence upon future Supreme Court justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., who was his classmate at Harvard and his comrade during the war.

Background and education[edit]

Hallowell was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1839 to Morris Longstreth and Hannah (Penrose).[1] Norwood and his brothers, Edward Needles and Richard Price, were raised in a household that was strongly Quaker, and strongly abolitionist; during the Civil War, their father opened his home as a hospital for wounded Union soldiers.[2] He attended Harvard College, where he befriended Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.. He graduated in 1861 and was elected the Class Orator.[3]

Civil War service[edit]

Hallowell's fervent abolitionism led him to volunteer for service in the Civil War, and he inspired Holmes to do the same.[4] He was commissioned a first lieutenant on July 10, 1861, joining the 20th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry with his brother, Edward, and Holmes.[5] Hallowell fought in the Battle of Ball's Bluff on October 21, 1861, in which he distinguished himself by leading a line of skirmishers to hold off Confederate forces. Hallowell then swam across the Potomac River, constructed a makeshift raft, and made several trips to the Virginia bank to rescue trapped Union soldiers before his raft fell apart.[6] Hallowell was promoted to captain on November 26, 1861.[7] He was wounded in the Battle of Glendale on June 30, 1862, and suffered more severe wounds in the Battle of Antietam on September 17.[8] His left arm was shattered by a bullet but later saved by a surgeon; Holmes was shot in the neck. Both took refuge in a farmhouse (a historic site now known as the Royer-Nicodemus House and Farm) and were eventually evacuated.[9]

On April 17, 1863, he was promoted to lieutenant colonel, as second-in-command (after Colonel Robert Gould Shaw) of the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first all-black regiments in the U.S.[10] On May 30, he accepted Governor John A. Andrew's personal request that he be made colonel in command of the 55th Massachusetts, another all-black regiment.[11] He and his regiment were stationed at Charleston Harbor and participated in the siege and eventual taking of Fort Wagner; Hallowell was one of the first to enter the fort after its abandonment.[12] Hallowell faced continuing disability due to his wounds, and was discharged on November 2, 1863.[13]

Later life[edit]

Hallowell moved to New York City, where he first worked for the commission house of Watts, Crane & Co., followed by a partnership with his brother Richard, as Hallowell Brothers and later Hallowell, Prescott & Co.[14] Hallowell married Sarah Wharton Haydock (1846–1934) in New York on January 27, 1868.[15] They had six children together: Anna, Robert Haydock, Norwood Penrose, John White, Esther Fisher, and Susan Morris.[16]

He moved to Medford, Massachusetts in 1869.[17] He became a wool broker in Boston, and was made vice president of the National Bank of Commerce of Boston in 1886.[18]

Death and legacy[edit]

Hallowell died in 1914. Holmes wrote several days later that his death had left "a great space bare for him." Hallowell had been his "oldest friend...[and was] the most generously gallant spirit and I don't know but the greatest soul I ever knew....[H]e gave the first adult impulse to my youth."[19] African American writer Benjamin Griffith Brawley dedicated his 1921 book, A Social History of the American Negro, "to the memory of Norwood Penrose Hallowell (1839-1914), patriot."

Writings[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Rand, p. 277.
  2. ^ Brawley 1921, p. vii. Senator Charles Sumner also rested there after his attack on the Senate floor.
  3. ^ Brooks, Whitmore & Usher 1886, p. 483; Brawley 1921, p. vii; White 1993, p. 31. Holmes was elected Class Poet.
  4. ^ White 1993, pp. 31–32, 477. They initially left Harvard to do so, but returned to graduate.
  5. ^ Brooks, Whitmore & Usher 1886, p. 483; Rand 1890, p. 277.
  6. ^ Menand 2001, pp. 35–36.
  7. ^ Brooks, Whitmore & Usher 1886, p. 483.
  8. ^ Brooks, Whitmore & Usher 1886, p. 483; Brawley 1921, p. vii.
  9. ^ Menand 2001, p. 41; described in greater detail in Bowen 1944, pp. 169–170.
  10. ^ Brooks, Whitmore & Usher 1886, p. 483.
  11. ^ Brooks, Whitmore & Usher 1886, p. 483; Rand 1890, p. 278.
  12. ^ Brooks, Whitmore & Usher 1886, p. 483; Brawley 1921, p. vii.
  13. ^ Brooks, Whitmore & Usher 1886, p. 483.
  14. ^ Rand 1890, p. 277.
  15. ^ Rand 1890, p. 277; Merrill & Ruchames 1981, p. 499 n.4.
  16. ^ Rand 1890, p. 277.
  17. ^ Brooks, Whitmore & Usher 1886, p. 483.
  18. ^ Rand 1890, p. 277; Merrill & Ruchames 1981, p. 487 n.3.
  19. ^ White 1993, pp. 31, 589 n.1; Menand 2001, p. 68. Both sources quote from a April 17, 1914 letter by Oliver Wendell Holmes to Lewis Einstein.

References[edit]