We left the boys of the Fourteenth Connecticut late in the day on August 30, 1862, when they arrived at Fort Ethan Allen. A quick search on Google Earth (Fort Ethan Allen Park, Arlington, VA) will show you the precise location of the fort, several miles northwest of Washington near the Potomac River.
The 14th Connecticut was joined with two other brand new regiments, the 108th New York and the 130th Pennsylvania, to form a new brigade, under the command of Col. Dwight Morris of the 14th Connecticut, who was the senior ranking officer in the brigade. The brigade became the Second Brigade of the Third Division (Brig. Gen. William H. French commanding), of the Second Corps (Maj. Gen. Edwin V. Sumner commanding), of the Army of the Potomac (Maj. Gen. George B. McClellan commanding).
The Fourteenth spent eight days at Fort Ethan Allen, departing on Sunday, September 7. Some manual of arms drill must have occurred during that time, but I have not found solid evidence of it. The writings of Hirst and Fiske, and other sources quoted in Page’s history, make no mention of training with the new rifles. A prevalent attitude during the early part of the war was that individual marksmanship mattered little, it was the volume of fire that counted most. This was standard strategy during the age of smoothbore muskets.
As these men would prove just ten days after leaving Fort Ethan Allen at Antietam’s sunken lane, they would maintain their formations, and maneuver and march under fire. But would they be able to shoot straight?