Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
Smith-Harris Living History Report
Sept. 29-30, 2007
East Lyme, Conn.
What wonderful weather greeted us as we arrived in our home state of
Connecticut once again! A small detachment of troops from the 8th
Connecticut, Company A had been charged with the task of helping to
recruit more members to fill out our thinning ranks. We arrived at a
beautiful farm house in East Lyme where townsfolk had gathered on
Saturday morning, and we met up with members of the 14th Connecticut,
Company G, who had also arrived with the same task in mind. Realizing we
had identical purposes, and that any new recruits from the grand state of
Connecticut would be an asset to our common fight for the Union, we
engaged in many joint activities, besides some separate recruiting for
our own units.
The day began with combined detachments forming up for a flag-raising
ceremony at the front of the house. First Sergeant Hamel and I took
command of the troops and marched the men out under the flags of the
14th. The townspeople stood silently as the House flag was raised on
their flagpole, no doubt remembering the troops that are still in the
heat of battle and those that will not be returning. After this, we
engaged in skirmish drill to the delight of the public. We returned to
our respective camping areas (adjacent to each other) to continue our
recruitment efforts, although most of those that arrived over the course
of the weekend were not exactly high prospects.
An unfortunate incident took place that afternoon as one of our own, Pvt.
Boucher, took it upon himself to steal a time-piece from a neighboring
Naval detachment, who had also arrived with the purpose of recruitment.
Caught in the act by Pvt. Lake and Sgt. Hamel, he was immediately
apprehended and arrested. How embarrassing for one of our very own 8th
Connecticut men to sour the day by this dreadful act! I am without doubt
that this did not help to add any names to our recruitment list.
Questioned by myself, he was marched around the farm (in shame) wearing a
wooden placard with "THIEF" painted on the front and back until I was
satisfied with his repentance.
A packet of mail arrived addressed to the members of this particular
recruiting detachment - I wonder how the senders knew in advance those
particular soldiers would be there. Regrettably, most of the mail was
not good news. Pvt. Lake was informed that he had been selected as the
newest member of the Union steam submersible "U.S.S. ANVIL". Pvt.
Bingham was presented with a bill for damages sustained to a horse-drawn
wagon from a drunken escapade, most likely before his enlistment. Sgt.
Hamel, having invested in a Mexican railway company that was now defunct
due to invasion, now owed a large sum of money after his initial sum was
poorly reinvested. It was only by the quick work of an insurance
salesman arriving shortly thereafter that Sgt. Hamel's mind was set at
ease, as he decided upon a life insurance policy to protect his family in
case of tragedy.
With some persuasion, members of the 8th and 14th engaged in a military
skirmish with other soldiers to demonstrate battlefield manuevers for the
public. This was done on a very small scale, of course, but the
townspeople were very appreciative. It soon became extremely apparent of
their complete oblivion to what war is actually like, and for that, I
thank the Heavenly Father. The townsfolk must have been expecting us,
for after our mock skirmish we received a pine box filled with apples,
beans, potatoes, a small book, a tin whistle, tent pegs, and - to the
delight of everyone there - beeswax candles for everyone.
The day drew to a close, and although the night was chilly, it was not
dreadfully cold. As the sun rose the next morning, the combined
detachments formed up again for a walk to the local cemetary to remember
some of those East Lyme residents who had already given their lives for
the Union. We also visited the nearby "Old Stone Church", saw the bell,
and chatted with a nearby farmer who takes care of the land on which the
Church is located. Returning to the farmhouse, we once again raised the
flag, engaged in recruitment efforts and drilled for the public before
moving on that afternoon. It was a wonderful weekend, and as we bid
farewell to the detachment from the 14th Connecticut, we hoped we would
see them again at a later date. How nice it was to work together, and at
such a hospitable area!
I will write again when I am able. I am healthy and am looking forward
to seeing you soon. I remain,
Lt. Nathan Bayreuther
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Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.