14th C. V. Regimental Reminiscences

of the War of the Rebellion


By Henry P. Goddard

Late Captain Fourteenth Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers.




Mrs. Sidney J. Cowen


Hartford, Conn.,


A lineal descendant of Gen. Putnam, niece of a soldier, sister

of a soldier, and a devoted friend of all true soldiers,

I dedicate this brief memorial of a time which

she has not forgotten, in token that

the soldiers of that time have

not forgotten her.


C. W. Church, Steam Printer,

Middletown, Conn.








   The Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was mustered into service August 23d, 1862, when it numbered 1,015 men; 711 recruits were added to its numbers during its term of service, and it was mustered out May 31st, 1865, having a record of twenty-six general engagements besides the long siege of Richmond, and having suffered a total of 788 casualties in the line of killed, died of wounds, died of disease, “missing in action,” and discharged for disability, leaving but 234 names on the rolls at date of muster-out. Twenty of its commissioned officers were among the victims enumerated above. This is its war record.


   Since the war the survivors have gathered on the 17th of September in each year – the anniversary of Antietam battle, where we had our baptism of fire – and enjoyed a pleasant social reunion.


   At the reunion in Middletown, September 17th, 1877, the substance of the following reminiscences was read. By the courtesy of gen. Dwight Morris, the original commander of the Fourteenth, and Ex-Lieut. Gov. Benj. Douglas of Middletown, the author is enabled to send a copy to every surviving member of the regiment, with the hope that it may serve to recall pleasant memories of “the brave days of old.”


H. P. G. 

Hartford, Conn., Oct. 5th, 1877.








   Every fourteenth man will recall with pleasure the merry days at Camp Foote, Hartford, where we were first enlightened and rather surprised to discover that butter and milk were not government rations, that each man was not allowed a wall tent to himself, that the only horses provided infantry-men were of wood, with pretty acute edges at that. In those days the raw recruits would present arms to a sergeant major they had never met before and say “Halloa Sam” to captains they had always known. At this time Capt. Simpson drank nothing stronger than lemonade, a habit that he kept up throughout his term of service, as Major Tibetts will attest if he remembers the night Simpson came back from Libby prison and “went for him” with a bayonet until Dr. Dudley announced that the corpse was ready, when that famous mock funeral was held without the aid of the chaplain, whose assistance we hardly dared to ask under all circumstances.


   Ah! those two months at camp Foote; how slowly our ranks filled up at first, and how rapidly toward the last, under the impetus of Lincoln’s call for “Three Hundred Thousand more,” until at our last dress parade we turned out a full thousand strong. What crowds of visitors we had from Hartford, and what tender words they bestowed upon us; among those who came oftenest was the great war Governor, the courtly head of the house of Buckingham, the stern, but soldierly, Gen. Dan Tyler, who except Gen. Dix, was the oldest West Pointer who served in the Union Army, and who still caries his years, and honors, with erect head, and unbent frame; the beautiful, and accomplished, Mrs. Senator Dixon, and her daughters, both of whom, later, gave most of their time while in Washington, to hospital service. What a friendly rivalry we had with the 16th Connecticut, who were encamped next to us; as to which should first be filled up, and off for the war, and how we cheered them when we met them thereafter once, and once only, during the war, on the morning of Antietam battle.


   At last came the day of departure, when we marched down the streets of the Charter Oak city, which was all alive with flags and the waving handkerchiefs in the hands of her fair daughters, whose eyes filled with tears as our magnificent band – afterwards pronounced by Gen. Hooker, second to none in the army of Potomac – played “The girl I left behind me,” leading us to sob, some, for the girls we had left, others, because we hadn’t any girls to leave behind.


   Then came the sail the ever beautiful Connecticut, when all Middletown, throbbing with loyalty, turned out to cheer us as we passed. The people of the Forest city loyal then, loyal now, and loyal evermore, demonstrated it by sending their own best blood to the gallant regiment, with the injunction of the Spartan women of old to return with their shields or on their shields: to this people I appeal to-day to know if your braves did not obey that high behest. When you recall how we sent back to you on their shields the bodies of Gibbons, of Crosby, of Canfield, of Huxham, Brooks and many others, I know how your tearful eyes will testify to their patriotism, integrity and valor. Right here I may be pardoned for paying personal tribute to one of Middletown’s private citizens Hon. Benj. Douglas, for the generous support that he gave to the soldiers and their families all through the war. Here in his own home the facts are so well known that it is not necessary to rehearse them, but those of us who saw his tears when he visited us after Antietam and saw our depleted rank, want to thank him now for the comfort he gave us then, and for the courage with which he labored in the dark days of the war.


   As we passed out of the Connecticut that night, I remember standing with Johnny Broatch on the after deck of the boat, for a last look at the dear old state, whose good health we drank, emptying a half pint flask that a worthy relative had filled, telling me that unless I was badly wounded it ought to last me through the war.


   How pleased was Col. Morris as he stood by old Gen. Wool’s side as we marched through Baltimore, to hear that old veteran of four wars, exclaim, “A splendid Regiment, not one drunken man in the ranks; too good a regiment to be sent anywhere but to the front.”


   Do you remember how pleased we were to go into that “permanent camp of instruction,” at Washington, where we were to spend the winter, but how before we stayed twelve hours we received marching orders, ere muskets had ever been in the hands of the men, and we had to spend our only night in the camp engaged in unpacking the arms-chests, and issuing muskets and ammunition for the march to Fort Ethan Allen. We spent a week at that fort, while the reverberations of the cannon of the second battle of Bull Run, and the red face of Col. Doubleday, who appeared every few moments to tell Col. Morris that a fight was imminent kept us on the qui vive. Here it was that the torn and tattered veterans of the army of the Potomac, fresh from the swamps and battles of the Peninsula campaign, excited our wondering interest as they marched by on their way to the front. But how they repaid our deprecatory looks at the condition of their clothes and accoutrements with their jeering “Hulloa children! Poor boys, dark blue pants, soft bread three times a week, three hundred miles from home and ain’t got but one mother apiece.”


   It was here that the officers of Company K had occasion to find fault with their company cook for being so tardy in getting breakfast for the boys. The cook, an ex-Methodist elder from Norwich, pleaded in extenuation that it was his invariable habit to give an hour to his devotion after reveille. “By George”, said Capt. (now Gen.) Coit “if you can’t get time to cook you had better stop praying.” “Or pray that you may learn to cook,” added Sergt. (now Lieut.) Charley Austin. It was here too that the Madison boys (Co. G.) concluded that steel plated “bullet proof” vests were too heavy a load to carry, and dumped the lot with which they had been provided by friends at home, into the Potomac.


   The Maryland campaign followed in which the Sergeant Major established his reputation as a vocalist by his one song, which ran somewhat after this fashion: “Reveille at three a.m., and march at early dawn.” How the company commanders used to “cuss drefful” when they heard that song resounding through the company streets at the close of a long day’s march in that sweltering weather. In this campaign the 14th was for the first time brigaded – with the 108th New York and 130th Pennsylvania. Col. Dwight Morris of the 14th, was assigned to the command of the brigade of 3,000 green troops, and, with a single aid, Adj. Ellis of the 14th, who acted as assistant Adj. Gen’l., and but two orderlies, so handled the command all through the campaign as to win for it the commendation of that battle-scarred veteran Gen. E. N. Sumner, who then commanded the 2d army corps, in which we served throughout the war.


It was in this campaign that two privates of the 108th New York of his brigade were one day brought up before Colonel Morris for sheep stealing. The corpses of their victims were on their backs when captured. They were ordered to throw them down, and evidence of guilt being conclusive the men were sent off to the corps provost marshal. “Johnny,” the Col.’s cook, at once seized the mutton saying, “Will you have this for breakfast, Colonel?” Col. Morris quickly turned his back, while Lieut. Col. Perkins turning sharply to the offender said “Don’t you know better than to ask such a question? Take the carcass away,” and then soto voce to the sergeant major, “Goddard, keep your eye on that mutton and see that the cook has it well done for an early breakfast for the field and staff mess.”


Perhaps there wasn’t much foraging in those days. Why the right and left guides, (Ned Smith Co. B., and Fred Taylor of Co. A.)  did nothing but “confiscate” things, and “Pony” Prior of Co. B., was not much better. Col. Broatch will recall that intensely hot day when Ned Smith brought to us as a result of his day’s labors only a can of condensed “Tom and Jerry.”


Some of us recall that scene on the night of battle of South Mountain when Lieut. Lee smelt whiskey in the air and Capts. Davis, Carpenter and Hart fell out of the ranks and followed up the smell till they found a distillery a mile away. Those of us who had answered to their names at the roll call made after dark that night were rewarded when these officers returned bringing full canteens with them. There were so many dead bodies on the field that night that the whiskey was in demand as a preventive.

On the night of the 15th of Sept. we bivouacked at Keedysville in a field full of pigs. No sooner were arms stacked than the whole command went pig-hunting. Lt. Col. Perkins at once sent word to company commanders that the animals must not be harmed as they belonged to a good Unionist. When I delivered this order to Capt. Gibbons, he repeated it to the non-commissioned officers, who in turn repeated it to the men. Corporal Harry Lloyd, ex-telegraph operator had already captured a fat little porker, but buttoning his blouse over him shouted. “Boys do you hear, the captain says ‘Let those pigs alone.’” “Wee, wee,” went the little pig under the blouse. Punching him in the head Harry muttered “keep quiet a minute can’t you?” than aloud, “Boys, let those pigs alone.” “Wee, wee,” repeated the porker. Harry looked at me in despair and then muttered “Come down to B company mess to supper in an hour.” I went back to headquarters, reported that the order was delivered, and an hour later was enjoying a good supper with Capt. Gibbons and Lieuts. Broatch, Lucas and Hale, and if Harry Lloyd and Jim Cairnes (that thief of the world) did get it up, no questions were asked concerning the roast pork and the roast chickens that were furnished us. Poor Lloyd was mortally wounded at Fredericksburg and died soon after. I saw him after the battle and offered any assistance. His reply was that all he wanted was for me to fill his pipe, as his right arm was useless. “I shall have to be a left handed operator,” he added with a smile.


My reminiscences have come down to that beautiful day when

“Up from the meadows rich with corn,

Clear in the cool September morn,”

the sun arose upon Antietam creek and the thousands of foemen encamped on either bank of it, destined ere nightfall to be engaged in one of the great battles of the war of the rebellion, a battle of which we may say at least, that Connecticut has no reason to blush for the conduct of her regiments engaged therein, raw recruits though so many of them were. Our list of losses in that battle tells its own story, as does the fact that throughout the whole contest the Fourteenth never retreated, either with or without orders, and was in the extreme advance line when the battle was ended. It is on the anniversary of this battle that we have now gathered for twelve years, and hope to gather annually as long as there are any of us left who can walk, talk, or shake hands.


   The heroic and many of the pathetic incidents of Antietam fight are so well known to all, that I pass them by for the nonce and to-day dwell mostly on its humorous incidents for scarce ever yet was a fight in which any Yankee was engaged but what he could find some food for mirth even in the shadow of impending death. There for instance was Lt. Gaplin, then Orderly Sergeant of Co. B, complaining that the confederates sent their bullets so close to his head while he lay in that famous plowed field, that he couldn’t make out his morning report with any comfort or precision. Ah those morning reports, how they bothered poor Walt Lucas, then acting adjutant, who wasn’t much used to that sort of work, and who said to me, when Adjutant Ellis, then assistant adjutant general, sent back his consolidated report a third time for correction, “Sergeant Major I will give you a box of cigars if you tell me how to account for these fifteen men that my report omits.” “Let’s put them down as ‘Missing in action,’ said I. “Done,” said Walt, and the report went back all right at last. But that night was Walt’s last night as adjutant, for when at dress parade he interpreted Gen. Couch’s “Circular,” to Brigade Commanders, to read “Circular Brigade Commanders,” that finished him, for the excuse that with Gen. French’s round belly in mind he supposed generals might be spoken of as “circular” didn’t avail.


   It was in the Antietam battle that I was talking with Corporal Fred Beebe of “B” company, when a bullet struck him in the leg. Some of us picked him up at once, when I felt a strange curiosity inspired by an article on gun shot wounds, that I had read the day before, and inquired “Fred, how does it feel?” – In his pain, Beebe turned to me and growled out, “That’s a d----- pretty question to ask a man at such a time as this.” He was borne off the field, and soon after discharged for disability, and from that day to this I can get him to give no other answer to any question I ask him. It was in this fight that Capt. Tubb’s colored boy, Tyler, “skeedaddled,” reappearing three days after to excuse himself, on the plea that when shot, and shell, began to fall about him, he thought every hair on his head a bugle, and every bugle playing “Home, Sweet, Home.”

   How gritty Lieut. Comstock held up the regimental colors that day after poor Tom Mills was killed, how neatly Gibbons flanked a lot of rebels in the Roulette house, and how coolly some of B’s boys climbed Roulette’s apple trees and shook down the fruit while under infantry fire, and how conspicuous was Col. Morris on his calico horse, how active Lt. Col. Perkins, how cool Major Clark and Adj. Ellis, and how ponderous Capt. Hammond perspired with heat.


   Then came the crossing of the Potomac and entrance into Harper’s Ferry. How appropriately our band played that day “Away down South in Dixie” as we entered the river, “Jordan am a hard road to Travel” as we plunged about on the stones and railroad iron with which the bottom of the river was strewn, and “John Brown’s Soul is Marching On” as we climbed up the further bank into the historic village. Who will ever forget the miseries of that camp on Bolivar Heights with the enemies encountered in the deserted tents of D’Utassey’s Germans that we dug up and used, or how long a struggle we had with those greybacks, almost as persistent, and hard to get rid of as the Confederates in our front. Here it was that officers and men of the 14th, destitute of baggage, from red tape negligence that it vexes us to recall even now, used each one to wash his only shirt in the Potomac or Shenandoah, and sit on the bank au naturel, waiting for them to dry.


   In our next change of base what a view that was from Snicker’s Gap, with our campfires of both armies in view as they raced down each side of the Blue Ridge, in route to the Rappahannock.


   Who that was there will ever forget that Thanksgiving dinner at Belleplain, held the day after Thanksgiving, owing to the fact that the foraging committee, Capt. Davis, Bronson and Carpenter, got the little boat, in which they had gone out, stuck in the mud and had to go ashore across the creek, and wait twelve hours, till Capt. Bronson could lighten her by eating half her cargo of mutton and persimmons. The bill of fare of that dinner was mutton broth, roast mutton, roast duck, and hard tack, with Sprenkle’s jumbles, persimmons and hot whiskey punch for desert, Sergt. Webster was caterer and as usual, drank more punch and told more unmatchable stories than anyone else.


   What a day it was when we marched back to Falmouth in a blinding storm, and pitched our camp in a lot where the wood was so green and wet that it was almost impossible to get any fires started.


   Then came that great day at Fredericksburg, of which a London’s Time correspondent, who sat by Gen. Lee’s side and watched the charges of the 2d corps, wrote that “no man on earth can be braver than those who thrice essayed to carry Marye’s Heights.” The vacancies in our ranks that night, alas never to be filled, attest the truth of his assertation.


   It was while waiting to charge these heights that Capt. Townsend was first to descry a balloon ascending from our army headquarters at Falmouth – across the Rappahannock – and noting that a rebel gun was turned upon it shouted “they are firing at the balloon.” “Good God,” said Davis, “Townsend is afraid they were firing at the balloon. I should think somebody was firing at us.” As we were at the time under a terrific fire, the point of the joke was clearly seen, and in the face of impending death a shout of laughter went down the ranks.


   A moment later the order came to charge, there was no laughter then, but grave, earnest faces, as we attempted to scale those heights, under a cross fire of grape and canister, that actually crushed the bones of men, like glass. Here young Stanley and Canfield, were killed, and Capt. Gibbons, - who the night before read to us out of a Bible found in the city, - and poor Comes were mortally wounded. What a picture was that when our gallant Lt. Col. Perkins, fell at the head of his command, where with drawn sword, he was crying, “Forward 14th.” His wound was a bad one, but not fatal, and it was a singular coincidence, that two of those who bore him off the field (Capt. Murdock and the writer) were bearers at his funeral in New Britain, just twelve years later.


   Reminiscences of this battle alone would take more time than I have for the story of the whole of our term of service. But the fact that fifteen out of eighteen officers and fully fifty percent of the men engaged were killed or wounded, tells the story of that day, of which Gen. French remarked as we came off the field that it was “---- hot day for the 13th of December.”


   How strange it was to note that all through the battle, the tomb of Mary, mother of Washington, was uninjured by shot or shell, and was even the resort of a few snow birds, who seemed to mind the great strife about them as little, as the dead woman, there buried.


   What a winter it was that followed in camp at Falmouth with no field officer, and Capts. Davis and Bronson alternating in command of the regiment, for the former could not hold command for a week without getting into some scrape, that usually led to his being put under arrest. But it was no use to court-martial him, for his legal training and his habit of getting the whole court on a spree the night before the verdict, led the judge advocate of the Division to say that it was easier to catch a weasel asleep than to convict Capt. Davis. Ah, what punches Fred Doten used to mix that winter, as we gathered in each other’s Sibleys:

“When every officer seemed a friend, and every friend a brother.”


   It was at some of these gatherings that Capt. Lee used to give swan-like imitations and that “G’s” officers used to trot out little “Uncas” the stuttering teamster as a spiritual medium, who used to go into trances and therein deliver addresses on didactic subjects but who got mad when Lt. Fred Seymour asked him to take a drink in his spiritual not material character. Qr. Mr. Dibble used to say that when Uncas got mad at his mules he could swear in the most unspiritual manner without stuttering at all.


   The thick woods and bloody carnage of Chancellorsville, next sweep past in the review with the figure of Capt. Bronson bravely dying from his wounds in the fierce fight, showing courage that. As he once told me, overcame his natural timidity solely from his faith in the Lord of All.


   Gettysburg comes next, with its grand reputation as the battle where at last the tide of invasion was finally and forever stayed, and where, as a Southern friend put it the fight was “Fredericksburg over again but with the boot on the other leg.” How grandly Gen. Hancock rode up and down the lines that day with his stockings down over his shoes; how nobly Sgt. Major (now Major) Hincks labored as he captured prisoners and battle flags; and how faithful until death was Corporal Huxham of Middletown, shot dead in his tracks on the picket line; how coolly Lt. Sam Scranton shot a rebel in the doorway of that troublesome house as he would have shot a squirrel on his father’s farm; how Capt. Moore and Lts. Fiske and Tibbitts fought “F” company, and how the latter swore at the Johnnies for wounding him in his sound arm. But the story of “How the 14th fought at Gettysburg” is a matter of history.


   What a crowd of officers were scattered through the North in the following summer with but six on duty and twenty-one absent, sick, wounded or detacthed, while the Qr. Mr. was reading “Queechy” with those pretty Misses George, at Warrenton, and Col. Moore having the band serenade them with their favorite “Blue Juanita.” A crowd of us at Baltimore with Lieut. Fiske at our head, used to tell the Baltimoreans that 14 C. V. on our caps, meant 14th Cherokee. Here it was that one of our boys got so sweet on a Baltimore belle that he grew irregular at his meals, so one day Capt. Simpson sent all his luggage by an express over to his sweetheart’s, excusing himself by explaining that he thought our comrade had changed his boarding house, he was there so much and at his hotel so little. At the same time Capt. Carpenter was masquerading on crutches at Washington, and Captain Townsend running a German hotel on Pennsylvania avenue in the same city; Captain Snagg was on provost duty in Baltimore, charged with arresting officers out after 9 p. m., who did not have the countersign. Whenever he hauled a 14th man he would halt his man with a great show of authority and then demand the countersign, which he at the same time whispered soto voce to his friend, who found it easy to give it.


   Then came the campaigns up and down from Washington to the Rapidan, which Captain Sam Fiske (Dunn Browne) used to call the trips of Meade and Lee’s express line.


   That winter we spent in camp at the foot of Stony Mountain. It here that the 3d corps ran a picket line between us and the rest of the 2d corps, till Gen. Warren sent Gen. French word that if he didn’t withdraw it he would give the job to the whole 2d corps. Gen. French withdrew it. Here the ladies (God bless them always,) gladdened our hearts, and all of us envied the happy married officers who had their wives in camp. I think Mrs. Captain Wadhams, who is with us to-day, said to me at her departure, that she could bear testimony to the men of the 14th – that she had not seen an offensive act nor heard an offensive word in the six weeks she had spent in their camp. Here Colonel Ellis established his West Point Academy, which the officers deemed a hard old spot at first, but long since have confessed its usefulness.


   Mrs. Wadhams has told me to-day another story of the camp in Stony Mountain. She was awakened one night by the groans of a prisoner, whom Capt. Rockwood, (officer of the day) had tied up for some offense; while peeping out of her tent to learn the cause of the sounds, she saw Mrs. Rockwood issue from her tent and untie the man. When the captain discovered her at it and demanded the reason. Mrs. R. replied, “That man has been tied up long enough,” and Rockwood succumbed. What a pet we all made of little Jessie Wadhams, the four year old daughter of Lieut. Wadhams, who losing her own father in battle a few months later, was adopted by the regiment, and is right welcome here to-day, as its “daughter,” who we shall take care, shall never want a protector while any 14th veteran survives.


   Then came that too little known fight at Morton’s Ford, where the 14th under Lt. Col. Moore, covered itself with laurels, and where Captain Fred Doten was immensely disgusted to find himself started for Richmond alone, and we were all sorry to lose our handsome little captain with the golden locks, braided staff jacket and sombre hat that made him look like one of Prince Rupert’s cavaliers.


   Here was held that brilliant 2d corps ball, to which Colonel Ellis brought six blooming young ladies, keeping the prettiest of the lot for his own partner in every dance, to the immense disgust of the two young staff officers who had furnished transportation for the party – Captains Pelton and Goddard. But it view of the fact that the Colonel’s partner that night is now his partner for life, we have forgiven him and have each of us gone and done likewise, leaving Captain Frank Morgan – if I mistake not – the only bachelor out of the whole line and staff. May he too soon see the error of his ways.


   The night of that ball Captain Nickels sought permission to essay the capture of a small band of rebels who used to cross the Rapidan and have dances at a little white house on the north bank of Morten’s Ford. Alex. Hayes “always spoiling for a fight,” said, “Go,” but Gen. Warren refused permission, lest a general engagement might ensue.


   As the writer’s immediate connection with the regiment closed by his assignment to other duty ere the summer campaign of 1864-65, he will here drop his personal reminiscences, leaving to the future historian of the regiment the tale of that tremendous battle-summer of 1864, where seed was sown that was not fully reaped till the spring of 1865, when under the apple tree of Appomattox C. H. the sword of the great Southern leader was tendered to our commander-in-chief, whom we all love to remember as the great soldier of the war, U. S. Grant.


   The 14th was finally mustered out on the 31st of May, 1865, when it numbered but 234 officers and men on the rolls, out of the 1726 who had served under its banner.


   Comrades: the great drama of the war, in which we had the high privilege to be among the actors, is ended. Our record is made up; and, I say it in all reverence, we have reason to thank God for permitting us to have the opportunity to serve in such a regiment as the Fourteenth Connecticut, and in such a cause – a cause that has its fruition at least in a fully restored Union and in the enfranchisement of four millions of human beings. Let us thank Him that so many of us survive to clasp hands together here to-day; thank Him for health and happiness; thank Him for the noble record that our dead left behind them as an heritage to us and to all free peoples. Over all and above all, let us thank Him that at last those who wore the blue and those who wore the grey carry the same grand old banner of the Union, acknowledge the same chief magistrate, and while each tenderly cherish the memories and decorate the graves of their own loved ones who fell on either side, whether their graves be in South land or in North land, under the palmetto or under the pine, both now acknowledge a common country, a common government, “of the people, for the people,” and a common God who ruleth over all.