Saturday, July 16, 2011

Faces of the Civil War: Elisha Strong Kellogg

Elisha Strong Kellogg is one of the more interesting Civil War characters. Before the war, he prospected for gold in California and served in the British Merchant Fleet. As one story goes, he may have been jailed in a foreign port for assaulting another man who disparaged the American flag. (1)

From New Hartford, Conn., Kellogg enlisted as a captain in the Federal army on Nov. 22, 1861, and was commissioned into Co. B of the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery. A tough-as-nails soldier and a taskmasker who was respected by most of men, Kellogg later rose to colonel of the 19th Connecticut Infantry, known as the Litchfield County regiment. "The Old Nineteenth," which later became the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery, served mainly in the defenses of Washington before General Ulysses Grant put it on the front lines in Virginia with the Army of the Potomac in May 1864.
Elisha Strong Kellogg, a colonel in the 2nd Connecticut Heavy
Artillery,  was killed at Cold Harbor on June 1, 1864.
(Litchfield Historical Society)
"In the eyes of civilians, Colonel Kellogg was nothing but a horrid, strutting, shaggy monster," Dudley Landon Vaill wrote after the war. "But request any one of the survivors of the Nineteenth Infantry or the Second Artillery to name the most perfect soldier he ever saw, and this will surely be the man." (2)
Monument for Kellogg in Forest View
Cemetery in Winsted, Conn., near Hartford.

On the afternoon of June 1, 1864 at Cold Harbor, Kellogg was killed while leading his regiment of 1,800 men in their first major battle of the Civil War. Kellogg, cheering his troops on, was shot in the head as his men initially dented the Confederates' position but were later cut to pieces in a futile effort against a heavily entrenched enemy. The toll: 85 killed, 221 wounded and 19 missing. I have walked the ground the Connecticut men covered many times and agree with the Confederate general who said such fighting wasn't war, it was murder.

Kellogg's body was eventually retrieved near the Rebel works, and he was buried in a corner of Forest View Cemetery in Winsted, Conn., about 25 miles from Hartford. Kellogg, 39 when he died, had settled there with his wife, Polly. (The monument for Kellogg at the cemetery was recently refurbished with the help of  the Civil War War Roundtable of Torrington, Conn., led by my friends Mary Lou and Blair Pavlik of Torrington, Conn.)

Kellogg's death had a major effect on the 2nd Connecticut.
Kellogg was 39 when he was killed
at Cold Harbor, near Richmond, Va.

"He was, indeed, the controlling spirit and bond of the regiment, and his death is our greater loss," according to minutes of a meeting of 2nd Connecticut officers on July 1, 1864. "Long will we hold him in endeared remembrance -- thorough as an officer, brave as a soldier, and kind as a man." (3)

There's a small monument to the 2nd Connecticut at Cold Harbor -- the only monument on the field to a regiment -- near where Kellogg and his men died. On the base of the monument last week lay an American flag with a broken staff (below).

(1) "Not War But Murder," Ernest B. Furgurson, Page 100.

(2) "The County Regiment: A Sketch of the Second Regiment of Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery, Originally the Nineteenth Volunteer Infantry, in the Civil War," Dudley Landon Vaill, 1908, Page 16.

(3) "The Old Nineteenth: The Story of the Second Connecticut Heavy Artillery in the Civil War," Richard W. Smith, Page 332.

(Video by Jessica Banks)

CORRECTION: Kellogg enlisted in the Union army on Nov. 22, 1861, not July 1862 as stated in the video. He first served with the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery.
Dedicated in 2003, the 2nd Connecticut monument at Cold Harbor. An American flag
with its 
staff broken lay at the base of the monument during my recent visit
 to the battlefield near Richmond, Va.

No comments:

Post a Comment