Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Company A, Inc.
200th Anniversary Lincoln Birthday
Fort Trumbull, New London, Conn.
July 18-19, 2009
Abraham Lincoln 200th Birthday
New London, Conn.
New London, Conn.
All is well with the boys of the Eighth and all our best friends in the service of the Nutmeg State. We were recently detailed to Fort Trumbull here overlooking the New London harbor, and adjacent to the old mirror Revoluntionary Fort Griswold across the Thames River. The views from the grounds and the fort are all New England, adnd we are pleased and honored to be here to enjoy them.
We were ordered here in preparation for receiving and instructing the 1863 draftees and substitutes that we would be conducting back to the seat of war to swell our old ranks. In addition to this detail, we were to be honored by a visit from the Governor of Connecticut, William Buckingham, and the President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. This is one of the three state wide living history celebrations of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth. The State of Connecticut, the Connecticut Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, the Connecticut Civil War Round Table, and living history organizations coordinate and sponsor these evenets across our state this year.
Upon arriving after questionable weather prevailed across the inland portions of the state, to discover that New London has a natural knack of avoiding severe weather, we were all very pleased to find that the parade ground at the fort was still dry and that our camp went up first rate. We were joined by many friends, including the 2CHA, 8CV, 11CV, 14CV to swell the battalion ranks. The evening was spent in good company and good weather. It rained some in the night but no discomfort was had.
The morning brought more good weather, although the trains running east from the rest of the state were well delayed by severe rains. These conditions delayed some from arriving at the fort, and indeed delayed the President's aarrival. Governor Buckingham, having but a short jump down from Norwich was on site early, and his pleasant intercourse and kind messages buoyed the troops along until the President's arrival.
The arrival of both the Governor and the President were separately honored by the escort of the battalion from the foot of the street, across the property, into the fort, and both were kind enough to address the assembled troops. The Governor in his remarks impressed all there with his dedication and commitment to the troops he was sending to the seat of war, in material, pay, and support. The President also reviewed and inspected the troops, and the boys were so pleased with his kind words of encouragement. There was a small dinner prepared and offered for the dignataries in our camp, but few attended, thus left the finest meal of chicken and rice to the boys in the ranks.
The afternoon brought a large public demonstration of the operations of the battalion, jointly conducted by the officers of the 2CHA, 8CV, 11CV, and 14CV. The citizens were well impressed, and very supportive of our humble band of representatives from the Army from the Nutmeg state. The President made a few public speeches, there were demonstrations by our Army surgeon, the US Christian Commission, and many more. As the day wore on, the heat began to climb, and the humidity was thick.
There was a short surprise when two secesh soldiers tried to approach the fort, most probably spies. They were quickly apprehended, and put in the fort jail. It turned out that they were both quite sick, and so they were sent to the surgeon for examination. Of course, the surgeon was disgusted with them and their condition, and refused to examine them until they were calmed and cleaned. Once he did, he treated them with compassion and left them in the custody of the provost.
After the excitement waned, and the fort was closed to the public, we commenced to get up some rations. There was an iron chef competition between our Hal and Don. Hal concocted a fine fish soup, with catfish, oysters, shrimp, potato, celery, peppers. Don got up a fine pork lion boil of pork, broth, onions, mushrooms. Well, when the competition was delivered, every morsel was consumed, every man was satiated. and the event was declared a tie. There was nothing to clean up, as all was hidden away in the bellies of the happy men.
Our own Pvt. Payne, long since lost to the prisons of the south, had somehow determined to escape, and reported to duty here at the fort. He was able to bring along several desired souveniers from the trip north, mostly from the Pottsville region, and was cheered by our friends for his efforts.
The evening brought to the ramparts of the fort, the views of many illuminations and firewworks that were being consumed to the east in Niantic bay. We could plainly see them, and sometimes hear them from the east side of the fort. After they were done, we retired back to the camp on the parade ground, and started a good night's rest.
Sunday morning brought an easy duty, where we were posting guards around the perimeter of the property. It seems that some rabid seccesh had made his way north, and was harrassing the guard. One was wounded before the orders to sweep him in were given. There must have been some lack of vigilance to let him get so close, but he was captured in due time. He was tied to a tree, and questioned at length. The most extraordinary thing happened next. Our headquarters received orders to release the prisoner immediately and unconditionally. Many of the garrison were incensed, but the orders were completed. Yet in no time, the harrasment resumed, and so the rebel was caught once more. This time, he was offered to sign an oath of allegience, which he did, and he was untied and welcomed to the ranks. Yet, once more, the maniac went on the offensive, stole the headquarters order book, and tried to escape once more. He was apprehended, and executed by the guard.
During these trials, there were several citizens at the fort, and one man and woman were kind enough to minister to the wounded in the heat of the conffusion. The husband told me after, "She told me we were off to church and a picnic. Imagine, church and a picnic!".
The boys in blue and one in gray conducted another extensive public demonstration of the military customs, manual of arms, firings, and drill. Many questions and concerns were addressed, and the citizens of the state of Connecticut were left with the full satisfaction that the volunteers of the state were making every effort to protect them, the State, and the Union! We concluded with many thanks to Don and all the contributors for their efforts that made the event possible.
Please join me in thanking all the organizers of this event, the supporters of this event, our reenactor friends, the CALBC, the CCWRT, the dignatary portrayers, and most of all, the staff of Fort Trumbull State Park for their support and hospitality. It was an honor and privelege to be invited to make this event a great success.
Your humble servant,
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Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.