Category Archives: Civil War

Remembering the Civil War in Connecticut

The Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch in Hartford’s Bushnell Park commemorates the service of the more than 4,000 Hartford men who served in the Union Arrmy during the Civil War, or as an inscription on the towering monument describes it “The National Cause”.  Nearly ten percent of those who served died in the conflict.

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The Civil War was fought far from Connecticut, but this state played a critical role on the front lines and on the home front to defeat forces of the southern Confederacy.

More than 55,000 Connecticut men served in the Union Army, 47 percent of the state’s male population between 15 and 50, the historian Matthew Warshauer has written. A significant number, ten percent, were killed and many more wounded, some horribly. Connecticut women were active in caring for the many who were wounded and engaging in other war-related tasks. Those included attending funerals for those were killed in battle, or died afterwards of their wounds. The state’s manufacturers provided a significant amount of arms and munitions, ships for the navy and everything from brass buttons and the military uniforms on which they were attached.

Professor Warshauer reminds us in an article that the state has a complicated history when it came to the slave trade and its efforts to grant its black residents a measure of equality. But, it is clear, Connecticut was committed to preserving the union.

Today, reminders of that commitment  are located throughout the state, with more than 130 memorials, including the prominent Soldier’s & Sailors Arch in Hartford and the more modest Kensington Monument in Berlin, which is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places as the country’s oldest, permanent Civil War monument.

The New England Civil War Museum in Rockville provides an interesting look at the war and those who fought in it and worth a visit.

The Lebanon Historical Society museum has an excellent Civil War exhibit that remains there until September, 2015, and the Connecticut State Library is a repository of Civil War-related information, including the names of those who served in Connecticut units.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Civil War was fought far from Connecticut, but this state played a critical role on the front lines and on the home front to defeat forces of the southern Confederacy.

More than 55,000 Connecticut men served in the Union Army, 47 percent of the state’s male population between 15 and 50, the historian Matthew Warshauer has written, with ten percent killed and many more wounded. Connecticut women were active in caring for the many who were wounded and engaging in other war-related tasks. Those included attending funerals for those were killed in battle, or died afterwards of their wounds. The state’s manufacturers provided a significant amount of arms and munitions, ships for the navy and everything from brass buttons and the military uniforms on which they were attached.

Professor Warshauer reminds us in an article for Connecticuthistory.org, the state had a complicated history when it came to the slave trade and its efforts to grant its black residents a measure of equality. But, it is clear, Connecticut was committed to preserving the union

http://connecticuthistory.org/connecticut-and-the-civil-war/

 

Today, reminders of that turbulent time in our nation’s history are scattered throughout the state, with more than 130 memorials, including the prominent Bushnell Arch in Hartford and the more modest Kensington Monument in Berlin, which is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places as the country’s oldest, permanent Civil War monument.

The New England Civil War Museum in Rockville provides an interesting look at the war and those who fought in it and worth a visit.

 

The Lebanon Historical Society museum has an excellent Civil War exhibit that remains there until September, 2015, and the Connecticut State Library is a repository of Civil War-related information, including the names of those who served in Connecticut units.

 

http://www.historyoflebanon.org/index.htm

 

http://www.newenglandcivilwarmuseum.com/visitingus.htm

 

http://www.ctstatelibrary.org/subjectguides/pages/civil-war/2151/0/page

 

 

Fort Trumbull State Park Has a Towering Presence on the Landscape and a Historic Past Whose Story is Told Here

Fort Trumbull with peopleFort Trumbull

Fort Trumbull State Park, located on sixteen acres at the entrance to New London harbor, is as unique as it is historic.  The site is dominated by a large 19th century  coastal defense fort, but that is only one aspect of the nearly 200 years worth of history that took place here.

That look back in time is offered in a lively and informative way on two floors of exhibits at the Visitors Center.  Touch screen interactive displays, theaters, dioramas, along with wall-mounted information panels combine to bring the past nicely into the present.

The story begins when the native people who lived in southeastern Connecticut called it Mamacock.

It continues through both wars to free the American colonies from the mother country, and the Civil War that nearly destroyed the young nation.  In varying degrees, Fort Trumbull played a role in each of those historic events

The colorfully illustrated displays about the War of 1812, explore the causes and actions of that largely forgotten struggle that took place 29 years after the United States and Great Britain signed a peace treaty.

In the Revolutionary War British troops landed nearby, engaged the out manned American defenders before marching inland to burn New London, a city made prosperous by a robust maritime economy. That is an important part of the story that is told here.

 Both world wars in the 20th century are explored here as well. 

Museum designers have done a commendable effort to place the Fort Trumbull story in the context of the times.

The role scientists and engineers played here in developing the sophisticated weapons needed in anti-submarine warfare is offered to visitors.  It starts with the Navy’s Experimental Research Station in 1917-1919 and progresses through the Cold War, 1949-1990, and the work done at the Underwater Sound Laboratory.

Also part of the presentations is the role Fort Trumbull played in training officers for the Revenue Cutter Service and its successor agency, the Coast Guard which maintained its academy here until 1932 when it relocated to its present site about a mile upriver.

In World War II the Merchant Marine Officers Training School was located here. The critical role play by those who sailed unarmed ships that took supplies to the war fronts is recounted in exhibit form in the Visitors Center.

Soldiers, sailors and scientists can all lay claim to a piece of the history that was made here.

Mark Twain even plays a part in the Fort Trumbull story. There’s a narrated excerpt of his short story, A Curious Experience, set at the fort during the Civil War when it served as a recruiting center for Union forces.

The fort is open for self-guided tours aided by interpretive signs and nearby is a memorial to the heroic officers of the merchant marine who died in World War II after being trained here.

History buffs can find much to like here, but it is worth a visit from those who just enjoy walks along the water and the spectacular views from atop the fort.

As it says inside the Visitors Center, Fort Trumbull State Park is a place of innovation, a place of wind, water and memories.

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Fort Trumbull State Park   http://www.ct.gov/deep/forttrumbull

50 Walbach Street

New London, CT 06320

Highway access:   I-95 Ex. 83N/84S

Phone:  860-444-7591

 Visitor’s Center and tours:  adults $6; children (6-12), $2; 5 and under, no charge.  Grounds: free.rounds opened all year, daily 8 a.m.- sunset.  Fort and Visitors Center: Memorial Day-Columbus Day, Wed. – Sunday, 9 a.m. 5 p.m.

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First Union General Killed in Civil War was Connecticut Native

 

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When General Nathaniel Lyon came home to Connecticut for the last time in September 1861, thousands of mourners filled the countryside to observe when the body of the first Union Army General to be killed in the Civil War was laid to rest in the family plot in Eastford.

 The governors of Connecticut and Rhode Island were there, along with the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, and other dignitaries of the day.

 Lyon was shot from his horse and killed while rallying his troops against a much larger Confederate force in the Battle of Wilson Creek. The battle is little known today, but his efforts were credited with keeping Missouri from joining the confederacy.

 His aggressive stance on behalf of the Union made Lyon a national hero. En route home, the casket was greeted by large numbers of mourners. In New York City alone, where his body lay in state, more than 15,000 were said to have paid their last respects.

 The burial ground in the small town in northeastern Connecticut is located on a terraced  hillside that runs up from the street and below it, the Natchaug River. The site features a marble monument that contains a carved figure of Gen. Lyon, in full-dress uniform, astride a horse.  Three Civil War cannon were placed at the site, but only one remains upright. The two at each corner have long-since pitched into the soft earth.

 The marble that made it easier for the stone carver to work, also has contributed to its deterioration. It has been badly beaten down by time, but retains a majestic presence that calls up past glory.

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General Lyon Cemetery

35 General Lyon Road, off SR 198

Phoenixville section of Eastford, CT

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Look and Learn About the Civil War

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The New England Civil War Museum in Rockville has a long history of keeping alive the memory of those who fought and died in the war between the states, 1861-65. It offers a fascinating glimpse into that trying time in our nation’s history.

The museum traces its lineage back to Civil War veterans and proclaims that it is the only such institution in the six-state region that was founded by Civil War veterans.  The past echoes through the building where Civil War veterans once gathered in friendship and peace.

Housed in the former Grand Army of the Republic hall inside the town Memorial Building, its collection includes relics, prints, paintings, lithographs, photos, and papers. The original GAR collection has been augmented by hundreds of new items related to both Connecticut Civil War soldiers and the GAR in Connecticut.

The Museum’s O’Connell-Chapman Library has more than 1000 volumes of Civil War literature, in addition to original copies of the 128 volumes of The War of the Rebellion: a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies. 

In addition to the original Civil War map books, there are photographs of local Civil War veterans, both in the museum and on line.

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New England Civil War Museum
www.NewEnglandCivilWarMusem.org
860-870-3563
Open 2nd & 4th Sunday of each month, or by special appointment (made six weeks in advance)

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A Virtual Visit to New London’s Stone Fleet

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There’s been a lot of water traffic on the historic Thames River. It began with dugout canoes used by native peoples who lived on the river banks when the Europeans made their presence known in the 1600s.

The traffic continues to this day with the most sophisticated undersea craft of the nuclear navy and whole fleets of recreational craft. 

In between, there was all manner of merchant vessels making their way to and from the port of New London. None was more unusual than the Stone Fleet that set “sail” in 1861 bound for Civil War duty in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina.

Never heard of the Stone Fleet that left New London to join other ships, mostly former whalers, from New Bedford and Boston? The University of South Carolina can take care of that for you.  

The Fleet is long gone, but New London’s historic harbor is well worth a visit.

Prudence Crandall Museum focuses on the struggle for racial equality

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It is has been said that appearances can be deceiving and that is true of the large Federal-style building at the junction of routes 14 and 169 in rural Canterbury. Some 180 years ago for a brief burning moment it was a focus of the growing national abolition movement. A center of opportunity and of danger.

It was here that Prudence Crandall, a young Quaker woman from Rhode Island, in 1833 opened her school for Young Ladies and Little Misses of Color, said to be the first integrated school  New England.  The story of Prudence Crandall is also the story of the young African American Sarah Harris whose desire to learn so she, in turn, could become a teacher, led to the founding of the school that would eventually attract students from as far away as Philadelphia.

Both women braved the conventions of the day and the very real threat of injury or death.

Long after Prudence Crandall fled the state because the constant harassment and vandalism led to arson and a fear for the safety of her young students, a more enlightened Connecticut recognized her and her noble experiment for what it was.

Today, she is revered by the state, which has named her its official female hero, and operates her former school as a museum.

The story of this shameful episode in Connecticut history is told simply and powerfully in a way that reminds visitors that what we take for granted today was anything but that in early Connecticut.

You can visit her home/school in season, but before that take a look at her story as told by the  Friends of Prudence Crandall.