This was a fairly slow week for the 1st Connecticut Regiment, although it did culminate in their first war casualty. The week involved some activity with the Colonel and mainly telegraph line work and railroad reconnaissance. Note that the Battle of Big Bethel took place on June 10th, and although the 1st Connecticut was not involved several of the members made notes of this battle in their correspondence.
Private Wolcott Marsh (Rifle Company A) visited the Marshall House in Alexandria on June 15th and noted that the wooden stairway where Elmer Ellsworth had been killed was cut away by Union troops as souvenirs (Mercer and Mercer, 2006). Private Horace Purdy also mentions this in a letter and sends a piece of the stairway to his wife. Unfortunately the current location of this momento is unknown.
From the journal of Private Horace Purdy:
Monday, June 10th 1861
The Colonel (Burnham) drunk. He abused Sgt. [Milo] Dickens shamefully at the morning drill without any cause at all. The difficulty was with him and not the Sgt. I went on picket guard this morning for the first time. My watch was brought from Washington it having been there to be repaired. The Stars + Stripes were hoisted in camp today. Governor Buckingham has been here and reviewed us.
[Note: Some accounts state that Burnham suffered from a neurological disorder than made him appear as drunk in the eyes of observers. Although the letters of Wolcott Marsh note on June 16th that the "Boys are getting disgusted with Colonel Burnham. Some companies starting petition to have him removed".]
Tuesday, June 11th 1861
Hard thunder + lightening [sic] last night but to shower passed over without any rain here. I came off picket guard feeling a little tired but otherwise I felt good. I commenced a letter to Gussie. I received one from her and one from Harriet N. York.
Wednesday, June 12th 1861
Our drills are changed to earlier in the morning and later in the afternoon. We drill now from 8 ½ to 10 ½ O’clock AM. And from 4 to 6 o’clock P.M. The day has been very warm. An engine with two cars passed our camp at 7 pm going towards Alexandria with an escort of soldiers on board. This is the first train that has run over the road since we have been encamped here.
Thursday, June 13th 1861
Capt. [Eliakim] Wildman acted as Lieut Col and drilled the right wing of the regiment this forenoon. Lieut Stevens went with a party of us to bathe at 11 o’clock. We were obliged to have a commissioned officer with us in order to pass the guard. [Private Benjamin F.] Skinner got mad about a bed in the eve and left the tent. It has been a beautiful day.
Sunday, June 16th 1861
About 400 of our regiment headed by Gen Tyler went up the railroad to reconnoiter. While I with a detailed party was at work putting up telegraph poles and wire. One of the platform cars filled with our soldiers was fired into near Vienna and seriously wounded one of Capt. Comstock’s Co. Busbee [Private George H. Bugbey of Hartford, CT, Infantry Company A] by name. One of our scouts were we were at work on the telegraph saw some men setting fire to the track between us and the train which had gone up. Frank Platt and myself rolled a hand car down to camp as soon as possible to get men to go up and drive then off. But when we got up there they had left without doing any damage. So we had our trouble for nothing. We saw some men ahead up the track just on the edge of a piece of woods which we thought to be the enemy but they proved to be our own. In a short time the train came down with the wounded man with the west. Some of us took the train and others of us took the handcar and went in to camp.
Two Nat Turner Tours - I haven’t had much to say concerning the new movie about Nat Turner called Birth of a Nation. To be completely honest, I almost fell asleep when I saw it…
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