Who Were These Men?

In his history of the Fourteenth, Charles Page wrote: “No Connecticut regiment ever took to the front a more noble representation of the best elements of the state than did the Fourteenth. Many of the men had already become moving forces in the social, religious, commercial and industrial activities of the state. It was indeed a regiment from the state at large, a regiment of the people.”

While it is true that men from 87 of the state’s 163 towns were mustered into the regiment before it left Hartford, nine of those cities and towns supplied over two-thirds of the enlistments. Middletown sent 126 men with 93 in Company B. Waterbury sent 112 with 88 of them in Company C. Vernon sent 84 with 75 of them in Company D. Rounding out the top nine towns represented were New Britain (68), Madison (65), New London (62), Bridgeport (61), Hartford (52), and Norwich (46).

One soldier in Company A, David H. Farrar, hailed from Harrisville, Rhode Island, which is in the northwest corner of that state. Another soldier came a bit further – from China. Joseph Pierce has the distinction of being the only Chinese man to serve in the Army of the Potomac. There are several variations on the story of how he came to be in Connecticut and how he got his American name, and rather than recounting them here, you may find out more about this unique citizen soldier here (text article) or here (article with photos).

Nearly four of every five of these original members of the Fighting Fourteenth would never return home. It was a common thing during the Civil War for companies of infantry to be raised by a town or a county, and while this brought a degree of comradeship and local pride to their company, it is easy to imagine the profound sorrow of a single town if its company suffered greatly on the field of battle.

Fiction Connection: Only four men from the town of Naugatuck enlisted in the 14th before it left Hartford, three in Company C, and one in Company I. In An Eye for Glory, I placed four men from Naugatuck in Company C, and all four are fictional characters.

 

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