Monday, November 04, 2013

Antietam: A tour of house where Newton Manross grew up

16th Connecticut Captain Newton Manross, who was killed at the Battle of Antietam,
grew up in this house in Bristol, Conn. Ken Hintz bought the house on 

Washington Street in 1974. (CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE.)
The exterior of the house looks much like it did when Manross lived here.
The tin roof on the house is original, according to Hintz, who had it painted red.
A wartime image of Newton Manross, captain of
Company K in the 16th Connecticut.
The beautiful wood floors in the house where 16th Connecticut Captain Newton Manross grew up in Bristol, Conn., are original but have settled in places over time. Put a marble on the floor of one side of a room and it might quickly roll to the other, Ken Hintz said with a chuckle during an impromptu guided tour of his house for me and Civil War author Stephen Recker on Saturday afternoon. Hintz and his wife bought the historic property on Washington Street in 1974, adding over the years modern amenities such as a clay tennis court and a swimming pool as they raised their family. But the Greek Revival house, part of which dates to 1746, still has many of its original features, including a bee-hive oven, stone fireplaces and even a a tin roof that is now painted bright red.

Newton was one of nine children of well-known Bristol clockmaker Elisha Manross and his wife, Maria. (Two of
Manross' brothers, John and Eli, also served in the Union army.) Newton, who graduated from Yale with a degree in geology in 1850, was quite inquisitive even as a youth. Taking refuge from the rain during a fishing trip near his home, he discovered what he thought was a white stone on the floor of cavern. Upon closer inspection, the "stone" proved to be a skull of an Indian. Manross returned the next day, unearthed the entire skeleton of the Indian and took the skull to his father's shop, where it was used as a grotesque holder for small parts for clock movements.

A 37-year-old professor at Amherst College in Massachusetts, Manross enlisted in the Union army on July 22, 1862, excitedly telling his wife Charlotte "you can better afford to have a country without a husband than a husband without a country."  A little more than a month later, he was commissioned captain of Company K of the 16th Connecticut, comprised mostly of men from prosperous Hartford County towns. So well-respected was Manross that he was referred to as “the father of the company” by one soldier.  Another soldier recalled how Manross earned the respect of his men by carrying the muskets of three soldiers (and a drum) while on the march from Washington to Maryland.

Sadly, Manross was killed by cannon fire at Antietam, the first battle of the war for the 16th Connecticut. (See my interactive panorama of where Manross fell at Antietam here.) His death had a profound effect on the men in his regiment. “The loss of our Captain was keenly felt by every member of the Company, for he not only recruited the men, mostly from the town of Bristol, Conn., but he cared for his men constantly,” wrote Pvt. George Robbins of the 16th Connecticut. “They felt for him almost a filial affection.” Manross is buried near his mother, father and wife in Forestville Cemetery in Bristol, about a mile and a half from his boyhood home.

Ken Hintz owns a clock that was made by Elisha Manross, Newton Manross' father.
Elisha was a well-known clockmaker in Bristol, Conn.

No comments:

Post a Comment