Friday, August 19, 1864
Oliver Stanton Bates of Company A of the 20th Massachusetts Regiment died today at Slough Barracks Military Hospital in Alexandria, Virginia. He was severely wounded while serving on picket duty along the Jerusalem Plank Road in Petersburg on June 24 and his leg required immediate amputation on the battlefield. After a two-month struggle at Slough Hospital he succumbed to his wounds. 1
His body was embalmed for transport to his home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He is buried in the Bates Family Plot at Pittsfield Cemetery.
Before the Civil War Oliver was a harness maker in Pittsfield. He was a man of modest means. At the time of Oliver's death embalming was an expensive procedure, and his family did not have the money to pay for preparing his body for the journey home. I have read about the kindness extended by officers of the 20th Massachusetts Regiment to their fallen enlisted men, and I am certain that one or more of the officers extended this kindness to Oliver and his family by paying for the burial ritual so his body could be sent home. Oliver was one of the few veteran volunteers still alive in his regiment at the time of his death. I am deeply grateful to the officers and enlisted men of the 20th Massachusetts for their generosity to Oliver and his family. 2
1Compiled service record, Oliver S. Bates, Pvt., Co. A, 20th Massachusetts Infantry; Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations, Civil War; Records of the Adjutant General's Office, 1780s-1917, Record Group 94; National Archives, Washington, D.C.
2Richard F. Miller, Harvard's Civil War: A History of the Twentieth Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry (Lebanon, New Hampshire: University Press of New England, 2005), 280-81, 315-17.