Northern hopes for an early end to the war died along with thousands of its soldiers during the spring of 1862. The carnage at Shiloh opened the nation’s eyes to the bloody cost that would be exacted if the Union was to be restored. Stonewall Jackson’s brilliant campaign in the Shenandoah Valley sent Union forces in the area into full retreat, and while Union Gen. McClellan’s Army of the Potomac did approach to the outskirts of Richmond, this advance was checked and quickly reversed by the Army of Northern Virginia, under its new commander, Gen. Robert E. Lee in the Seven Days campaign.
In a letter dated June 28, 1862, eighteen Union state governors argued in favor of recruiting more volunteers to end the rebellion and restore the Union. On July 1, President Abraham Lincoln issued this brief four-sentence response:
“GENTLEMEN:–Fully concurring in the wisdom of the views expressed to me in so patriotic a manner by you, in the communication of the twenty-eighth day of June, I have decided to call into the service an additional force of 300,000 men. I suggest and recommend that the troops should be chiefly of infantry. The quota of your State would be ______. I trust that they may be enrolled without delay, so as to bring this unnecessary and injurious civil war to a speedy and satisfactory conclusion. An order fixing the quotas of the respective States will be issued by the War Department to-morrow.”
Of the 300,000 volunteers requested, Connecticut was asked to supply 7,145, organized in six regiments, the first of which would be the Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry. The Fourteenth would see action at the front, rather than serve token duty at the Camp of Instruction, as originally intended.
On July 3, 1862, only two days after President Lincoln called for 300,000 more volunteers, Governor William Buckingham issued a stirring appeal to the people of Connecticut:
“CITIZENS OF CONNECTICUT: You are again called upon to rally to the support of the Government. In the name of our common country, I call upon you to enroll your names for the formation of six or more regiments of infantry to be used in suppressing the rebellion. Our troops may be held in check and our sons die on the battle-field — but the cause of civil liberty must be advanced — the supremacy of the Government must be maintained. Prompt and decisive action will be economy in men and money. By our delay the safety of our armies, even of the nation, may be imperiled. The rebellion, contending with the desperation of a hopeless and wicked cause, must be met with equal energy. Close your manufactories and workshops — turn aside from your farms and your business — leave for awhile your families and your homes — meet face to face the enemies of your liberties. Haste and you will rescue many noble men now struggling against superior numbers, and speedily secure the blessings of peace and good government.”
Recruiting posters were displayed all around the state. Enlistment rallies were held in many cities and towns and featured some of the state”s most prominent men. Rousing speeches raised the public”s patriotic passions. Although more than a year in the past, the treacherous Rebel attack upon Fort Sumter was a common theme.
From May 22, the day on which enlistment for the regiment began, until the middle of July, the Fourteenth Connecticut had only enlisted about two hundred and fifty men. But the recruiting efforts were effective, and the regimental roll would be filled with over a thousand names.
The spring of 1862 was a time of great optimism in the north. It was widely believed the war would soon end and the War Department ended enlistments in all Union states on April 3. But that was before the bloody campaigns of 1862 had hardly begun. The Battle of Shiloh (April 6-7) and the reversal suffered in Virginia by Union forces during the Seven Days (late June), foretold of more such desperate struggles to come.
The 14th’s poisition at Gettysburg
The small state of Connecticut had already sent over 13,000 men to the Union armies. The last regiment raised, the Thirteenth, had been in service only since March. However, in May 1862, the War Department asked for one more regiment from Connecticut to go to a new Camp of Instruction at Anapolis, Maryland. On May 22, Governor Buckingham appealed for volunteers for the new Fourteenth Regiment of Infantry, to serve for three years or the duration of the war. Colonel Dwight Morris was given command of the new regiment.
The young men wanted to see action, but most thought the war would end before they ever made to the field of battle. Also, the Camp of Instruction never came into being. Just a month later, the site was being used as a camp for paroled Union prisoners, and its name was changed to Camp Parole. As a result, the ranks of the Fourteenth Regiment were slow to fill up.