Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
Sturbridge Village Redcoats to Rebels Event Report
Old Sturbridge Village
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August 5-6, 2006
Aug. 6th, 1864
You might note from the heading of this letter that we have been detailed to the home country for a recruiting party. We are in the north of Conn, and the south of Mass, seeking the bombproofs and stay-at-homes that might bolster our ranks. It might be told that all the good men are already in the army, and the picking is slim. Bounties are a rage, and causing several to sign and run. What I would like most is to return to the regiment and finish our work in the seat of war.
We arrived here in Sturbridge, among several marshall units, all plying their trade and skills. We settled in to a fine camp behind a saw mill and near a grist mill on the river here. There was shade to be had on the tree lines, yet the mosquitoes were worse here than even the gaseous swamps of Carolina and Virginia.
We awoke in the morning after getting our little camp up for roll call and reports. Capt. Kurtz was in charge of the detail, and he is such a fine gentleman, all the boys adore him. We got up some breakfast, and went of guard duty first relief. The command was not in the mood to actually mount the guard, and as such, we simply did the best we could with the situation. There was no danger on guard, only greeting the friendly public, and keeping the peace.
The afternoon brought a battalion dress parade, and from thence, we proceeded to march in a grand review and parade all around the little village of Sturbridge, circling the green and the town twice. All the citizens were there cheering, and all the militas and volunteers and regulars in the parade felt proud to be there.
Our camp was in close proximity to an establishment of an insurance salesman from the Phoenix Mutual Insurance Company, from Hartford, Connecticut. He was a good salesman, and he purveyed his policies to all in our ranks. $10 a year will gain you family or benificiary a $500 pay out upon your unfortunate death. Of course that is a months pay in the army, so the agent offered arrangement upon arrangement, deal upon deal, whereby your friends could help get you a policy. He was fairly successful in getting some signed on, but certainly not the bulk of the boys.
In the afternoon, there was held for the public enjoyment a mock battle between several of the militia units, adn it was quite a thing for us to view from the comforts of our camp. They slugged it out for a time, and then all shook hands at the end. It was a sham battle of the Revolution, including the French, British, and Americans. Quite a show. The insurance salesman, whose establishment was right in the line of the guns, obliged the show by knocking down his entire fly when a blank gun was fired, to the cheers of all.
The evening was spent in relaxation, and eventually lead to a foray to an establishment hard by ou camps late in the evening. It was the "Black Thorn Tavern", and we all thought it might be a heaven for some song and drink. A small detail from the company approached the tavern only to find it closed, and as it was not all that late, we proceeded to the battalion headquaters, where we posted our findings on the closure, and of course, the proprieter was in the Colonel's tent, only to come right out, and offer to reopen the tavern for us. We all cheered, and proceeded to the place, and took up stools inside. The tavern was a large hospital tent, labeled on the gable "Ward B", but the inside was a fine place for our pursuits. There was lanterns from the ridge, and tables three with stools surrounding each, and the obligitory bar in the back. We proceeded to get some refreshments and started singing our songs, and it felt like the war was a thousand miles away. The songs were getting competitive, and the drinks were flowing well. We were all laughing and singing, and enjoying the hours. I will never forget the hospitality of the place. I walked out, just minutes before the Provost arrived and shut the place down. My name is not in the reports.
The next morning brought some drilling and demonstratations. One company was showing of the newest weapon of mass destruction, a Gatling gun. Such a weapon. The crowds were thick. We fell in to a formation, held a small dress parade, and after returning to camp for a noon dinner, we made the parade of the town once more.
That afternoon, all the army details were also obliged to conduct a sham battle. We did this, and over the open groiund, we were deployed in skirmish formation to the left of a battery. We watched all the other troops charge and retreat, and fire at close range, and were happy to participate from a reserved distance. All came off nicely, and the public citizens once again cheered our efforts, but it was nothing like what awaited us once we were to return to teh seat of war in the Virginia environs.
Please let it be known that this recruiting detail was of short notice, and there was no possiblity of getting event the shortest furlough to come home and see you all. We return to Virginia tomorrow, and so it is a heart felt sadness that I come this far and so close to home, yet I cannot lay my eyes upon my family so dear. Such is the price of freedom. I pray that you write and write often, as I can only hear your voices through you pen and paper.
Your humble friend,
Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.