Vernon Civil War Museum Acquires Another Chapter Of Connecticut Wartime History Worn By Killed Soldier – Hartford Courant

The sweat-stained pants of a Connecticut artillery corporal who was killed as an infantryman are the latest piece of the state’s Civil War history at the New England Civil War Museum and Research Center in Vernon.

James R. Baldwin, a Winsted from a family of watchmakers, died at the Battle of Cold Harbor in Virginia on June 1, 1864. His blue woolen trousers are the latest acquisition from the newly renovated museum, which is dedicated to detailing Connecticut history. role in the War of the Great Rebellion.

“It represents what the museum is,” said curator Dan Hayden. “We try to bring out the stories and the humanity of ordinary people from the Civil War era.”

The pants are in a bespoke case and will be on display with other exhibits this weekend. The museum’s opening hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.

A descendant of Baldwin heard about the museum from an article in The Courant last year and decided to donate the long-stored pants, Hayden said. Baldwin likely left the pants and other possessions behind when General Ulysses S. Grant ordered artillery units away from the defenses of Washington, D.C., and sent them south as infantry essential.

The unit actually started the war like the 19th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, composed mainly of Litchfield County men. They were recruited in 1861 and initially served primarily in garrison in Washington. Their designation was changed to artillery in November 1863 and they left the defenses of Washington early in 1864.

By this time, Yankee strategy was progressing rapidly from the clumsy and wavering campaigns of George McClellan and Ambrose Burnside to Grant’s relentless war of attrition.

Baldwin was killed in the first wave of an attack on a Confederate parapet. It was the first day of the battle, not the much lamented massacre of June 3 that Grant would forever regret. Nevertheless, the 2nd Heavies suffered 23% casualties at Cold Harbor, their first major battle, with over 300 men killed, wounded and missing.

Baldwin’s body has never been identified. He was buried with other soldiers on the battlefield, and the remains were later moved to Cold Harbor National Cemetery, Hayden said.

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The 2nd Connecticut continued to fight at Hatcher’s Run in February 1865, at Petersburg from March 25 to April 2, and at Sailor’s Creek in April 1865, just before the surrender of General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox Court House. Of the 2,700 men who served in the unit, 143 were killed in action, 80 died of wounds, and 186 died of disease.

Baldwin’s pants have red lines on each pant leg, signifying artillery, and the thickness of the lines shows that they belonged to a corporal. The pants are in “remarkable shape,” Baldwin said.

“It’s not just a pair of pants,” he said. “There are sweat stains on it – the humanity that emanates from these things…I’m holding back tears.”

The museum – — is on the second floor of the city’s Memorial Building, 14 Park Place.

Hayden previously noted that the museum is for “Civil War historians, history buffs, and anyone else fascinated by the stories of farmers, factory workers, artisans, and other ordinary people who are gone to war as citizen soldiers during perhaps the most extraordinary period in American history.”

The museum space, part of the City Hall building completed in 1890, was originally the meeting place for the local GAR, Thomas F. Burpee Post 71.

Jesse Leavenworth can be reached at [email protected]

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