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The Second Mass and Its Fighting Californians

A Reference site of images, articles, artifacts of the Second Massachusetts Cavalry including the Cal 100 and the Cal Battalion.

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Sergeant Henry Hale

Hale's Light Cavalry Saber and I.D. Disk
  from the Mike Sorenson collection


Henry W. Hale was born in 1833 and raised in Waterford, Oxford County, Maine, where he was well educated and held a civilian job as a bookkeeper and accountant.

Hale's military service began when he enlisted in the 3rd Michigan Cavalry, Company L. on October 1, 1861 only a few months into the WAR. He quickly rose through the ranks from private and received a commission as a 2nd Lieutenant in the 3rd Michigan unit. During most of 1862 he worked in the adjutant General's office, but was also active in the field as that regiment saw action at numerous battles, including the capture of Island #10, Boonesville, Spangler's Mills, Iuka, Corinth, and the Central Mississippi Campaign.

On May 9, 1863 Lt. Hale was arrested and court martialed under the 45th Article of War (drunkenness while in command of troops), while on a scout in the vicinity of Elmoresville and Huntington, Tennessee. In the transcript of his trial, he suggests ulterior motives by his accusers, enlists support from his many friends in the regiment, and asks for lenience, pointing to his past war record and his having risen through the ranks. Lt. Hale ended his statement by declaring his devotion to the Union saying he had joined out of patriotic motives "to add what I could to suppressing the unholy rebellion which threatened to destroy the best government the sun had ever shown upon." He added that he "wished to stay in (the cavalry) until the glorious consumption of the war."  In spite of he eloquent defense, he was found guilty of three of the four accusations against him and was "cashiered" from the service.

On November 3, 1863 Hale ventured to Boston, Massachusetts and enlisted with the famed 2nd Regiment Massachusetts Cavalry, Company H (later transferred to Co. K) as a private but was immediately promoted to Sergeant.

Sent to the Northern Virginia, the regiment was constantly engaged with Confederate John Singleton Mosby's Partisan Rangers. Some of the skirmishes and battles included Aldie, Dranesville, Leesburg, Upperville, Battle of the Wilderness, Point of Rocks, Mt. Zion Church, Poolesville, Snicker's Gap, Sheridan's Shenandoah campaign, Opequan Creek, Dinwiddie Courthouse, Five Forks, Tabernacle Church and Sailor's Creek. The last action they would see was the capture of Robert E. Lee's supply trains at Appomattox Station. Two days later, Sergeant Hale witnessed the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox Court House. The fighting had now ended for him. 

Following Henry's remarkable service in the military, and after rising through the ranks in two different Cavalry units, he returned to Maine where he resided at Peak's Island, Portland Harbor, and Gorham. He married Anna E. Russell on November 4, 1875 and died on August 20, 1897 at the age of 64. Henry was survived by his wife and son, Edward Russell Hale who was born on May 15, 1884.

Biography courtesy of Mike Sorenson