ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY YEARS AGO YESTERDAY the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry got a new chaplain. He was a Baptist pastor from New Britain named Emmons P. Bond. The regiment had been without a chaplain for eleven months and had to rely upon chaplains from other regiments to fill the void. For related reading see my post of April 18, 2014.
The regiment’s first chaplain was Henry S. Stevens from Cromwell, also a Baptist pastor. The photo at left was taken may years after the war. Stevens was very active in the life of the regiment, both during the war and after. He was mustered into the regiment along with the men that filled the ranks on August 21, 1862. He served faithfully during the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, Bristow Station, and Mine Run. He was discharged on December 22, 1863.
Stevens had a tender heart toward every soldier. He followed them into battle, prayed over them as they lay dying and comforted the wounded. He visited the sick and wounded in the hospital and sometimes presented them with Bibles that he personally inscribed for them. (One of those Bibles still survives and can be seen here.) Chaplains were often given one year’s leave from their congregations to serve in the army, but Stevens extended his leave to sixteen months. He enjoyed the camaraderie of the army and was the kind of man that could take a practical joke.
After the war, Chaplain Stevens was instrumental in founding the “Society of the Fourteenth Connecticut Regiment.” He also assisted greatly in the writing and preserving the regiment’s history. In July, 1883, he traveled to Gettysburg along with 78 members and friends of the Fourteenth for the twentieth anniversary of that great battle. On July 3, at two o’clock in the afternoon, the Fourteenth’s monument beside the rock wall was dedicated. Then Chaplain Stevens gave a passionate and memorable address to the gathered crowd.
Chaplain Bond was a different sort of man. Very little is known about him. From the history of the regiment we learn that Bond was born in Canterbury, CT and attended Brown University. For ministerial training he attended Madison University Theological Seminary (now Colgate University in Hamilton, NY). Upon graduation in 1851 he accepted the pastorate of the Baptist Church of New Britain, CT. Bond served as chaplain of the Fourteenth Connecticut from November 13, 1864 until April 26, 1865. The history concludes with this statement: “Chaplain Bond was scholarly and refined and was much esteemed in the communities where he labored. His service with the regiment covered so brief a period, that but few of the men became personally acquainted with him.”