Monday, May 25, 2015

A life shattered: 143rd New York Lt. Edward Carrington

Edward Carrington's toppled gravestone in Center Cemetery in rural Colebrook, Conn.
Carrington was only 27 when he died on March 6, 1865, a little more than a month
 before Lee surrendered to Grant.

Toppled and broken into three pieces, Edward Carrington's marble gravestone lay in the grass, apparently a demise by natural causes. Harsh Connecticut winters and gravity were the culprits, a caretaker of Center Cemetery in rural Colebrook told me Saturday morning. Although the stone won't be fixed by Memorial Day, he assured me it would be repaired.
A lieutenant in the 143rd New York,
 Edward Carrington was an 1859 graduate of Yale.
(Photo: Colebrook Historical Society)

A lieutenant in the 143rd New York, Carrington survived battles at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness and Kennesaw Mountain only to die in an obscure scrap while on detached duty at the Battle of Natural Bridge in St. Marks, Fla., a little more than a month before the Civil War officially ended. The Rebel bullet that killed him on March 6, 1865, tore through the front of his small uniform jacket, ripped through his liver and exited through the back. He was only 27.

Born in Hartford on Feb. 15, 1838, Edward was the son of Sarah Ann and Edward Carrington Sr., who moved to Colebrook when their son was young. A brilliant man, Carrington graduated in 1859 from Yale, where he was class valedictorian, and earned a law degree from Columbia, graduating in 1861 with highest honors. "Although I
have familiarly known many thousands of young men coming from all parts of the
country," a Columbia professor wrote, "I have never been acquainted with one who has so much impressed me by his native gifts as he." (Hat tip: Bob Grigg.)

When war broke out, Carrington was working as a lawyer in New York. After the death of his former Yale classmate, Lieutenant Deiday Hannas of the 6th New York Cavalry, on Sept. 10, 1862, Carrington was especially motivated to join the Union army. He enlisted as a 2nd lieutenant on Oct. 27, 1862. At Kennesaw Mountain in the summer of 1864, every soldier on the commanding general's staff was wounded -- except for Carrington, whose luck ran out in the spring of 1865.

"But in the advance upon St. Mark's, he was, as always, in his place, at the post of danger, and death, that 'loves a shining mark,' sought him there and laid him low," the New York Times noted in an obituary published March 27, 1865. "His only brother is Adjutant in a colored regiment in the Army of the Potomac. May Heaven heal the bitter wound caused by the death of the one, and spare their many friends the pain of the fall of the other."
The uniform jacket that Edward Carrington wore the day he died, with bullet
 entry wound at bottom left, is in the vault of the Colebrook (Conn.) Historical Society.
Close-ups of where the bullet that killed Edward Carrington entered  (left) 
and exited his uniform jacket.

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