Saturday, August 17, 2013

Connecticut in the Civil War

Connecticut in the Civil War

According to the 1860 U.S. census, Connecticut, a free state, had a population of 460,147.
During the Civil War more than 50,000 Connecticut men served in the Union Army and fought in numerous major battles and campaigns. The state furnished twenty-eight regiments of infantry (including two composed of black men). Two regiments of heavy artillery also served as infantry toward the end of the war. Connecticut also supplied three batteries of light artillery and one regiment of cavalry.
According to The Union Army, vol. 4, "[T]he total quotas of the state during the war amounted to 44,797, while she sent to the army a total of 54,349, and 1,515 paid commutation. She thus furnished a surplus of 11,067 men. As there were only 80,000 voters in the state at this period, she contributed nearly seven-tenths of her voting strength. These 54,000 men were distributed among twenty-eight regiments of infantry, two regiments and three batteries of artillery, and one regiment and one squadron of cavalry. As already noted, she also furnished one squadron of cavalry which was included, despite promises to the contrary, in the N.Y. Harris light cavalry and credited to that state. The above enumeration likewise fails to include over 2,000 men from Connecticut who enlisted in the U.S. Navy, as well as large numbers who served in the regular army and in the regiments of other states." During the Civil War, Connecticut suffered a total of 5,254 in killed and thousands more in wounded.
Prominent among military manufacturers with Connecticut ties was the New Haven Arms Company, which provided the Union Army with the Henry rifle, developed by New Haven's Benjamin Tyler Henry. Colt's Manufacturing Company, founded and owned by Hartford-born industrialist Samuel Colt, was another significant arms and munitions supplier. The company shipped large quantities of sidearms to the Union Navy. The Hartford-based firm of Pratt & Whitney provided machinery and support equipment to Army contractors to produce weapons. Most of the brass buttons used on Federal uniforms, belt buckles and other fittings, were made in Waterbury, the "Brass City", notably by the Chase Brass and Copper Company. The shipyards at Mystic provided ships for the Union Navy. The USS Monticello (1859), USS Galena (1862), USS Varuna (1861) were all built at Mystic.
Fort Trumbull in New London served as an organizational center for Union troops and headquarters for the U.S. 14th Infantry Regiment. Here, troops were recruited and trained before being sent to war. Among the regiments trained there was the 14th Connecticut Infantry, which played a prominent role in the Army of the Potomac's defense of Cemetery Ridge during the Battle of Gettysburg. The 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery (19th Connecticut Infantry) suffered significant casualties in the 1864 Overland Campaign and the Siege of Petersburg. Among the troops from the "Nutmeg State" that fought in the Trans-Mississippi Theater was the 9th Connecticut Infantry, which aided in the capture of New Orleans, Louisiana, as part of the "New England Brigade."

Notable figures from Connecticut included Glastonbury native Gideon Welles was a prominent member of the Lincoln Cabinet and perhaps its leading conservative. He was the Secretary of the Navy from 1861 to 1869 and was the architect of the planning and execution of the blockade of Southern ports. During his tenure, he increased the size of the United States Navy tenfold. The popular late war marching song Marching Through Georgia was written by Henry Clay Work, a Middletown resident.
Shortly after the war began, Col. Daniel Tyler of the 1st Connecticut was promoted to brigadier general. Later, other field officers in Connecticut regiments such as Alfred Terry, Henry Warner Birge (both born in Hartford), and Robert O. Tyler of the 4th Connecticut Infantry would be raised in rank to general. Some Connecticut-born men with antebellum U.S. Army service also became leading generals early in the war, including Ashford-born Nathaniel Lyon, one of the war's earliest army commanders to be killed when he was shot down at the Battle of Wilson's Creek in Missouri. Cornwall's John Sedgwick commanded the Union VI Corps for much of the war until killed at the Spotsylvania Court House. He was succeeded by Horatio G. Wright of Clinton, a long-time officer in the Regular Army.
Major General Joseph K. Mansfield of Middletown led the II Corps of the Union Army of the Potomac during the middle of 1862. He was killed in action at the Battle of Antietam during the 1862 Maryland Campaign. Another casualty of the fighting at Antietam was Brig. Gen. George Taylor, who had been educated at a private military academy in Middletown.
Joseph R. Hawley of New Haven commanded a division in the Army of the Potomac during the Siege of Petersburg and was promoted in September 1864 to brigadier general. Concerned over keeping the peace during the November elections, Hawley commanded a hand-picked brigade shipped to New York City to safeguard the election process. Other Union generals with Connecticut roots included Henry W. Benham of Meriden, Luther P. Bradley of New Haven, William T. Clark of Norwich, Orris S. Ferry of Bethel, and Alpheus S. Williams of Deep River. New Haven native Andrew Hull Foote received the Thanks of Congress for his distinguished actions in commanding the Mississippi River Squadron gunboat flotilla in the capture of Forts Henry and Donelson and Island No. 10. 
Casualties from Connecticut military units during the war included 97 officers and 1094 enlisted men killed in action, with another 700 men dying from wounds while more than 3,000 perished from disease, and thousands more returned to Connecticut wounded. 27 men were executed for crimes, including desertion. More than 400 men were reported as missing; the majority were likely held by the Confederate Army as prisoners of war. According to "The Union Army," the 14th infantry suffered the greatest loss, with 188 killed or mortally wounded and 552 wounded. The 5th and 18th infantry show the smallest losses, losing 63 and 48 men respectively. Continue to Connecticut Civil War History and Connecticut, The Union Army, and the Civil War (1861-1865).

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