Saturday, May 31, 2014

Cold Harbor: Deadly toll for Litchfield County, Connecticut

2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery fought here at Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864.
 A monument to the regiment is in the background.
On June 1, 1864 -- 150 years ago Sunday -- the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery suffered more than 300 casualties at the Battle of Cold Harbor, 10 miles northeast of the Rebel capital of Richmond. Later that night, regiment chaplain Winthrop Phelps jotted down a few lines to his wife in which he vividly described the horrendous experience, the Heavies' first major fighting of the Civil War. 

"Pray for me," he wrote to Lucy Phelps,  "am not in a fit state of mind." 

Most of the soldiers in the regiment were from Woodbury, New Milford, Harwinton, Litchfield and other small towns in Litchfield County, in northwestern Connecticut. On June 9, 1864, the Litchfield (Conn.) Enquirer, a weekly, published a staggering list of killed and wounded from Cold Harbor, "most of it kindly furnished us by friends of the gallant boys." During a recent visit to the Litchfield Historical Society, I photographed that list in the Enquirer with my iPhone and then crudely spliced it together to present it in its entirety below: 

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