Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
Sturbridge Time Line Event Report
August 7-8, 2004
"From Redcoats to Rebels"
Old Sturbridge Villge Museum
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Several of the Old Eighth drew a duty that put them on detached duty from the seat of war. We were detailed back to New England, and were to rally the recruitment and enlistment of the bombproofs and stay-at-homes remaining in the little town of Sturbridge. Upon arriving the via the cars, we found a quaint old mill town, and were directed to our camps just behind the sawmill on the banks of the Quinebaug River. The setting was sublime, our tents against a split rail fence, under the shade of many a large tree, and in a nice grassy meadow.
The evening was spent erecting our little enclave, and there were many other similar units around, arriving to do their part as well. There were so many groups there, it seemed that it was a sort of time line review of the military of our country from early times, through the revolution, and into the 19th century.
The first light of dawn brought revielle, and we all got up, had our roll, and proceeded to get up some breakfast. Presently, we were summoned out to the town green, just a short walk from the mill, the 8th arriving a few minutes early, we found the green mostly deserted at this early hour. It seems that some grumbling in the ranks on the march over aggravated the orderly sergeant, and so tow particular privatese were detailed to stand guard at the entry of the town bank, while the rest of the boys were put at rest.
After a time, other units were arriving, and there we all formed in line, making a square around the flagpole. To the Colors was blown, and up went the flag of our nation, everyone there at present arms. A gun was sounded, and an 1830's millitia from the town fired three vollies as a salute. We retired back to camp to get some of the daily fatigue duties underway.
We were soon called back to the town green to give a public demonstration highlighting the virtues of service with the Eighth. Pvt. Maston volunteered for the task, and gave a very well received talk about the task at hand, the level of effort, the details of equipment, and the overall impact of the war on the state.
In the early afternoon, all the units present were formed into line about the green, the music started playing, and a fine parade was conducted to the cheering support of the citizens. Colors were waving, and the boys marched in their finest military form. All were proud to be part of this parade, and we circled the entire town, came back to the green, circled it once more, came to a halt, and were dismissed once more.
We returned to our camps, and the citizenry were all coming through to see our military life, and to talk to us about the details of service. We spent several pleasant hours conversing with all sort of folks, some young, some old, and many in between. There were several who were inquiring if we knew their sons or husbands already in the army, and what they were doing. We answered all their questions as best as we could, gave them some demonstrations of manual of arms, reviewed to contents of our humble little kits, and even showed them how well we can cook and feed ourselves. The colors of the Old Eighth were the admiration of all.
As dusk approached, the crowds started to thin, and the boys started to think of getting up some supper. We went with the stone soup approach, and so Hal and John put together quite a pile of pork, chicken, beef, and all sorts of vegetables into a fine old stew. Seth had been worrying a pail of peas for a day or so, and so that was brought to the front, and coaxed into a pea soup with carrot, onion, and ham. All was consumed in fine order and with great relish. Once the pots were cleaned, the evening turned to gathering about the campfire, and talking, telling stories, and singing the Captain's favorite songs until almost midnight. We all turned in, happy, healthy, and truely glad to have been lucky enough to draw a duty that brought us here, away from the seat of war.
Sunday came, and the day progressed much along the same lines as yesterday. The public was greatly in attendance once more, and all were thrilled to get and and all bits of news and information that our first hand exposure could provide them. After the same afternoon parade and procession, we were asked to conduct a sham battle with the town militia to show some various formations, and evolutions that are used in the field. We agreed and had a little scrape with the militia in a little field opposite the Bixby house. No one was hurt, and a fine time was had by all, participants and spectators alike.
At the conclusion of the sham battle, we were ordered to strike camp, pack up, and march back to the cars. It seems our little holiday away from the seat of war was about over, and the real work of us soldiers was confronting us once more. Good bye and fare well to Old Sturbridge, a great little town with a big heart an a lot of hospitality. I do hope that we can draw that duty once more.
Your obedient servant,
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.