Captain 2d Mass. Vols. (Infantry), May 24, 1861; Brevet Major, August 9, 1862; killed at Cedar Mountain, Va., August 9, 1862.
Edward Gardner Abbott, eldest son of Hon. Josiah Gardner and Caroline (Livermore) Abbott, was born at Lowell, Massachusetts, on the 29th of September, 1840, and was the eighth in descent from George Abbott, who, forced by religious scruples and the troubles of the times, emigrated from Yorkshire, England, in 1643, and settled in Andover, Massachusetts. Edward's mother was the daughter of Edmund St. Loe Livermore, Judge of the Supreme Court of New Hampshire. Judge Livermore was several times a member of Congress from Massachusetts, and was the son of Hon. Samuel Livermore, King's Attorney in New Hampshire before the Revolution, and afterwards first United States Senator from that State. As a boy Edward was active, sprightly, and high-spirited, of quick intellect, full of playfulness and life, and early manifested a more than usual fondness for all muscular sports and exercises. ‘His activity,’ says one who knew him from infancy to manhood, ‘suggested the idea of perpetual motion, and was the occasion to him of frequent bruises and broken limbs.’ With this exuberant vivacity and this passion for muscular superiority, there was united a great love of reading, especially works of imaginative literature and biography, which was fostered and gratified by the large miscellaneous library of his father. Before he was ten years old he had read through all the novels of Sir Walter Scott, besides the standard juvenile romances. He was fitted for college at the Lowell High School, and the principal, C. C. Chase, Esq., thus writes concerning him:— 
He left his mark upon my mind. He was a boy of great independence of character, of generous and honorable impulses, and of a high and chivalrous sense of honor. He was naturally impulsive, and fonder of being a leader than of being led, yet he possessed so much native manliness and so nice a sense of what it is to be a true gentleman, that his name holds an enviable place upon the records of our school. He was a diligent as well as a very ambitious scholar. He entered Harvard College without condition in 1856.One of Abbott's schoolmates, J. Davis, Esq., writes:—
As a boy he was always gentlemanly, and I do not recollect a mean act ever attributed to him by his schoolmates. While fitting for college he was very ambitious to stand well in his class. . . . I remember an incident illustrating his fortitude under physical suffering. We had in our school-house yard a tree with a limb broken off near its body, on which we used to swing by the arms and take flying leaps. Abbott soon excelled in this. One day he unluckily fell and broke his arm. It seemed but a day or two before he was back again at school, looking a little pale and with his arm in a sling, yet cheerful as ever, and in a day or two more, with his arm still in the sling, he was back upon the old limb again, showing what could be done with one hand. The arm was afterwards fractured a second time, yet not in the same manner.Besides these two instances, he broke his arm again, making three fractures within the same six months. These childish mishaps developed a contempt for danger, and a personal courage which amounted almost to rashness. This was well illustrated by an accident which occurred just before he was fifteen years of age. His parents had gone to the sea-shore for a few days, leaving Edward, his sister, and one of his younger brothers in charge of the house. It being warm summer weather, Edward slept on a lounge in one of the upper rooms, and carried up with him every night in a small basket the silver-ware in daily use. This basket he placed on the floor by the side of the lounge. A burglar, aware probably of the absence of Edward's parents, entered the lower part of the house through a window which he managed to raise. After ransacking various other rooms, he entered the one where Edward was sleeping, and took  the basket of plate and also Edward's watch, which was suspended from a chair. With these he went into the lower part of the house again. In his movements the thief dislodged some small article from the place where it rested, and the slight noise caused by its falling upon the floor was sufficient to wake Edward. He immediately missed the basket of plate; and, getting up, proceeded, without putting on any clothing, down stairs, where he found the robber engaged, by the light of a small lamp, in examining the pockets of some clothes which he had brought together from various closets for this purpose. The burglar saw the boy at the same instant, and, seizing the basket of plate, jumped through the window, which he had left open to facilitate his escape. Without a moment's hesitation, Edward sprang after him, and seizing him before he had gone more than a few steps from the house, a fierce struggle ensued. The boy was unusually strong and active for his age, and unencumbered by clothing, and clung to the man with resolute determination, shouting all the while for help. The latter was more anxious to flee than to engage in a contest with the boy, and finally managed to break away from him and escape, but without taking with him any of his plunder, which in the struggle was scattered all over the lawn. In college Abbott took a very active interest in boating, and in his Junior year became a member of the University crew. In this and the following year he rowed in seven different races, being victorious in all but one. The training to which the crew subjected themselves during both of these seasons was very severe. The abstinence from wine, spirits, tobacco, soda-water, tea, coffee, and almost from water itself, the Spartan diet, the return to childhood's bedtime, the long walks, the two-mile runs for ‘improvement of the wind,’ the daily pull of six miles on the Charles, under the merciless criticism of the bow oar (Harvard racing crews carry no cockswain), are trials and tortures for the impatient spirits of youth from which most students shrink, especially in the midsummer of the Senior year, when the pleasures of Class  Day and the festivities accompanying the close of the college course hold out such strong temptations for self-indulgence. No one underwent this severe training with more cheerfulness or pursued it more rigidly than Abbott. There was no fear that he would surreptitiously indulge in anything forbidden by the rules regulating diet and regimen. The only thing to be apprehended in his case was that he would overdo and ‘train’ too much. He never spared himself, but threw his whole soul into the work. His example did much to infuse the same spirit into the others, and contributed in no small degree to their victories. A majority of the University crew, in both these years, were subsequently in the Union army, and to Henry W. Camp and Edward Abbott, who occupied corresponding positions in the Yale and Harvard boats in the College Regatta in 1859, was reserved the glory of dying for their country. Notwithstanding his devotion to boating and muscular exercise, Abbott was a diligent student and held a good rank as a scholar, standing one year in the first quarter of his Class. His early love of reading he still retained, and few had so good a knowledge of general literature. He was fond of argument and extremely tenacious of his opinions. In fact, one of the most striking traits of his character, and one concerning which it is almost impossible to speak too strongly, was the persistency with which he adhered to every opinion or undertaking which he had embrace or begun. Immediately after graduation he began the study of law in the office of Samuel A. Brown, Esq. Some idea of the energy and ardor with which he entered on the new pursuit may be gathered from the following extract of a letter from Mr. Brown:—
Edward entered my office in Lowell as a student at law in the month of August, 1860. He was then about twenty years of age. I had known him from infancy, but had never seen enough of him to enable me to form a very decided opinion of his abilities. While he was in my office he devoted himself with the greatest industry to  the task of mastering what he intended should be his future profession. He secluded himself very much from society, and applied himself to hard and laborious study. From my present recollection, he was in the office from ten to twelve hours a day on an average. He was determined to excel in his profession; and the assiduity with which he devoted himself to his books was sure evidence that he would have succeeded. No medium or average position at the bar would have satisfied him. He had fixed his eye on the topmost round of the ladder of professional eminence, and was determined to reach it. He was self-reliant, had industry, perseverance, energy, and patience. He knew no such word as fail in anything he undertook. His judgment was very mature for a youth of twenty years in age. His mind seemed to be peculiarly adapted to unravelling intricate questions of law, and applying principles to cases. I considered him a very good lawyer when he had been in my office six months.But from these quiet pursuits he was aroused by the call to arms. Even before graduation he had expressed to a classmate and intimate friend from Mississippi, who subsequently became a captain in the Confederate service, his intention, in case hostilities should ever break out between North and South, to take part in the struggle. When, therefore, the Rebellion was formally begun, this resolve was put into immediate execution. He was not actuated in so doing by any distinctively antislavery feeling or sentiment. His father was a prominent member of that wing of the Democratic party which had supported Mr. Douglas for the Presidency in 1860; and Edward, though not old enough to vote, entertained the same political convictions, and had taken a warm interest in the Presidential campaign. Throwing aside, however, all partisan feeling, he applied himself with such energy to recruiting a company, that before the end of April he had obtained the requisite number of men. This company, called, after his father, who contributed largely to its equipment, the Abbott Grays, was composed of excellent material. It is worth mentioning, that, at one of their preliminary meetings, a stranger came in slightly intoxicated, and began to be very noisy and create quite a disturbance. Abbott ordered him to be put  out; but the man being of rough and powerful aspect, the others hung back and hesitated a little. Abbott immediately left the platform where he was presiding, came down to the offender, and summarily ejected him. The confidence of his men was gained at once. They saw that their leader would ask them to do nothing that he did not dare do himself. This company was mustered into service for three years, and assigned to the Second Massachusetts Volunteers (Infantry). They went into camp at Brook Farm, West Roxbury, on May 11th, eight days after the President's first call for three years volunteers. This company being the first to arrive, Captain Abbott took command of the camp. A brother officer writes, that ‘at that early day Abbott had his compare completely in hand. He was accurate and precise in all his orders and in the details of his duties. His company then was clean, neat, orderly, and soldierly in appearance.’ The next company that arrived, coming, perhaps, from too indulgent friends at home, were disposed to chafe at the rigorous camp restrictions which they found already established. The new-comers had also some disturbances among themselves, and the two matters combined caused much disorder and confusion on the first night. Most commanders, with no more experience than Abbott, would have temporized, separated the two companies for that night, and remedied the matter next day by orders. But Captain Abbott did not hesitate an instant. He strengthened his guard and gave still stricter orders to the sentinels. He put some of the more turbulent offenders under arrest; and, not content with the representations of the captain of the company that the men had no small arms about them, caused a thorough inspection to be made, that he might satisfy himself that such was the case. The officer from whom the foregoing account was derived says, ‘This, my first and still lasting impression of him was, that he was a firm, unflinching, thorough, exact, and persistent man, without a particle of compromise in his nature, when he was satisfied that he was right.’  Concerning the strictness of his discipline the same officer says:—
He tolerated no departure, not even of a hair's breadth, from his exact and literal orders, on the part of those under him. He expected the same treatment from his superiors, and he always obeyed in that spirit. He was just as rigid to himself in all the duties he owed to his command, as he compelled his command to be in all their duties to him, and that was to the very extent of both spirit and letter. I can say with absolute certainty, that, during my constant connection with him for fifteen months, he never neglected one military duty or act that he owed to his company that was possible to be performed; and, on the other hand, I do not think that any member of his company ever neglected a military duty without being punished for it.