Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

Smith-Harris House Living History

October 3-4, 2009
Smith-Harris House
East Lyme, Conn.

Dear friends,

On Saturday, October 3rd, a detail consisting of myself, Cpl. Hamel and Pvts. Bingham, Brown, Elwell and Labbadia came upon the town of East Lyme, Connecticut to once again try and recruit new soldiers to join our ranks. We stayed on the grounds of Mr. Avery, with a beautiful farmhouse and barn nearby. We were subjected to heavy rains which lasted all morning long, but with the roaring fire provided by Cpl. Hamel, we stayed remarkably dry and comfortable. There were other units set up in the area, also engaged in recruitment efforts, and it was a pleasure to talk to them and hear of their experiences.

Not many townsfolk came to see us on Saturday morning due to the rain, but we did talk to a few interested people. None of them were of age to join our unit, as most of the most appropriate applicants were already joined and fighting in the South with various regiments. We received word of possible Southern sympathizers lurking about in the nearby forest, so we took the opportunity to investigate and patrol the nearby forest lest we be surprised by them later on.

At noontime, as the rain was beginning to cease and we were finishing our lunch, a resident of the town approached us with a special request. There were some boys of East Lyme who had already been killed in battle and who had been returned to their hometown and buried at a cemetary up the street. A wreath had been made, and we were asked if we might carry the wreath to the cemetary and pay tribute to them. It was an honor to be asked, and we gladly jumped at the opportunity to pay our respects to our fellow soldiers. They included men of the 10th, 13th and 26th Connecticut, as well as the 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery.

When we arrived at the cemetary, an older gentleman asked us if we had heard of his son who was fighting with the 16th Connecticut. He had not heard from him for some time, ever since the beginning of September of 1862. We all looked at each other and nervously shuffled our feet, recalling the horrific event of Antietam where we witnessed the 16th's slaughter in a cornfield. We finally said that we did not know of him and gently excused ourselves from his questioning. This brought even more reverence to the task that lay before us, and with somber hearts we placed, in ceremony, the home-made wreath in the cemetary.

For the rest of the weekend, we drilled and demonstrated for the public, answered many questions and was even featured in a small town newspaper. It was pleasure to be back on Connecticut soil, and although we longed to stay for even a short time more, it was time to rejoin the regiment, so we packed our equipment and left the farm. We thanked the farm owners and expressed our hopes that we would all be back to see them again some day.

With best wishes,
1st Sgt. Nate Bayreuther

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