Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

Wickham Park 1996 Event Report

Wickham Park
East Hartford, Connecticut
August 23-25, 1996
August 25th, 1863
Winchester, Virginia

Dear Friends,

I am once again fortunate to take pen in hand, and post you a few lines that I hope you might find acceptable. The boys of the Eighth, including myself, have been quite active in these parts recently. We have been alert and viligent to the similar actions of our enemy in these parts. This region is quite secesh, and therefor the rebel troops get their support.

We came to these parts after a short march down the Valley, arriving about the dusk of day on Friday. The overnight weather was not pleasant, with rain soaking our efforts to get comfortable and take some rest. The morning dawn did not help, and the rain continued to keep us under canvas where possible, but did cease about the middle of the day. From that point, activity became more normal for the army.

The Colonel in these parts placed several of our companies out on picket and skirmish lines in order to make sure that none of us were surprised by rebel motions towards us. And it did not take all that long before the pickets made the signal, rebel skirmishers came forward from the north, and pressed our positions along the brow of the hill. Our troops were deployed by Lt. Boucher, Capt. Kurtz serving on the Colonel's staff, in line of skirmish, and we went forward to try to hold them. Soon, the main bodies of troops from both sides arrived on the hill crest, and a pitched battle followed. It did not take long for the numbers of casualties mounted, and it became necessary for us to fall back, regroup, and move forward again. This we did, but never got the thing in a rolling motion, so we were thus repelled. We retreated, and the engagement was over.

Back in the camps, the boys were treated to a fine supper put together by the Captain's wife, Mrs. Tracy Kurtz. She had prepared squash, mince meat, and had all styles of pickles, and beets from jars. Such was a fine meal to win her our compliments. The evening was passed in the normal army fashion, some sleeping, some talking, some singing, but all praying for our friends, and for our nation.

The morning on Sunday dawned foggy at first, but soon cleared as the sun mounted to the sky. The breakfasts were had, and the roll was called. We soon went to drilling in the usual manner under the Sgts., and then worked more on our skirmish deployment for the desires for greater speed and coordination along the line. We were dismissed presently, and returned for some early dinners, since we were to have a challenge at noon.

The challenge was between our Captain Kurtz, and one of his close friends from before the war, the Capt. of the 1st Maryland, yes a Rebel. It appears that during a tour of the pickets, a conversation was had by the two parties, suggesting that the battle did not decide, but perhaps a little game of Townball between the ranks just might do to answer the question of honor. So at noon, the two sides were marched to the agreed upon field, all blouses were removed, and the game begun. And my what fun we all had, very tense and competitive, but yes, we all had fun. I can say so, because it was us who were victorious, a score of 16-8. After the game, we all shook hands, donned our trucks, and rejoined the respective armies. The officers were satisfied that honor was done.

Shortly, the Colonel once again deployed a good number of pickets in his work, and so it was us in the Eighth that was just under the brow of the hill once again. And even sooner, directly opposite of us appeared, yes our 1st Maryland acquaintances. Now, normally, it is an unspoken agreement between the boys on picket not to exchange shots, since that makes it hard work for both sides. So we laid about 50 yards apart, and began to converse. We spoke of their ball playing, their cheating, and other aspects of the game, to which they replied in kind. Then, the talk became of barter matters, coffee for tobacco, and newspapers for sugar, and so there were a few meetings and trades between the lines. We all struck up with "Rally 'Round the Flag" and that started the thing down hill. We asked for how many they were, and who was in command, and what corps, and they stopped answering.

It was likely it was because the Rebel host was moving forward about that time, and it was not a good thing to be shouting that information across the lines as the commanders and officers were approaching the front. And, yes the next rebel answers were singing bees of lead, and of shot. They massed to our front, and opened on us. It was not till then that the alarm for our troops was sent back, but on the plain below us we could see the boys ceoming, but not fast enugh. We were told to hold our positions, which we did, but were mauled in the task. By the time our lines were close enough, there were few that could get off the skirmish line and take cover behind them. The rebels also had a field howitzer which took a good deal of boys, and kept our lines from pressing too far or fast. At a lull in the action, the commands called a parley under a flag of truce, and it was agreed to a short time for the removal of the many wounded. This was accomplished, and the battle resumed. It had much the same result as the day before, with us not able to push forward, but the rebels not able to flank of overwhelm our position. And so it was that we disengaged, marched slowly back to our camps, and prepared to take up a line of march not yet disclosed to us by the officers.

This part of Virginia is much used up due to this war, and there is little to forage for, and littler kindness from the natives. I suspect that I might feel the same for being them, with a new set of dirty soldiers running the town every so often. We here are well, sort of hungary, and the wounded are not getting the best of care. For the rest, we have not lost our faith, and continue to fight for our cause, The Union Forever!, may God bring the right to see this war end in an honorable peace.

Your obedient servant,

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