Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
Special Correspondent's 1997 Report
Hammonassett State Park
May 2-4, 1997
November 29th, 1864.
From the Journal of the correspondent, Joseph Cloutier,
Manchester Daily American.
Continuing my travels with the 54th Massachusetts, I was privileged to observe a General, Brigadier General John P. Hatch, who is trying to become a modern day Pyrrhus. After watching today's events, I was at a loss for an explanation. I had to ask the Italian observer, an officer by the name of Rafenello, for advice for my report back to New Hampshire. I couldn't remember the exact spellings of incompetence and fiasco.
Is it any wonder that the Copperhead movement is growing in this country of ours? Not that I'm for such a movement, because nobody supports this war more than I. Slavery is an abomination, this great experiment of a democratic country must endure, and those popinjays of the South, those bloody sesesh must be mightily punished for all the deaths they are responsible for. But how can the government expect the people to continue supporting this war if gentlemen such as Hatch are allowed to waste fine Northern soldiers like this. I ate lunch with the 1st company of the 8th Connecticut (called A company I do believe), and a mighty fine piece of cooking it was. And now, many of the those brave men are dead. Who will speak the names of Will, or Chris or Dan every again? Certainly not their wives or children or sweethearts. As long as generalship like what was seen today is allowed to massacre the flower of the north, as long as President Lincoln sells the leadership of this fine army for political favors, and as long as such stupidity, nay such perfidy is allowed to go unnoticed and unchecked, the support for this war will dribble away and the support for the Copperheads will grow by leaps and bounds. But if soldiers, real soldiers, not like General Hatch or General Butler, but good honest fighting men such as Generals Sherman or George Thomas, and even U.S. Grant, are allowed to fight unencumbered by the political machinations of the congress, the rebellious South will be crushed. Generals Sherman and Thomas are driving deep into the South, crushing all that attempt to stand in their way. General Grant has latched onto the Army of Northern Virginia, and will not relent until the only soldier Bobby Lee has left is Bobby Lee himself. Once that Army has been ground into dust, then will this long, costly and oh so very bloody war be over.
On a different note, I am quite happy to say that the colored regiments fought admirably. They stood their ground as well as a white regiment and they died as well as a white regiment. I am a firm believer that people who want to be free must be willing to die for that freedom, and I am happy to say that the colored folk do have such a thirst for their freedom that they are indeed willing to die for it. Some doubters will say it was not the colored troops, but rather the outstanding white officership. This flies in the face of military tradition. It has been a known fact since the Roman age that the backbone of the Army is its Noncommissioned Officers, and our proud Army is no different. All the Noncommissioned Officers of the colored regiments are colored themselves, taken from the ranks as a reward for outstanding service, proper soldier skills and dynamic leadership. These soldiers are a prime reason for the success of the colored regiments. It has also been noted that while an outstanding officer can raise well disciplined and motivated men to greatness, that same officer can only lift drunkards, thieves and malingerers to mere adequacy. From what I have seen today, we have outstanding officers leading the finest soldiers onto greatness, glory and the history books.
In the final note, to take a step back from the toils of war for a moment, I do need to say a few more words about a wonderful cook in the 8th Connecticut. This gentleman who I will name Hal (I will leave out his true name for reasons soon to be apparent) is only a common rifleman of the line. But the dishes he can create are simply marvelous, rivaling food I ate in Paris. His cooking methods would shock many of the chefs of Europe into unconsciousness, but the results are feasts fit for royalty. From humble beginnings, such as saltpork, hardtack and whatever vegetables were scrounged, a stew was created that defies description. The men asked their company commander for comment, but he was struck speechless except for the lone word of "wow". Enough of this divine creation was made for several meals, and for two days it was all I subsisted on. It was manna from heaven.
The reason that I am keeping the actual soldiers name hidden is that I am thinking of going into business after the war. I, during the course of the war, have met several well to do gentlemen, who I am positive I can talk into financing a restaurant. I intend to elevate this humble private into one of New England's finest chefs. With him cooking for me my fortune will be made in no time.
Well, light's out has been sounded, so I must stop writing now. I just hope that Hal, me and everyone else I have met in my travels will survive through the end of this hellish matter.
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Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.