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In 1889, the Connecticut National Guard published a summary of the service of each Connecticut unit’s service during the Civil War called “Record of Service of Connecticut Men in the War of Rebellion, 1861 to 1865.” Here are some experts:
“Before recrossing Bull Run, and until my brigade mingled with the retreating mass, it maintained perfect freedom from panic, and at the moment I received the order for retreat, and for some time afterward, it was in as good order as in the morning on the road. Half an hour earlier I supposed the victory to be ours.” — Col. Keyes.
The Second Connecticut took part in the battle of Bull Run, July 21st, acquitting itself with great credit, maintaining its regimental formations throughout the action, and demonstrating by its coolness under fire the excellence of its material and the thoroughness of its discipline.
“General Tyler ordered me to take a battery on a height in front. The battery was strongly posted and supported by infantry and riflemen, sheltered by a building, a fence, and a hedge. My order to charge was obeyed with the utmost promptness.” – Col. Keyes
On almost every field where the cavalry of the Army of the Potomac was engaged throughout the war, the Connecticut squadron left its record of bravery, unmarred by any sign of faltering, however hotly pressed. Among the earliest in the field, it was in at the death of the rebellion.
Thirty-two of its officers and men were killed and ninety-seven wounded in battle, while of its entire number 205, or almost fifteen per cent, lost their lives in service. Its casualties of every sort were 772, or over fifty-six per cent. The twelve Medals of Honor awarded by Congress to Connecticut soldiers for distinguished bravery three, or one-quarter of the whole, were awarded to members of this regiment.
On June 1st, at dusk, it overtook and charged Jackson’s rear at Strasburgh, and in the pursuit of him up the valley was constantly in the advance. It joined in the sharp cavalry fight near Harrisonburg, June 6tb, where the rebel General Ashby was killed, and in Fremont’s battle at Cross Keys, two days later.
On the 14th, with forty-nine men, he attacked a rebel picket on Bolivar Heights, numbering, with their reserve, 200 or more, but his horse becoming disabled under him, he was captured with more than half of his men; the remainder withdrew, bringing several prisoners captured by them.
The First Connecticut, as advance guard, met Longstreet’s advance at Craig’s Church and opened the Wilderness battles on our left. Major Marcy, with about 200 men, reconnoitering, was cut off. As the only chance of escape, he ordered sabers drawn and a charge through the enemy.
The First Connecticut Cavalry distinguished itself in the unsuccessful but hotly-contested attempt to break through the enemy’s lines at this point, and then covered the rear in the perilous withdrawal to Ream’s Station. The enemy were met here on the 29th in heavy force. The command was in the utmost danger.
“I attribute the breaking up of the main line of the enemy as it was falling back, to the charge around the left flank by the cavalry under General Custer.” – General Sheridan. The First Connecticut, under Captain French, led that charge, dispersing the enemy’s cavalry, and with the help of reinforcements, driving it across Cedar Creek.
“The First Connecticut achieved the honor of being the first to leap the enemy’s breastworks, seize his cannon, and turn them on the retreating foe.” – General Custer. The two guns thus gallantly captured by the First Connecticut were the only ones taken at that time by Custer’s division.
On May 29th it had its first experience in actual service at Pocotaligo Bridge, S. C., but without loss. The next service was in the movement under Gen. David Hunter, against Charleston, by way of James Island. It took part in the engagements June 2d, 3d, and 14th, also in the attack on the rebel fortified position at Secessionville on the 16th. This last named was one of the most severe battles for the Battery during the war, and although several horses were killed, not a man was injured. For good conduct and well-served guns the Battery was honorably mentioned in General Orders by the commander of the Department of the South.
Early in the forenoon we entered the city, amid burning buildings and the explosion of shells at the arsenal, which was on fire. While in the city the glad news came of the capture of Lee and his army, and the war was ended.
On arriving at Gettysburg on the afternoon of Friday, the second day of the battle, the Battery was ordered into position to the left of the center, where the enemy made a bold but ineffectual attempt to break through our lines, and just as the gallant Sickles was being borne to the rear.
The Battery witnessed the surrender of Fort Gaines, and on the 20th crossed to the rear of Fort Morgan and assisted in the bombardment of that stronghold. For twenty-four hours shot and shell poured in upon the fort from land and sea. The citadel was set on fire in the night, and at early dawn a white flag signaled the surrender.