Colonel Alfred Stedman Hartwell Collection, 1862-2003

Manuscript Collection 1

Table of Contents

Introduction to the Colonel Alfred Stedman Hartwell Papers

Alfred Stedman Hartwell Collage Image

The Colonel Alfred Stedman Hartwell papers include correspondence by Hartwell investigating allegations of abuse in the recruitment of Black soldiers, affidavits and statements that he gathered (from African-American soldiers and others with knowledge of the situation), and other evidence (muster rolls of Black soldiers credited to Vermont and New York, for example) relevant to the investigation.

The collection also includes mementos of Hartwell's service in the 44th, 54th and 55th Regiments of the Massachusetts Infantry, including numerous photographs of Black and white soldiers (among them Robert Gould Shaw), and general and special orders pertaining to freed slaves.

The 20th-century material concerns the identification of photographs and additional information about selected soldiers.

Additional Resources

Colonel Alfred Stedman Hartwell Biography (1836–1912)

Alfred Stedman Hartwell was born in Dedham, Massachusetts, on June 11, 1836. Civil War records describe him as having been a law student; he graduated from Harvard University in 1858.

From May 8, 1861 to August 17, 1861, he served as a corporal in the 3rd Missouri Infantry. He was commissioned a 1st lieutenant on August 22, 1862, and was mustered into Company F, 44th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry on September 12, 1862; he resigned from that regiment and was discharged for promotion on March 31, 1863. Hartwell was next commissioned a captain in the 54th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry and was discharged on May 14, 1863, for promotion in the 55th Massachusetts Infantry. On November 3, 1863, he was commissioned a lieutenant colonel in that regiment. He was wounded at Honey Hill, South Carolina on November 30, 1864, brevetted as a brigadier-general on December 30, 1864, and mustered out on April 30, 1866.

Because of his experience with Black regiments, he spearheaded an investigation into abuses in the recruiting of Black soldiers in the South. From 1865 to1866, Hartwell led the investigation into these alleged abuses. Brevet Brigadier-General M.S. Littlefield was the subject of many accusations that indicated that he enrolled disabled Blacks, known deserters, and others into the 21st Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops and had failed to pay bounties due to the men. As a result of Hartwell’s efforts, Littlefield was court-martialed.

Hartwell later served as the Representative from Natick in the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1867 and as Attorney General and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Hawaii.

He died in Honolulu on August 30, 1912.

Contact   for Colonel Alfred Stedman Hartwell Collection, 1862-2003


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Open M-F 9 a.m.–5 p.m. *Advance appointments are strongly recommended


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Main Library
Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon Street, Room 341, Boston, MA 02133
Special Collections Department
Massachusetts State House, 24 Beacon Street, Room 55, Boston, MA 02133

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