This is a narrative of Wethersfield's participation in the great Civil War. [Approximately 200] Wethersfield men served in the war. At that time the population was 2,700 so more than 1/3 of the town's able-bodied young men were in the war. Nine were African-Americans who were part of the Connecticut regiments consisting of African-Americans.
Twenty-nine men died, one of which was shot for desertion. Of these twenty-nine, five were killed in battles, two died from wounds, four died in prison camp and the remaining eighteen died from other causes, mainly disease. Nineteen men were wounded and nineteen captured. Forty-three deserted, but this was not a realistic number in that after the war many soldiers went home without waiting for official discharge procedures. There was much to be done at home and the war was over.
The remainder of this paper will concentrate on regimental or other unit activities that particularly affected Wethersfield men.
Connecticut 1st Volunteer Regiment had five Wethersfield men enlisted in this 90-day regiment. At that time most of the people in both the North and South thought that the war would be very short and 90-day regiments were common. The regiment was at First Bull Run but saw no action. Four of the five men re-enlisted in other regiments.
Connecticut 3rd Volunteer Regiment was another 90-day regiment, which contained four Wethersfield men and saw some action of First Bull Run.
Connecticut 5th Volunteer Regiment was formed from many of the men in the 90-day regiments and continued to fight throughout the war. The regiment fought against Stonewall Jackson in his valley campaign and was in the final skirmish at Chancellorsville in which Jackson was wounded by his own men and later died of complications. It also fought at Gettysburg and later transferred to Sherman's army participating in his march to the sea.
Seven Wethersfield men were in this regiment, one of whom was wounded in the Atlanta Company and later died of his wounds.
Connecticut 7th Volunteer Regiment was one of the first regiments that reflected the realism that it would not be a short war. Enlistments were for 3 years. There were 20 Wethersfield men who were part of this unit. They spent the early part of their service in the sea islands of South Carolina and Georgia. Two Wethersfield men died on Hilton Head Island where no fighting was being done. This is an example that disease was a major killer of the Civil War soldiers. Later in that war they fought in the Richmond-Petersburg campaign, suffering deaths, wounds and capture. Desertions were higher in this regiment including three Wethersfield men who did not return to their units after recovery from wounds.
Connecticut 8th Volunteer Regiment contained 18 Wethersfield men including Chaplain John Morris who later co-authored a book on the war. Their fiercest fighting was at Antietam where Morris was said to have picked up a gun in the heat of the battle and at Cold Harbor where 2 Wethersfield men were killed and one was wounded.
Connecticut 9th Volunteer Regiment contained two Wethersfield men, one of whom died in New Orleans. The regiment spent the early part of the war in Louisiana and finished it in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
Connecticut 10th Volunteer Regiment served in North Carolina, Florida and Virginia. It contained 11 Wethersfield men.
Connecticut 11th Volunteer Regiment was with Burnside's expedition to the North Carolina barrier islands. The later went with him to Antietam and suffered heavy casualties. Of the ten Wethersfield men in this unit, two were killed. The regiment fought in the Richmond-Petersburg campaign losing it's brigade colonel, Hartford's Gifford Stedman who is buried in Wethersfield.
Connecticut 12th Volunteer Regiment was known as the Charter Oak Regiment, being recruited in the Hartford area. Eleven Wethersfield men were in the regiment, one of whom died. It fought under Benjamin Butler in Louisiana and later with Nathaniel Banks in his Louisiana campaign.
Connecticut 13th Volunteer Regiment had 9 Wethersfield men and had parallel service with the 12th being recruited in New Haven.
Connecticut 16th Volunteer Regiment was one of Connecticut's and Wethersfield's tragic regiments. It was mustered in late August of 1962 and in less than a month was thrown into the final part of the Battle of Antietam. The unit was untrained and only recently armed. Predictably they were ineffective and ran, suffering heavy casualties. Of the 15 Wethersfield men, two deserted the day of the battle.
The unit fought at Fredericksburg with slight loss and was then transferred to the Southern Virginia, Northern North Carolina area. The regiment was stationed at the town of Plymouth. There it was attacked and captured by an overwhelming Confederate force. 436 were captured and sent to various prison camps. Most of them were sent to Andersonville and about one half died there. Nine Wethersfield men were captured of which three died.
Connecticut 18th Volunteer Regiment contained one Wethersfield man who participated in no battles.
Connecticut 20th Volunteer Regiment fought at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg and then transferred to Sherman's Georgia Company. There were four Wethersfield men in the unit.
Connecticut 21st Volunteer Regiment fought at Fredericksburg, Cold Harbor, and in the Petersburg campaign. There were four Wethersfield men in the unit.
Connecticut 22nd Volunteer Regiment contained 41 Wethersfield men. This regiments was a 9 month regiment which spend most of its time in the defense of Washington, but also spent some time on the Virginia peninsula. Ironically, the troops were mustered out on 7/7/63, four days after Gettysburg. The degree of its involvement in the battle can be inferred from the fact that the regiment had no one killed in battle.
Connecticut 25th Volunteer Regiment was another 9-month regiment which was primarily engaged in the siege of Fort Hudson in Louisiana which fell shortly after the fall of Vicksburg. One of the 17 Wethersfield men was captured in this campaign.
Connecticut 27th Volunteer Regiment contained only one Wethersfield man who was captured at Chancellorsville, but was shortly released. The regiment faced severe fighting at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and Gettysburg.
Connecticut 29th Volunteer Regiment was the first Connecticut regiment of African Americans formed near the beginning of 1864. It saw action under the direction of General Benjamin Butler who was one of the early advocates of using black soldiers. There were eight Wethersfield men in this unit, one of whom died after the fighting was over but was still with the regiment.
Connecticut 30th Volunteer Regiment was the other Connecticut African American regiment. One Wethersfield man became sergeant in this small unit which was involved in the famous battle of the crated and went on to Lee's surrender at Appomattox.
First Connecticut Heavy Artillery Volunteer Regiment was originally in the Connecticut 4th infantry. It was one of the first regiments in the North to agree to a 3-year enlistment. There were 20 Wethersfield men in the unit. They were assigned to the Army of the Potomac. They performed significant service at Lee's assault on Fort Stedman in March of 1865 which was to be his last offensive effort of the war.
Second Connecticut Heavy Artillery Volunteer Regiment was organized as the 19th Infantry Regiment and was changed to Heavy Artillery in November of 1865. In May of 1864 General Grant decided that he needed Infantry more than heavy artillery and changed their function back but not the name. They were assigned to one of the best brigadier generals, Emery Upton, and fought in many of the key battles in the east. There were seven Wethersfield men in this unit.
Connecticut 1st Cavalry Volunteer Regiment fought unsuccessfully against Stonewall Jackson in his famous Shenandoah Valley Campaign and successfully with General Phil Sheridan in his later cleanup of the Valley and in the campaign to the end of the war in West Virginia. There were six Wethersfield men in this regiment.
Other Wethersfield men served in some non Connecticut units and 4 men served in the Navy including Sherman Adams who was Asst. P.M. of the Gunboat Somerset doing blockade duty along the Florida peninsula.
About the Author: Wes Christensen