|Edward Wadhams: Killed at Fort Darling, Va., on May 16, 1864.|
|Luman Wadhams: Mortally wounded at Cold Harbor, Va., June 1, 1864.|
|Henry Wadhams: Killed at North Anna, Va., May 26, 1864.|
|Wadhams brothers monument, Litchfield, Conn.|
There were other instances of multiple members of the same family dying during the Civil War. But three brothers in 18 days? This story is "Saving Private Ryan" way before "Saving Private Ryan." One can only imagine the reaction of the brothers' parents, Edwin and Mary, when Deacon Adams delivered news of their deaths at the Wadhams farm just outside of town. In gathering information from the National Archives in Washington, the Litchfield Historical Society and from other sources, here's some of what I know about this fascinating story of three brothers:
|Camp Dutton today: Luman Wadhams trained here.|
|Camp Dutton marker|
Luman, commissioned a 1st lieutenant, was highly regarded by his men throughout his service, seldom punishing them. A visitor from Litchfield, while visiting Wadhams' troops after he became captain, remarked to him: "I find none of your men in the guard house, the boys say that is always so. How do you manage?" "I talk to my boys,” Wadhams replied. (1)
|Luman Wadhams is in sixth row, second from left. (Litchfield Historical Society)|
|Luman Wadhams, dead at 29.|
According to The Connecticut War Record: "In the moment of success [Wadhams] fell pierced through the body. His devoted men sprang to his assistance. In the absence of a stretcher they made a stretcher of their muskets, and carried him on their shoulders a mile and a half to the hospital."(2) Wadhams lingered for two days and died in an ambulance on the way to White House, Va., on June 3, 1864. He was 29 years old.
Wadhams' funeral service, held at the Congregational Church opposite the Litchfield village green, was "crowded to its utmost capacity by sympathizing friends, and large numbers of strangers from out of town came to pay their respects to the lamented deceased." (3)
Following Luman's death, his widow, Louisa, worked as a nurse in the South, where she often encountered horrid conditions in Union hospitals. "There was not an arm, head, leg, or any wound even, I shrank from, however bad it was," she wrote in a letter to a Rev. George Richards in October 1864. "There was one poor boy that had his right eye entirely shot away, and his left was so filled with blood dirt and powder he thought that was gone too, as he told me: 'I am blind, Lady, blind for my flag.' ...
"Another has his left lung laid entirely bare," she wrote, "you can look in and see the beating and working of that delicate machinery, but there he lies, unmurmuringly, patiently awaiting death." (4)
More to come.
(1) The Connecticut War Record, Wadhams brothers obituary, published September 1864.
(2) The Connecticut War Record, Page 277.
(3) The Litchfield Times, June 1864
(4) The History of Litchfield, Page 227.