It is almost laughable to see the anxiety with which the stragglers from the various from the various regiments have been rushing back to their commands within the last few days, and the eagerness with which they put in their excuses. (Capt. Samuel Fiske, Sept. 21, 1863)
Executions for desertion throughout the Army of the Potomac did cause many men to return to the ranks, but many more never did. At the end of September, 1863, the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry carried the names of nine hundred men on its active duty roster, but only five hundred and eighty officers and enlisted men were present for duty.
Major Theodore Ellis (pictured at left) received two promotions in quick succession, to lieutenant-colonel on September 22 and to colonel on October 11. Captain Samuel Moore of Company F was promoted to major on September 22 and to lieutenant-colonel on October 11. Captain Carpenter of Company C was transferred to the Invalid Corps, a result of nagging wounds received at Fredericksburg, Finally, Captain Davis of Company H was called to account for his frequent lapses in judgement, and dismissed from the army for neglect of duty at a conscript camp near New Haven.
Barely a year in the field, none of the ten companies of the Fourteenth was commanded by its original captain. With the exceptions of Moore and Davis, the other eight were either killed, died of wounds, or discharged for medical reasons. Charles Page wrote in his History of the Fourteenth, “This may have given rise to the very common adage in the regiment that “if one belonged to the Fourteenth Connecticut he would either meet death or promotion within a year.”
Fiction Connection: 1st Lt. James Simpson of Company D would be promoted to captain of Company C on October 20th. In An Eye for Glory the new captain will, during the coming months, learn to rely heavily on the knowledge and skill of Sergeant Michael Palmer, who is now one of the few remaining “old soldiers.”