Journey to the Front

By foot, by sea, and by rail. That’s how the more than one thousand new recruits of the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry travelled from Hartford to the seat of war in Arlington, VA. To drive that distance today would take about six hours, but in 1862, it took four days

They left Camp Foote on Monday, August 25, and marched in fine order to the city dock on the Connecticut river.. Their new colors proudly led the way; the band playing martial tunes; crowds of family members and well wishers cheered loudly, as these men began their. Two river steamers carried the men downriver to Long Island sound, then west toward New York, leaving the Connecticut shoreline behind as night fell. Charles Page lamented, “Alas, how many were never permitted to look upon it again.” At New York early Tuesday morning, relief volunteers boarded the ships and gave the men food. Then the regiment transferred to a large transport ship that carried them across the harbor and past Staten Island to Elizabeth, NJ, where they boarded railroad cars bound for Harrisburg, PA.

Page recorded this incident: “At Easton, Penna., occurred the first casualty to the regiment. When the train stopped, which was upon a trestle above the street, 2nd Lt. Frederick E. Shalk of Company E left the train for a moment and in attempting to again step upon the car, lost his footing and fell some thirty feet to the street, striking upon his head. He was taken up insensible and was left behind for medical treatment, but recovered soon after and rejoined his regiment, doing valiant service.”

Harrisburg was reached Wednesday afternoon. There was a long, hot delay while the army decided where to send the green regiment. Finally, the cars moved again, and after another long, slow ride, full of starts and stops, they arrived in Baltimore the next afternoon.

A fine dinner was had at the Soldiers’ relief Building. Afterward the men boarded a line of cattle cars that started for Washington at about nine o’clock that night and arrived at about four in the morning. They quickly pitched their tents and slept on the ground.

It has been reported by chroniclers of the history of the Fourteenth Connecticut that they were the first of President Lincoln”s “300,000 more” to arrive in the nation’s capital.

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