Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

Colt State Park 1996 Event Report

Colt State Park
Bristol, Rhode Island
June 7-9, 1996

June 13th, 1864
Stone Chapel
South of Cold Harbor, Virginia

Dear Friends,

I take this chance to pen you a note, since I know not when such opportunity will fall my way again. We have been fighting and moving for several days, and are most thoroughly tired. We are now resting in an area of broad open meadows in the hot sun with little shade, but we are resting.

We arrived here near a place called Stone Chapel, and established our camps on Friday evening. There had been some fog and drizzle falling during the march, but it ceased on our work for the camps.We had a good wide company street this once, with the 9th Mass as our neighbors, since one company failed to show in camp, so ours was a boulevard. We trickled into camp from the march all evening, sung around the fire with our mess, and turned in.

Morning revielle awoke us at the hour of six, and the day was already hazy and humid. We got our breakfast coffee and bacon and breads. A local farmer, a Union man, was leading his Devon cow from company to company, giving milk to any soldier who could procure it from the udder, sonce he was busy steadying the front end, with the wide horns and disturbed behavior of the beast from all the rough handling. It made a fine treat to our coffee, great thanks.

We were formed for a rough parade to access the strength of the battalion present. We were combined with the 25th Mass. under Capt. Bob Burbank, bringing our company to two full platoons, under Capt. Kurtz's command. We found we were also joined by the remainder of the decimated 10th Mass. and other companies in the battalion included the 124 NY, 54th Mass., Andrews Sharpshooters (22nd Mass.), 9th Mass., 2nd RI, and several others.

After a bit, about 10 on the clock, we were formed as a company and moved off to relieve the other boys on picket. Just to our south, a road between two stone walls was the line of contention between the Rebs and us, the rebs pushing for it, and us defending. So we put in some time at the wall hurling lead at those foolish enough to receive it for some time. At one point, Capt. Kurtz went forward, white handkerchief on the tip of his sword, in order to arrange a temporary truce so that we might remove the wounded from between the lines. This done, we all went back to work. We were skirmishing with the assistance of our friends, Capt. Hobbs and the Andrews Sharpshooters, which we all did well together, until we were eventually relieved as well. The day was excessively hot, this dixie's land is too extreme, and we marched back to camp, drank gallons of water, and ate a small noon meal.

Having just caught our breath, we were ordered to arms again, only this time, it was a bigger affair. The main body of the rebels had formed to our front. So we deployed and defended our wall in force, then moved over it, flushing the rebels before us. They used their artillery on us, and the rout was on, our men running back about a half a mile for cover, and then reformed. The Col. was able to get the mob under control and back in line for a second push with the help of the officers and non-comissioned, but with the exact same results. Again, we reformed and moved forward, and thrice the run was on, men skedaddling all over. Pvt. Dan Liska tried to run from the ranks, but ran slam into the 1st.Sgt. and that attempt was thwarted. The advance was not tried again, and as the battle slowed, the rebels had moved their line to the objective, much closer to our lines. I must be honest to tell you that I believe the objective to be the shade under the trees lining both sides of that road and walls, nothing more, and nothing less, and once the rebels had it, they were content to let us go back to camp, collapse, and rest, and draw more ammunition for tomorrow.

On our street, the men slowly swung into motion for a special occasion we were to host that evening, a reception honoring hte nuptuals of our Capt. Devon Kurtz and his bride Miss Tracy Roy. The preparations were taking all shapes as a pot luck celebration was planned. We erected a long trestle table in the street, and prepared a multitude of interseting fare on the fires and in our tents. At the appointed hour of 7 in the evening, our many invited guests also arrived bearing much more to laden our table. The Captain and his Lady made theire appearance, and our company was formed by Lt. Bob Boucher in two ranks facing, muskets and bayonets crossed in an arch. The couple was bid to "pass in review", which they solemnly did, and then were pelted with rice from the ranks, as tradition requires, then led us to the buffet table.

Our friends from the 1st. Maryland arrived with banjo, guitar, and bones, and provided music for the festivities. All was quite happy to toast the couple, and the evening raced away with the social scene. Near the hour for retreat, we sang around the camp fire as our guests, one by one, and two by two, took their leave. Then we all turned into our bed rolls for a night's rest, God willing.

Sunday morning also dawned hot and hazy in this cursed south land, and we arose to get some coffee and bacon, and soon settled down, many of us to our habit of a small divine service on our company street. We each took turns reading appropriate psalms from the prayer book, taking time to observe His Sabbath and renew our faith once more.

Almost as soon as that was over, we were called for dress parade, which was then followed by battalion drill. The object was to prepare us for the battle tactics planned for this day. Our guns now seem to be amassed in this locale to help repel the enemy so our advance south towards Petersburg will not halt. We drilled "By the Right of Companies to the Front, Right Face, March" to break the battalion line of battle into companies marching by the right flank to pass each company through the gap between two guns, then "By Company into Line, March" to re-establish the line of battle once past the guns. Speed was imperative if we wanted to roll over our enemy in an unrelenting tide. No time could be lost passing the guns at the critical time to do so. And so the drill this late in the war was actually given the full attention of everyone present wearing blue.

We were dismissed and retired to our street once more, to conduct a meeting that is our "democratic" way of dealing with army life. Indeed there are several issues that the men need to decide for ourselves even in the army, so the meeting was held to decide such things as what level was the company fund at, how should it be fairly spent, and what we might want to do with it.

We broke up the meeting and searched for a spot of shade to occupy, but there were few large enough for the whole company, so most of us resorted to our tents for protection from the sun. We played checkers, &c, passed the forenoon, and ate a small cold lunch, and rested some more.

Then the call did come, and we knew it was that sanguinary hour again. We formed, marched south across the plains, and took positions and rested waiting along a hedgerow while our gunners softened up the battle field, making rifle pits the fast way, and discouraging the Johnnies from showing themselves. We soon were deployed in battalion line of battle, and we knew our time was here. We quickly moved forward, colors to the front, and passed between the guns as drilled, reformed, and kept moving as if still on parade. Colonel Eams, our overall commander, would advance the battalion about 10 rods, issue a battalion volley, advance, fire, advance, fire, and the pressure was powerfully effective. Nothing could resist that advance, it was something to behold! The alignment was superb, and the effect deadly. And the sight of our colors in front, and the Captains in front, swords pointing the way, was inspiring. The rebels retreated, leaving us the walls again, but there we took positions and tried to keep back the rebels. The rebel artillery was pouring it on us, and it was difficult to raise one's head for the minies in the air. We held but could not advance from there. Capt. Kurtz was furious, and walked to the wall, revolver drawn to assist, when right at the base of the wall in front of him, a ball struck, and removed the walll, piling it all around him. He was unhurt, but this sign left him in awe. We called him Stonewall! Soon we were withdrawn by command after such a hard fought advance. There was little feeling for this direction, but the rebels to the front would not allow forward progress. This ended the engagement in a draw.

We were formed in battalion line, blue facing gray, for the final salutes to each other, then returned to camp. Upon our arrival there, the paymaster made his appearance. We had been being promised he would arrive for several days, and there he was. But it did not work out all the way it should, as you will hear. We were each called to his desk, and received two months pay owed, each man had some subtracted on the spot for his various debts, to the company, to the commissary, the sutler, and the laundress, who was present to receive her due.

Sgt. and Pvt. Liska was docked 18 dollars for loss of a Springfield rifle each. which they never had drawn, as thiers were Enfields. The point could not be argued, since the record showed in error that the company all had drawn Springfields. I thought this quite singular, since they were the only ones charged in this manner. Probably this has some relation to the next story. Capt. Kurtz had all of his 138 dollars distributed for paymentto the sutler for claret, and to the laundress for services rendered. Such an amount raised some eyebrows, and it may be the Liska situation was arranged to put some cash in the Captain's pocket, but no one can say for sure. Another sorry situation involved Mike Hayes, who approached the table at the end, requesting his pay, when he was informed that there was no record of his enlistment, therefor no pay. The unfortunate private insisted, so the officers had him sign something, which afterwards turned out to be an enlistment for another three years from today, but still no pay, as he had just been mustered.

At this point, the battalion command came down to prepare for movement further south towards Petersburg. We each gathered up the items we needed to carry, and loaded the remainder in the wagons, and marched off after the column. We are now resting at the side of the road, and are hoping that these movements will not be too costly to us, yet we are excited to be marching towards the enemy after losses and draws in battle, and not the other way. We are all praying to our God that these actions will bring an honorable end to this war and Preserve Our Union. We are all mostly well in health, you might like to know, those present for duty, and we are faring well in rations now that City Point is a thriving base of operations. Please write me of news from home, as I am heartily sick of news of war, and long for some diversion.

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