|Three images of the revolver of 14th Connecticut Lieutenant Perkins Bartholomew, whose|
name is inscribed on the weapon (top). (Photos courtesy of current owner)
|14th Connecticut Lieutenant Perkins Bartholomew|
was mortally wounded at the Battle of Boydton Plank Road.
(Image courtesy Tad Sattler)
Although he wasn't present during the battle on Oct. 27, 1864, regiment adjutant William Hincks wrote a detailed account of Bartholomew's death to his mother, apparently with information gleaned from soldiers in the regiment. The officer from Bridgeport, Conn., had plenty of experience with the grim duty of informing relatives of the deaths of their loved ones.
"I know that it ... is very hard that he was not brought in and that we had to leave his burial to the enemy," he wrote on Nov. 13, 1864, "but remember that we were in the enemy's country miles away from our own lines, the enemy upon almost every side of us in greatly superior numbers." Trying to soften the blow of her son’s death, Hincks took pains to explain to Caroline Bartholomew that her son did not suffer, the regiment did all it could for Perkins and that one soldier indeed remained with him when he died.
|Efforts to recover Perkins Bartholomew's body|
were fruitless, according to this report
in the Hartford Daily Courant on Nov. 28, 1864.
(CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE.)
Hincks noted that a comrade heard Bartholomew's dying words -- “Tell my mother I die like a man fighting for my country" -- and retrieved the dead officer's shoulder straps and memo book. Both items may have been forwarded to Mrs. Bartholomew.
Perhaps another memento made its way back to the 23-year-old officer's family: Bartholomew's Manhattan Navy revolver. The weapon, inscribed with Perkins' name, rank and regiment, was purchased in the 1980s at a Civil War show by a longtime collector, who recently shared with me images of the prized collectible. The revolver shows considerable wear, according to the self-proclaimed "octogenerian" collector, an indication it was used during the war and may have been with Bartholomew the morning he died.
Despite efforts by Perkins' friend, a doctor named Frank Dudley, and others, the lieutenant's body was never found. He “died in a cause that has called thousands before him," Dudley wrote to Bartholomew's sister on Feb. 2, 1865, "and thousands still must be sacrificed before this wicked war will end.”
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--14th Connecticut adjutant William B. Hincks to Caroline Bartholomew, Nov. 13, 1864, MS Civil War Box II, Folder 3, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Conn.
-- Dr. Frank A. Dudley letter to Carrie O’Neal, Feb.2, 1865, MS Civil War Box II, Folder 3, Connecticut Historical Society.