Eustace Families Association

Henry Lawrence Eustis, A.M


Second Colonel

10th Massachusetts. Volunteer InfantyRegiment

By : 2nd Lieut. Ed. Stanard, 10th Mass. Vol. Inf. Reg't, Co. C

Henry Lawrence Eustis is an interesting study incommand. He was a brilliant man, educated at Harvard and WestPoint and instructor of Engineering at both. Generals Newton andSedgwick both praised him in their reports from theChancellorsville Campaign for "gallant service"(O.R.-Series I-Volume XXV/1). Why was he still a Colonel as lateas August 1863, by which time his classmates had almost all beenpromoted to General?

Eustis was born in Fort Independence, Boston, Massachusetts onFebruary 1, 1819, the son of Brigadier General Abraham Eustis, anofficer in the garrison. He attended Harvard, graduating in 1838,and went to West Point, graduating first in his class of 56 in1842 ahead of such notable classmates as Richard Anderson, AbnerDoubleday, A. P. Stewart, D. H. Hill, James Longstreet, LafayetteMcLaws, John Newton, John D. Kurtz, George Sykes and Earl VanDom.

Eustis could choose his appointment, by virtue of his classranking, and elected to go into the engineers. He served onprojects along the east coast, including the construction of FortWarren in Boston Harbor. He also spent two years (1847 - 1849) asan instructor of engineering at West Point. In 1849 he resignedto become professor of engineering at the new Lawrence ScientificSchool of Harvard.

In August of 1862, despite poor health, Eustis became Colonel ofthe 10th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry Regiment. He joined theregiment at Alexandria on September 2, 1862. On arrival, Eustisordered a dress parade to review his new command. Roe, in TheTenth Regiment Massachusetts Infantry, 1861 - 1864, page 134,reports, "However much we might burnish up what regimentalswe possessed, we could not overcome certain lackings, painfullyapparent; thus fifteen men had to appear in their drawers, minustrousers, and twenty were barefoot, but the deficiencies did notprevent all handling their guns in a manner to draw enthusiasticapplause from the white-gloved soldiery to whom the realities ofwar were yet unknown. With so much moving about, rations hadbecome scarce and hunger, under the very dome of the Capitol,became a possibility."

Eustis appears to have been somewhat of a martinet. His firstmonth with the 10th was an inauspicious start. On November 25,1862, he ordered Lieutenant Wallace A. Putnam (Company E) placedunder arrest for refusing to obey his order. Roe, page 152, says,"It appears that Lieutenant Putnam, then in command of theCompany, on account of the lack of shoes had excused some of hismen from drill; this coming to the ears of the Colonel, heordered the Lieutenant to take the men and with them bring woodfrom a pile left by the Rebels, until he directed him to cease.Considering the command an unreasonable one, under thecircumstances, the officer flatly refused to obey and was at onceplaced under arrest." Putnam was found not guilty andresigned his commission on January 14, 1863. He went on tohonorable service as Captain of the Fifty-sixth Mass., and wasmortally wounded May 24, 1864, at the North Anna. He had beencommissioned Major, but was never mustered." Thus the Tenthlost a good officer.

On September 27, 1862, eleven officers of the Tenth Mass.resigned in protest of the appointment of Dexter F. Parker toMajor of the Regiment. Eustis informed the officers that theywere in violation of the seventh Article of War (mutiny andsedition), that he would hold their resignations over night, butif they persisted they would face arrest and court martial. Tworecanted; the rest were tried and dismissed from the service (butthat's another story in itself). Colonel Eustis must have had hisdoubts about his new command at this point.

Eustis was in temporary command of the brigade (at that time theSecond Brigade, Third Division, Sixth Corps) for months beforereceiving permanent command and promotion to Brigadier General(USV) in September of 1863. The Tenth Mass. raised $300 for thepurchase of a sword, sash, and belt, which they presented toEustis at Brandy Station on February 19, 1864. He led the brigadeat Fredericksburg (after Col. Browne of the Thirty-sixth NY waswounded), Marye's Heights, Salem Heights, Gettysburg,Rappahannock Station, Mine Run and the Wilderfiess. Perhaps the IOth's gallantry in these actions settled his doubts about theregiment.

On May 8, 1864, the last Union assault of the day was to takeplace on the Brock Road about 1 1/2 miles from Spotsylvania CourtHouse. William D. Matter, in If It Takes All Summer, The Battleof Spotsylvania. says, "The Union order of battle for theattack east of the Brock Road was, from left to right, Col.Daniel D. Bidwell's (formerly Niell's) and Eustis's brigades ofthe Second Division, Sixth Corps, with Crawford's two Fifth Corpsbrigades of Pennsylvania Reserves to their right.... Theformation of Eustis's brigade was Tenth Massachusetts and SecondRhode Island in the front line and Seventh Massachusetts andThirty-seventh Massachusetts in the second. As the brigadeprepared to move into position for the advance, it was observedby a group of horsemen, which included Generals Grant, Meade,Warren, and Sedgwick. Eustis appeared to be experiencingdifficulty maneuvering the brigade properly, and Sedgwick becameextremely embarrassed. Finally, he ordered a member of his staffto ask Col. Oliver Edwards, commander of the Thirty-seventhMassachusetts, the reason for the delay, which was disgracing theSixth Corps. Edwards replied that Eustis was drunk, and he addedthat he could position his regiment properly for the attack inthirty seconds, given the authority. Sedgwick immediately orderedEdwards to assume temporary command of the brigade and to placeit into line, which he did." Edwards remained in command ofthe brigade until its expiration of service.

Eustis, temporarily relieved of command of the Second brigade,Sixth Corps, and "now apparently sober" [Matter, page103] was transferred to command Russell's brigade when Russellreplaced Wright in Division command.

A dispatch from Assistant Secretary of War Charles A. Dana toSecretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, dated Cold Harbor Va., June12, 1864--12 noon refers thus to Eustis, "General Eustis isrelieved of his command and ordered to Washington. He is to beinformed that if he does not resign, charges of neglect of dutyand general inefficiency will be preferred against him. He issaid to eat opium. [O.R.--Series 1--Volume XXXVI/l]

Special Order No.34 from T.S. Bowers, AAG of the Armies of theUnited States, per order of Lieutenant- General Grant, dated June12, 1864 says "Ill. Brig. Gen. H. L. Eustis, U.S.Volunteers, is hereby relieved from duty with the Army of thePotomac, and will at once proceed to Washington, D.C., and reportto the AdJ utant- General of the Army and await orders."[O.R.-
Apparently Eustis left for Washington immediately. Special OrderNo. 209 from E.D. Townsend, War Dept. AAG, dated June 16, 1864says "40. Brig. Gen. H. L. Eustis, U. S. Volunteers, havingreported to this office in compliance with instructions fromLieutenant-General Grant, will repair to Cambridge, Mass., wherehe will remain until he receives further orders. By order theSecretary of War."

He resigned on June 27, 1864, one week after the TenthMassachusetts left for home, citing reasons of ill health. It isnot known whether his "ill health" was the cause or theresult of his opium habit, for opium was used to treat a varietyof illnesses in those days.

Eustis returned to his professorship at Harvard, authoring anumber of technical and scientific articles. Henry LawrenceEustis is the author of Genealogy of The Eustis Family (1878). Hedied on January 11, 1885, and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemeteryin Cambridge.