Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

200th Anniversary Lincoln Birthday

Torrington, Conn.

May 30, 2009
Abraham Lincoln 200th Birthday
Torrington, Conn.

It was recently my pleasure to take part in a day long celebration honoring our illustrious president, Mr. Abraham Lincoln. I arrived in the center of Torrington early on a Saturday morning, hoping to hang my insurance agent shingle and perhaps convince a few within the crowd gathered for the festivities to invest in the future well being of their dependants, by purchasing a life policy designed specifically for their needs.

I found assembled an amalgamated group of Connecticut soldiers, consisting of members of the 2nd, 8th and 14th regiments, joined by additional troops of various New York and Massachusetts units.

Our own 8th Connecticut was ably represented by corporal Don Hamel and privates John Maston and Tim Sheehan. All the military men and civilians were bustling around preparing for the arrival of the honored guest. When word was received that the train bearing him and his entourage was nearing the station, all moved the several blocks to the tracks to welcome him. As the great man emerged from the train in accompanied by several guards, including one detective named Pinkerton, and the noted author with the pen name of Mark Twain, the company of soldiers stood at attention in the street, awaiting inspection by Lincoln, Governor Buckingham, and local dignitaries.

After a making a short but effective speech, and reviewing the troops, the president and his party were loaded into carriages, and escorted by the throngs back to the house where the troops were quartered and I had set up my temporary office. The men and women belonging to a local discussion society had arranged for a garden party and various activities to entertain the curious. Troops drilled, a gattling gun was demonstrated, and the president at various times expounded on themes ranging from his recent dedication of a cemetery in Pennsylvania, to the plans for his second term of administration.

I, meanwhile, found that the citizens of Torrington were ably served by the insurance firm consisting of Misters Burns, Brooks and McNeal, and rather than feeling threatened by competition, I was extended a most gracious invitation to tour their facilities, and compare policies and sales techniques, which I fully intend to accept in the future. Although no new policies were purchased, I did spend a great deal of time with the young people of town, who took immense delight in using my pen to fill in their own information on my policy sheets, and great pride in witnessing each otherís documents. I can only hope they bring these documents to their parentís attention, who may in turn wish to further investigate the service I offer.

Based on the interaction with these youths, I was further invited by several of the school masters in attendance at the festivities to speak to their classes regarding my experiences in service to our great nation. Several days later, back in the uniform of the 8th, in the company of my daughter Heather and Lou Santos of the 1st Maryland, I set up various stations representing several aspects of life in and around the army and as the students moved from area to area, we expounded on causes, effects and details of the conflict in which we are engaged. They were able to see our colors proudly waving in the light breeze, and experience the training and drill of the common soldier, and games and pastimes of civilians.

I had hoped to have others assist, but all seemed to be involved in other pursuits at the time. Nevertheless, our efforts seemed to be well received by both the students and their mentors, who then contributed generously to the funds held for the betterment and pleasure of the Eighth Connecticut.

Your obedient servant,
Hal Elwell.


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