Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

Fairfield 1996 Event Report

Fairfield, Pennsylvania
July 5-7, 1996
July 2nd, 1863
Gettysburg, Penna.

Dear Friends,

The world is watching as our two large armies collide head on at this location. The invading enemy has chosen to fight us here. A grand Spectacle is now raging here. We are in the midst of a tornado of death. I will take some time to tell you the particulars as they have developed for us here.

We began straggling in to this area from the long marching Thursday night and Friday during the day hours. By supper most of our boys were up, and our camps established. We had barely time to eat when we were ordered to form, the USV here in the strength of two full battalions. Around dusk, we moved out in force, and occupied and improved some breastworks along the lower ridges of Culp's Hill, stacked arms, and waited for the enemy approach which came quite soon enough, announced by the scream of shells overhead. And they came on foot in long lines three deep, and we fought with hot muskets, when we were obliged to retire further up the hill to a second line of breastworks, which we determined to keep at all costs. Which we did and as the night fell darker, the sound of fire grew less frequent, the rebels skulked out in the darkness, keeping the line of trenches they earned, but no more. Some troops bivoacked there to keep the lines, the rest returned to camp to get some rest needed for the work ahead. The evening was spent in the normal manner, collapse and sleep, and then snoring hoards.

The morning came at dawn, and men were about scrounging for firewood, to get a boiler of coffee. Bacon sizzled, and breads were eaten. A morning parade was executed, and a battalion drill followed company drill for some time before the boys were allowed to rest and prepare for the imminent results of close proximity between rivals. We ate our lunch under a spreading locust tree near a stream bank, keeping to the shade for its value in comfort. After the hottest part of the afternoon, the orders came to form and move again. It seems that the main line in the center of the army had bowed forward, and contacted the enemy.

We were positioned in line in a meadow next to a wheat field, and were soon being fired over from both sets of guns. The rebels attacked wave on wave, and we were obliged again to give ground under the pressure, but this time it was accomplished in good order. Our company, under command of Capt. Devon Kurtz, is a comglomerate of the 8CV, 6NH, 4OV, 7OV, 40 NY, 79 NY, and 2 Michigan, and numbers about 36 privates. We are the Third Company of the First Battalion of the USV. We fell back about a quarter mile, while other lines went forward. We fought and sweat. We eventually found that we were in line with our batteries, and decided to rest there, water down, and draw ammunition.

Over the hills, one could see the many distinct motions of troops in a deadly dance of guns, muskets, and shell. The 27th Conn. was seen advancing in force into a wheat field to the left of our position. There they drew the attentions of many rebels as the lines wheeled and twirled and men dropped rapidly. The sound of the battle was deafening with little pause. After our rest, we were sent back in, or rather lead in by our Capt. Kurtz. On the right flank, 3 companies of rebels were closing on our guns, and our position. So we charged them with our remaining strength and numbers, but only were successful in delaying them with deadly results. It took more of our lines to close the risk off, and the casualties on that account were near total for both blue and gray. As the sun settled, the action subsided, but did not stop, as the positions were detemined to be maintained. Some firing continued as each side told the other that more contest would come. We retired back to camp, prepared some food on small fires in the dark, and nearly all collapsed into fitful sleep.

The morning dawned hot, and soon the ways of war intruded on us again. We got some coffee and bacon, and even corned beef canned. The USV First and Second Battalion were ordered out for a fine dress parade and review in honor of our own Gen. Dana Heim, such was a brigade parade of a total of over 650 some odd soldiers under his command in crisp lines, under a fine sun, colors snapping in the breeze. We passed in review, in column of companies, and finished with a wheel into line that fit like a planed door. All were proud of our USV. The parade was dismissed, and all returned to camp looking for shade. We again took our noon meal in the shade of the trees by the stream, then held a light drill of the company in shirt sleeves for the benefit of the corporal's instruction.

Strange activity occurred in our camp this Sunday morning which started off by the attempted arrest of our Capt. Kurtz by staff orders. It seems that the charges were for being out of uniform, and such was true, for the Capt. was in camp in his wedding best suit. He was in the company of several women from back in Connecticut. The Sergeant of the Guard sought the Capt., but the ladies protected him. Finally, Lt.Col. Lally appeared, and demanded to know why his orders were not caarried out. The Capt. insisted that he was an officer commissioned by Gov. Buckingahm of Connecticut, and he had resigned, and was not obligated to follow any further orders of the Lt.Col.

But Lt.Col. Lally pointed up that he was the commanding officer, and that he had neither received nor accepted any resignation. The ladies pleaded, and the agreement was to put the Capt. on the train by the end of the day, and that he was to report to Ft. Levenworth, Kansas, on his honor. At some point in the discussions, the talk of US Regulars and the Lt.Col. versus the Volunteers and our Captain came up, and it lead to some insults and challenges. The Capt. had challenged the Col. at noon, and the duel was set. But there was still some time for the Capt. and the ladies to hold a Women's Rights rally around the camp. Of course, they were not accorded common courtesies from the soldiers, and the Irish troops especially shouted at the ladies. Soon, our Capt. and a drunk Irish sergeant were at the fisticuffs, but when one of the ladies clobbered him over the head with her parasole, he went down like a ton of bricks. Capt. Aversano arrived on the scene, and put an end to it all, by ordering all the soldiers back to their companies. Almost as soon as that happened, it was time for the duel. The two contestants showed up with their seconds, and paced off. The Col. fired at the Capt. and missed, and then the Capt. fired at the ground purposefully, and at that the Lt.Col.'s second, the same sergeant of the guard, fired at the Capt, and struck him down. As he lay on the ground he pleaded for help, and some Connecticut men came forward, and bore his body to his quarters, where he was attended to by the surgeon, and is pronounced to have a good recovery.

The drums sounded the long roll as the noon day sun passed the zenith. The heat was oppressive, and the battalions were formed, weapons inspected, and men move out to take positions on the left flank of the army on a hill called Little Round Top. Our battalion was placed on the far right of that position, and we were deployed in line of battle, grounded arms, and sat back in the sun to rest til the time came for action. We all had dreams of ice in our caps, and the visions felt good. Across the valley, we could see battalion after battalion of rebels marching by the right flank streaming from their lairs and marching towards our positions. Their guns down there opened on us as the infantry dressed their lines. Our left flank took the wave of the first uphill attacks, and we drove them back on their heels. Our lines were now doubled with reserves in line behind us. Again, the rebels pushed up the hill, and attacked us closer this time. The carnage was severe, but they were determined. They fell back and advanceed yet again. They closed to an extremely close position, and took heavy tolls on our boys, but almost were killed to a man themselves. The dead and wounded were piling up with no plan, or respect to the side, and many conversations between combatants started up in that bloody grass. The whole line to the left was hidden by the turn of the hill, but the sounds were about the same over there, starting with battalion fire, volley by volley, turning to more desperate and louder independent fire, and the roar grew to be deafening. On our end of the line, I looked to the left, and saw our battalion's colors drop and be picked up again three times in a minute. I am sure that it was happening all over the field. The rebels to our front kept protecting their colors in the rear ranks of the color guard as they advanced up the hill, and given the slaughter rate, it was a smart thing to do if they wanted a flag to rally on for the next time. Eventually, the energy of the rebels passed, and we had not moved from our strong positions. They melted away from our front in long lines, reformed in the valley, then marched away. And so we too reformed our ranks, passed in review, and marched back to our camp where the battalion heard the comments and compliments of Gen. Heim, and then cheered him thrice, and then the same for Captain Kurtz, and all our conglomeration in the ranks. And we moved slowly to get all our truck together once more, laden our backs and shoulders down, and begin the long march to the next encounter.

We are all now sure that we have seen history made with this great victory for our arms, and pray to our God that we can continue in the right to Preserve our Union, and end this war with an honorable peace. It is most surely over now. The enemy is crushed and cannot fight again. We are in good health despite our exertions, and will do what we are here for til the end, even if this war is too hard for some, it is what will be, and forever more Liberty & Union!

Your obedient servant,

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