Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Antietam: Shattered family, broken tombstone

Killed at the Battle of Antietam, Captain Jarvis Blinn of the 14th Connecticut is buried in
Center Cemetery in Rocky Hill, Conn. His repaired gravestone was upright in this photo
I shot in November. (Blinn photo courtesy of Rocky Hill Historical Society)
In its terrible wake, the Civil War left behind broken dreams and hundreds of thousands of shattered families, including the Blinns of New Britain, Conn.

A 26-year-old captain in the 14th Connecticut, Jarvis Blinn was killed at the Battle of Antietam on Sept. 17, 1862, proclaiming "I am a dead man!" moments after he was shot in the heart on the Samuel Mumma or William Roulette farm. A mechanic before the war, Blinn left behind a wife, Alice, and two young children.

Two days after the battle, while gathered in a camp near Sharpsburg, Md., officers of the 14th Connecticut passed four resolutions to honor Blinn and Samuel Williard, a captain from Madison, who also was killed at Antietam. Published in the Hartford Courant and New Haven Register, the resolutions included this acknowledgement of the awful loss for the families of the dead men, both of whom were well-regarded by their peers.
After a funeral service in New Britain, where Blinn resided, 
another service was held for the captain at the
 Congregational Church in Rocky Hill, where he was born. 
Afterward, he was buried in nearby Center Cemetery
The church was built in 1808.

"Resolved. That we tender our my earnest sympathy to the bereaved families who are thrown into sudden mourning by this loss, and pray God to sustain and comfort the wives made widows, and the children made fatherless, and to grant that this and all other sacrifices now offered upon the altar of our beloved country may not be in vain." (1)

For Alice Blinn, the death of her husband hit home especially hard. In a letter to her fiance, 8th Connecticut chaplain John Morris, 19-year-old Augusta Griswold of Wethersfield described the "sad ceremonies" held Oct. 14, 1862, for Blinn in nearby Rocky Hill and the effect of his death on his wife.

"He was a much esteemed resident of New Britain," she wrote. "Funeral services were first conducted in the Center Church there from thence he was brought to the church in Rocky Hill attended by citizens, Free Masons and representatives of several military companies -- a large procession. His wife is heart-broken. Their attachment to each other was unbounded -- he was all to her. Such a sad, hopeless, despairing countenance I never saw.

"There are two children -- dear little creatures the eldest five years of age -- for them only his memory lives." (2)

Sadly, only five days before the 150th anniversary of his death, Jarvis Blinn is dishonored at Rocky Hill's Center Cemetery, where he was buried. His tombstone is broken, the top portion lying in the grass just behind the base. Visible on the bottom portion are these weather-worn words:

Sept. 17, 1862

(1) Hartford Courant, Sept. 27, 1862, Page 2
(2) Letter from Augusta Griswold to John Morris, Oct. 19, 1862.

Today, the top portion of  Jarvis Blinn's tombstone lies in the grass behind the base.

1 comment:

  1. looks like time is the culprit and thankfully not vandals. these can be fixed.