Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

Company A, Inc.

Smith-Harris Living History

October 2-3, 2010
East Lyme, Connecticut

Dear friends,

Once again, a small contingent of the 8th Connecticut, Co. A arrived at the town of East Lyme for recruitment purposes. It was wonderful to be back in my hometown again, and it was a pleasure to see familiar faces waving our nation’s flag at the sides of the tree-lined road as we marched toward the farmhouse of Thomas Avery. The morning was sunny yet windy, and our state and national colors stood out straight; it was evident fall had firmly supplanted summer. Once at the farmhouse, we participated in a flag-raising ceremony before setting up camp near the orchard. Other units, including a naval unit, were there with a similar intention of luring new recruits.

We set a small guard mount and included a post in the nearby forest so we could show the curious public how an advanced outpost would operate. At noontime on Saturday, we marched up the street to the nearby cemetery where several of our fellow Connecticut men, including four from the 26th Connecticut, were buried having died during the Battle of Port Hudson, Louisiana a year earlier. Many people followed us to pay their respects, and we returned to camp a short time later.

That afternoon, we put on a demonstration in the woods to show the public how we would operate in a typical skirmish with the Rebels, with Cpl. D. Hamel dressed as a Confederate using captured clothing he had kept with him to bring home. His wife and young daughter had arrived to our camp and were in attendance during the demonstration, and they witnessed our rifle fire, Cpl. Hamel’s capture, subsequent arrest and interrogation back at camp. Not understanding this was only a demonstration, Cpl. Hamel’s daughter became visibly upset and our exhibition came to an immediate halt as we and her father spent the next few moments consoling and reassuring the young girl that her father was not actually in any danger.

As evening fell, some of our lads were given furlough to return to their own nearby homes for a short time, and the rest of us stayed behind. My own sister traveled from Mystic to provide us with a small harvest of apples, squash and a jar of apple-butter jam, all welcome additions to our evening supper. Later, time was spent inside the farmhouse witnessing a true story of Canadian spies – most unsettling – and other stories were shared around our own campfire as a familiar recruit, Pvt. Jack Daniel, made his presence known to us. The night was cold, but the roaring fire helped us to remain fairly comfortable, and we awoke feeling refreshed.

The wind picked up again in the morning and the temperature remained cold as we began welcoming the public again. After second noontime visit to the cemetery, I was dismayed to find Pvt. Boucher had stolen – again – a handsome watch from the Christian Commission ladies. He was immediately arrested by our own lads and brought back to me. Having found the watch had indeed been stolen, he was ordered to march around the camp in shame with a “THIEF” placard hanging from his shoulders. All those in the vicinity watched, and a fifer skipped along behind him playing away, adding to the taunts and jeers. Pvt. Boucher viciously shouted at a visiting topographer from the Corps of Engineers as he passed by his tent. After some time of this humiliation, his good sense seemed to finally take hold, and he repented. I allowed him to return to our small squad.

Later on in the afternoon, we reviewed the manual of arms and performed a firing demonstration for those in attendance. An enormous crowd sat on the nearby stone wall and listened as I shouted above the noise of the wind through the trees. Everyone seemed to thoroughly enjoy our instruction, and many questions were asked afterward.

All in all, it was a most fulfilling weekend. I leave this place with somewhat of a heavier heart than times before, more uncertain than ever of our future opportunities to return to the Avery farmhouse. Regardless, I am pleased with our endeavors to educate the civilians and hopefully persuade those able-bodied men to join the Union. The hospitality shown to the 8th Connecticut each year has been profound, and I am grateful for the experience. I pray we may return again one day.

With all very best wishes to friends and family, I shall always remain,

Most sincerely,
1st Sgt. Nate Bayreuther

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Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co.A, Inc.

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