Tuesday, February 05, 2013

National Archives: Road trip to mecca for researchers

Captain James Moore of the 8th Connecticut survived Antietam but was 
badly wounded later in the Civil War. (Connecticut State Library Archives)
Nelson Bronson, a 1st lieutenant in the 8th Connecticut, 
was wounded at the Battle of Antietam.
(Connecticut State Library Archives)

It's not quite like Christmas Eve when I was a kid, but it's close. I am putting the final touches tonight on preparations for a trip to the mecca for Civil War researchers, the National Archives in Washington. While there for the next 3 1/2 days, I hope to uncover details of the stories of Connecticut soldiers such as Nelson Bronson, a first lieutenant in the 8th Connecticut from Waterbury. Bronson was wounded in the back and arm at the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, and later served in the Veterans Reserve Corps, a unit for disabled soldiers.

Tapping into pension files and searching other musty nooks and crannies at the Archives, I also hope to uncover more about Captain James Moore, who also served in the 8th Connecticut. From Norwich, Moore survived Antietam unscathed but was badly wounded at the Battle of Walthall Junction, near Richmond and Petersburg, on May 7, 1864. (A CDV of Moore is currently up for sale on eBay for $135. And here's another image of him on Flickr.) My aim is to stay intensely focused on researching Connecticut soldiers who fought at Antietam, but there's an outside chance I could be distracted. According to an excellent source, there's a very good Irish bar in my hotel, a short walk from the Archives. Rumor has it that it once was a popular spot for the Irish Republican Army in the '70s. A pint of Guinness versus hours of research in the Archives? Life is always filled with interesting challenges. Wish me luck!

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