Tuesday, January 01, 2008

A Connecticut Civil War soldier revealed

This Civil War monument in Litchfield, a small town northwest of Hartford, made for an interesting winter photo. Soldiers from Litchfield County, which includes Waterbury, Litchfield, Fairfield and other small towns, died for the Union at Antietam, Cold Harbor and elsewhere during the Civil War. I did some research on Capt. Luman Wadhams, listed on the monument as killed at Cold Harbor, Va. Wadhams was from Waterbury, which sent 799 sons to serve for the Union. Forty-two were killed in action, 13 died as POWs and 61 died of disease. Here's a snapshot of Wadham's service:


On 4/22/1861 he mustered into "Inf D" Co. CT 1st Infantry
He was Mustered Out on 7/31/1861 at New Haven, CT

On 9/25/1861 he was commissioned into "E" Co. CT 8th Infantry
He Resigned on 4/8/1862

On 9/11/1862 he was commissioned into "A" Co. CT 2nd Heavy Artillery
He died of wounds on 6/3/1864
(Residence listed as "Litchfield, CT")

He was listed as:
* Wounded 6/1/1864 Cold Harbor, VA

* 2nd Lieut 9/25/1861 (As of Co. E 8th CT Infantry)
* 1st Lieut 9/11/1862 (As of Co. A 2nd CT Heavy Artillery)
* Capt 8/24/1863

Litchfield County (and the Union) suffered terribly at Cold Harbor, where Gen. Ulysses Grant (left) ordered a misguided frontal assault against the entrenched Confederates. The loss Wadhams' regiment suffered in a charge against Confederate breastworks was greater than that of any Connecticut regiment in any single battle. Grant later wrote: "Cold Harbor is the only battle I ever fought that I would not fight over again under the circumstances. I have always regretted that the assault on Cold Harbor was ever made."

Here's an excerpt from the regimental report in which Wadhams is mentioned:

June 1st, under command of Colonel Kellogg, the regiment
was disposed in three lines, under Majors Hubbard, Rice, and
Ells, and advanced in that order, the objective point being the
heavy earthworks defended by Longstreet's veterans. It passed
at double-quick to the first line, capturing it and sending to
the rear over 300 prisoners; forward again at double-quick,
with intervals of less than 100 yards between the battalions,
to and through a stiff abattis, within twenty yards of the
enemy's main line, where it met a most destructive fire from
both its front and left flank, but pressed on, some even to the
top of the main line of earthworks. Nothing could withstand
the murderous fire that now met them, and the First and Second
battalions crept back to the somewhat less exposed position
held by the Third, but leaving on the field 323 of Litchfield
County's bravest sons, 129 of them dead or mortally wounded, --
a record unsurpassed by any regiment of the Union army during
the war. Among these were that ideal soldier, Colonel E. S.
Kellogg, who fell riddled with bullets in the advance with the
First battalion, Captain Luman Wadhams, who was mortally, and
Major Ells, who was severely, wounded.

We are not allowed space in which to chronicle individual
acts of bravery and devotion to duty, but cannot pass to record
other scenes without saying that the fortunate survivors of
this terrible conflict remember with loving pride the last
words and acts of such comrades as Corporal Baldwin of Company
E (reported "missing," but certainly killed in action), and the
cool, quiet, but quick and sensible decisions of Kellogg,
Hubbard, Ells, Skinner, Fenn, Wadhams, Berry, Burnham, Hosford,
Spencer, and other officers, and the unrecorded bravery of very
many of our fellow-soldiers.

After Cold Harbor, Union soldiers often were buried (above) in shallow graves. Shortly after the war, they were unearthed for reburial elsewhere.

1 comment:

  1. To Lois Dean:

    Please contact me. I am very interested in your information on the Wadhams brothers who fought in the Civil War. Thanks