2:00 pm

Hon. Hiller B. Zobel “Justice Holmes’ Civil War”

Barely 20-years old, fresh out of Harvard, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. accepted a commission as first lieutenant in the 20th Massachusetts Regiment. By mid-October, the regiment was fighting in the Battle of Ball’s Bluff, where Holmes sustained a potentially life-threatening chest wound. After recovery he served with the regiment until mid-1864, sustaining two more serious wounds and experiencing an exposure to war’s suffering and heroism, particularly that of his close friend. Lowell’s own Henry L. Abbott, that affected the rest of his long life. (Although Holmes never served under General Benjamin F. Butler, the controversial Democrat played a significant, if largely unrecognized role in Holmes’ appointment to the Supreme Judicial Court.)