Shell Jacket Worn at the Battle of Gettysburg by Henry H. Stone
Sergeant Henry H. Stone’s "Lucky Coat." An impeccably documented one-of-a-kind federal-issue infantry jacket actually worn in numerous battles including Gettysburg by Sergeant Henry H. Stone, Company I., 11th Massachusetts, Army of the Potomac.
In the fall of 1861 following Bull Run, the 11th Mass. or Boston Regiment changed from state gray fatigue clothing to regulation Federal blue. It is documented that Stone later wore this very same jacket at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Locust Grove before sending it home to his mother in April 1864.
Piped in faded regulation light-blue with original sergeant’s chevrons, the wool jacket has custom- made breast pocket. With a plaid, wool flannel lining. No buttons survive. Writing home Stone referred to the battle weary garment as his "lucky coat" having survived combat in at least five major engagements through early 1864. Patched on the left sleeve, the uniform shows evidence of Stone’s "slight wound" at Gettysburg where military records confirm he was grazed in the arm by a bullet on July 2nd during the Confederate assault that threw the over-extended 3rd Corps out of the Peach Orchard.
Along with a CDV of Stone, this is the identical coat shown lower right of p.125 in the Time-Life book Echoes of Glory, Arms and Equipment of the Union. The coat survives because Henry Stone was persuaded to part with his "lucky jacket" sending it home to his mother in Charleston, Massachusetts from winter camp near Brady Station. In an accompanying letter dated April 1, 1864, provenance sold with the coat, Stone wrote, "...you wish for me to send home any of my clothes that I may have worn in the Battle of Gettysburg, I will do so at once... I will send you my "Jacket" worn in the battles of Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg and Wapping Heights—also Locust Grove."
After nearly three years of foot-slogging service as a Federal infantryman Sergeant Stone was only a month short of being discharged when cruel fate intervened. At Spotsylvania Court House the 11th Massachusetts was part of Hancock’s 2nd Corps occupying an ominous position that would come to be known as the "Bloody Angle." Captured on May 12, 1864, Stone would live to regret parting with his "lucky coat" as he somehow miraculously survived imprisonment in the hellish confines of Andersonville prison. Henry later recalled, "...I became a captive with others in what was General Hancock’s charge…the extreme right of the line. We were ordered on to the works, and some of us found ourselves in a trap with nothing to do but surrender or be shot down... We surrendered and six terrible months began for me right off. It was pretty hard on a man who saw home so near, but such is the luck of war."
Stone lost his hearing during his lengthy imprisonment and took to writing a diary – one of the most famous and well-renowned works of literature to come out of Andersonville — that now resides in the National Prisoner of War Museum at that National Historic Site. Henry escaped death at Andersonville thanks to a prisoner exchange on December 10, 1864 and mustered out of service on February 18, 1865.
Genuine examples of Civil War enlisted infantry uniforms are extraordinarily rare and this truly historic coat with impeccable provenance is quite frankly unprecedented. The jacket and plethora of related material was acquired directly from Henry Stone’s great-granddaughter by noted Civil War collector James Stamatelos in 1970 and the original letter conveying the coat is included. The coat passed from the Stamatelos Collection to a third party and then to our consignor.
Also included is an early carte of Henry Stone, two original manuscript letters to his mother dated 1861 and 1864, National Archives military and pension records, the Time-Life book featuring the jacket, plus 50 pages of associated documentation relating to Stone along with a complete transcript of his Andersonville diary highlighted by an old newspaper interview recounting his “Andersonville Memories.”
Not yet 24, Henry Stone returned to South Boston living there until the bugle played last call on March 11, 1892. Post-war, Henry became active in Charleston’s Dahlgren GAR Post #2, a participant in the upwardly mobile veteran’s movement and patriotic regimental reunions that shaped the last decades of the 19th century America. No surprise that Henry also served on the planning committee that ultimately dedicated the 11th Massachusetts monument on the Emmittsburg Road in Gettysburg — his scrap book is full of battle anecdotes.
According to his great-granddaughter, recounted at the time by James Stamatelos, Henry-the-veteran didn’t speak of his experiences in the "rebellion" very much. She did say that on every Memorial Day, Henry would once again wear his jacket to honor that which he and his comrades had done for their country — this "lucky" blue coat, tangible and permanently imbued with the sacrifice of a long ago generation.