Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

Monmouth 1996 Event Report

Monmouth Battlefield State Park
Freehold, New Jersey
Sept. 27-29, 1996
July 23rd, 1861
near Alexandria, Vir.

Dear Friends,

We are now safe in the shadows of our Capitol, but have had quite an adventure and an embarrassment down towards Manassas, past Centreville on the 21st instant. We were ordered out of our fortifications here at home, and marched gaily towards the enemy to end the rebellion in one stroke under Gen. McDowell. We arrived at our staging areas during the evening on Friday, and took up a crowded camp, on a street with the 40NY, 10 Mass, 14th Brooklyn, and the 6NH. We set up our Captain's tent, and called it a night.

In the morning, there was a shortage of wood, but we were able to get some coffee, eat some oatmeal, and get on with life in the army. The day brought details, and then a battalion dress parade. We were fortunate to see our Col. Heim with his old friend, Marine Maj. Baader on the field again after some absence. It was not long before the parade turned into a battalion drill which was not exactly polished, but was calculated to be preparation for a drill competition with the Mifflin Guard. We got serious enough to do well the Colonel's wishes, and then were dismissed. Our noon meals were had. A sergeants meeting with Sgt.Maj. Kuntz emphasized safety in the ranks.

General Tony "Cordwood" Daniels ordered the battalion formed, and we moved off towards the enemy in the vicinity of the Henry house, high on a hill. We were marched over a creek, and deployed when the guns on both sides opened a duel. Shot and shell began exploding all around, and the orders to advance were given. Many of our battalion crossed the creek again, and deployed in line of battle to the left. We ended up on the right of this line, and were supporting a Union battery. As we were firing to the front, we observed reinforcements to our right, and we made room for them. The next confusing moment, I am seeing our men inverting their muskets and sitting on the ground, as I look up, they are all yelling "Traitor" and other oaths and epithets are filling the air. The boys in blue who came up to us had the Stars and Bars, and had captured us, along with Rickett's Battery, with but a shot. The 33rd Virginia Volunteers surprised us with uniforms of blue. Those who could, ran and escaped, and then ran all the way to Washington without stopping. The rebels did parole us on the field, and that stopped the fighting in our quarter. We indeed saw many of our boys run, many die, and we now realize that the face of war is not smiling, but very evil. The rebellion will not be crushed now during our 90 days. It may take a little longer than that.

The evening brought out our culinary talents as we worked to make our rations and foraging products interesting. We pooled our resources including tomato, potato, rutabaga, salt pork, rice, squash, peppers, and created a hot peppered stew delight, the consensus is that the dish is named "Wow", since each man and each bite produced the same chorus. We also had roasted ears for a final course.

Soon it began to sprinkle, then rain in earnest, and we were each scurrying for our tents. We were invited to the Capain's tent for some time, which we passed comfortably. In due time, we retired early, knowing there was army rear guard duty for the morrow. It continued to rain almost all night.

The Sabbath dawned, and the wood was wet. No fire would rise on any invocation, and we all wanted coffee. Instead, the orders came to fall in and move out. The battalion moved down the hills and into a wood, put out a skirmish line, stacked arms, and ate a breakfast from our haversacks. But that was soon broken up, as the enemy was detected then engaged by the cavalry, and then our troops. The river of blue quickly flowed by the right flank, into line, and then broke ashore on the rebels. We caught them in a creek bottom in their rear and then in the right flank by our skirmishers. We destroyed them with little loss ourselves, finding them to be the 1st Maryland among others. We mopped up the area, advancing in line, firing, then advancing again, flushing all the rebels out of the bushes to our front. We established a picket, and the rest of the battalion returned to camps for breakfast.

Let me say I have not yet in this great army seen wood smoke so without fire, no food could be gotton up for almost another three hours. We worried the coffee, lost at a company drill contest with the 124th NY, and finally had something warm by noon. We also had coffee, left over "Wow", bread pudding, mulled cider, and eggs. Pea soup was prepared, and as soon as I served it, yes, formation was ordered. I put it down and fell in. I knew this was battle again as I could hear the guns working already. We marched down a wood road by the right flank, then fronted, and advanced through the woods and brush on seemingly safe ground. It was extremely difficult to keep our lines together on this ground, and then we realized by proximity, that we were advancing into the muzzles of a battery hurling canister at us. We kept advancing, with large gaps being torn in our lines, and we were severely cut up. Yet we were able to go to the right oblique and survive, the battery being disabled after causing great losses. It was learned that it was 1st NC Artillery Battery A. Their dedication to their cause was evident, but the honor on our side was its equal. The result was the loss of the men and lives on both sides.

The advance of our lines was flanking the rebels. as their main body fought on two fronts, and thus they were surrounded, contained, silenced, and captured. The view would have brought a stone to tears, to look over the field, the destruction, and the carnage at that one fleeting moment when it is known that the battle is over.

Our Fifth Company, USV, was reformed on the field, a roll call taken, and moved back to the camps. The orders came to pack it up quickly and move out at sunset for the defences of Washington, it seemed that the contest had ended, the laurels awarded, and the wounded to hide and lick embarassing wounds. Most of the camp was thrown by the roadside, and only our arms made it to the wagons. We did march in order, and rally the stragglers in our front, but we have returned to Washington, instead of the anticipated short campaign to Richmond. Gen. McDowell will surely recalculate this and move directly back into the field. This has only been the first contest, and the errors will be quickly righted, the Rebellion will be stopped. God bless our Union, our Army, and our Generals, may God grant our families the strength to survive these hardships of war, and may we all honor the fallen heroes. We here are mostly well, shaken , and tired, but surely still in good health and spirit.

Your obedient servant,

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