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Civil War


Sloop-of-War Ship’s Figurehead Lands at State Capitol

A figurehead from the USS Hartford currently resides at the Connecticut State Capitol and serves as a reminder of the state’s rich maritime heritage.

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New Haven: What Was Everyday Life Like During the Civil War?

Questions? We get a lot of them and some of…

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Henry Deming: Mayor of Hartford and New Orleans

Henry Deming served as mayor of Hartford and then as the provisional mayor of New Orleans during the Civil War before writing a biography of Ulysses S. Grant.

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The Ulysses S. Grant Memorial Tablet

The Connecticut Division of the Sons of Veterans, USA, commissioned a memorial tablet to Ulysses S. Grant who led Union forces during the Civil War, became the eighteenth president of the United States, and whose ancestors had numerous ties to Connecticut.

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A Monument Memorializes the Fallen

In front of the state capitol is a mortar commemorating the service of the First Connecticut Heavy Artillery Regiment. The mortar may or may not be the original “Petersburg Express” used at the famous siege of Petersburg, Virginia, during the Civil War.

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Connecticut’s Chickamauga Tree: An Investigation

The Connecticut State Capitol displays part of a tree with a cannonball lodged in it. While it is believed to be a remnant of the battle at Chickamauga Creek during the Civil War, evidence exists suggesting the artifact may have been fabricated for the purpose of commercial sale.

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Battle Flag Parade, Hartford, Connecticut, September 17, 1879

A Day of Celebration – Today in History: September 17

September 17, 1879 was a day of celebration in the City of Hartford when more than 100,000 people came to the city to celebrate Battle Flag Day with a grand parade and celebration of Connecticut’s Civil War veterans.

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General Nathaniel Lyon

From the State Historian: The Final Journey of Nathaniel Lyon

The first Union general to die in the Civil War, this soldier from Eastford received national attention as mourners from Missouri to Connecticut gathered to pay tribute.

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The southeast block of West Street, Litchfield as it looked in the Civil War era, 1867

The Peace Movement in Litchfield

Connecticut saw no combat on its soil during the Civil War. Yet, the conflict left its mark on the state in ways that historians are still sorting out. This account details the war’s impact on two Connecticut towns.

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Globe Onion

The Many Layers to Onion Farming in Westport

Westport’s fertile soil and ease of access by boat and rail once made it home to a thriving onion farming industry.

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Civil War Sanitary Commission

Sanitary Fair – Today in History: July 25

On July 25, 1864, the Stamford Ladies Soldiers’ Aid Society…

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A Muster Ceremony, New Haven Green

The First Battle of Bull Run: Connecticut Troops Stand Firm When the Battle Turns Against Them

Connecticut troops earned admiration for staying to fight when others fled.

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Plan of USS monitor, 1862

Cornelius Bushnell and His Ironclad Ship

Cornelius Scranton Bushnell was a 19th-century Connecticut businessman and shipbuilder…

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Connecticut’s War Governor, William A. Buckingham

Connecticut governor William Buckingham made significant contributions to the state’s war effort, sometimes even covering war expenses out of his own pocket. His bronze statue at the Connecticut State Capitol honors the selfless manner in which he guided the state through the Civil War.

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Connecticut’s Capitol Building – Inside and Out

The Connecticut State Capitol was built at a time when Civil War commemoration was gaining popularity. Capturing elements of the Victorian Gothic and Second Empire styles, the building is a testament to the work of James Batterson, Richard Upjohn, and the era in which it was designed and fabricated.

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Soldiers' and Sailors' Memorial Arch, Hartford

The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, Hartford

Situated in Bushnell Park, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch honors the more than 4,000 Hartford men who fought for the Union during the Civil War.

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Crisis Management during the American Civil War: The Hartford Soldiers’ Aid Society

The Hartford Soldiers’ Aid Society was one of the most important relief organizations during the Civil War and provided new opportunities for women in the public sphere.

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John Rogers, Checkers up at the Farm,1875, painted plaster

John Rogers was a 19th-Century Sculptor for the Common Man

April 23, 2020 • Arts, Civil War, New Canaan

John Rogers was an American sculptor whose style and production…

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Navy Steamship Galena, 1861

Ironclad Commissioned – Today in History: April 21

April 21, 2020 • Civil War, Groton, War and Defense

On April 21, 1862, the USS Galena was commissioned. New…

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The Influence of Woman, Harper's Weekly, 1862

Bridgeport Women Answer the Call – Today in History: April 15

On April 15, 1861, the women of Bridgeport created the…

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The Gettysburg Address and Heroic Fathers Bronze Tablets at the State Capitol

To counter public perceptions that Union women lacked the patriotism found in their Confederate counterparts, in 1927, two different women’s organizations dedicated plaques to commemorate events and service in the Civil War.

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The 29th First to Enter Confederate Capital When It Surrenders – Today in History: April 3

April 3, 2020 • Civil War, War and Defense

On the morning of April 3, 1865, the 29th (Colored)…

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Anna E. Dickinson

Anna Elizabeth Dickinson at Touro Hall – Today in History: March 24

On March 24, 1863, Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, a 20-year-old Quaker…

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The 29th Leaves for War – Today in History: March 19

On March 19, 1864, as the 29th (Colored) Regiment Connecticut…

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Gideon Welles Appointed Lincoln’s Secretary of the Navy – Today in History: March 7

On March 7, 1861 Gideon Welles was officially appointed into…

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A Civil War Soldier Engineers an Iconic Career

Horatio Wright was a Connecticut native who served with distinction…

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Shipbuilding at Gildersleeve Ship Construction Co., Portland

The Gildersleeve Shipbuilding Legacy in Portland

The town of Portland has a rich history of shipbuilding….

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North and South: The Legacy of Eli Whitney

After studying to become a lawyer, Eli Whitney actually helped further American industrial production methods through his numerous clever inventions.

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Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses, Bridgeport, photograph ca. 1998

Mary and Eliza Freeman Houses

Houses owned by Mary and Eliza Freeman are the only remnants of “Little Liberia,” a settlement of free African Americans in Bridgeport, Connecticut, that began in 1831 and reached its highest population just prior to the outbreak of the Civil War.

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Armory Fire

Colt Armory Burns – Today in History: February 4

On February 4, 1864, most of Colt’s East Armory burned…

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Reverend James Pennington: A Voice for Freedom

Having escaped from slavery in Maryland, this accomplished pastor, publisher, and freedom fighter challenged racism wherever he found it, even within the ranks of the abolitionist movement and the ministry.

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Hotchkiss & Sons Artillery Projectiles

Connecticut Arms the Union

Colt, Sharps, and other gun-makers weren’t the only Nutmeg-based firms that supplied armaments during the Civil War. Makers of kitchen utensils, sewing machines, textiles, and other goods re-geared production lines to meet demand.

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Freedom to the Slave

From the State Historian: Connecticut’s Slow Steps Toward Emancipation

Slavery remained in the Land of Steady Habits until 1848, and it was not quick to advance suffrage for African Americans, either.

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Soldiers with cannons, 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery

The Complicated Realities of Connecticut and the Civil War

Citizens’ dedication on the battlefield and home front did not always signal agreement on key issues of the day.

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Little Sorrel

Little Sorrel, Connecticut’s Confederate War Horse

A foal born on a farm owned by Noah C….

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Honor and Duty: The Life of Alfred Howe Terry

Born in New Haven, Alfred Howe Terry studied law before heroically capturing Fort Fisher during the Civil War. He earned the thanks of Congress for this victory before maintaining peace between whites and Native Americans in the Dakotas.

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Corporal Thomas Fox , Second Connecticut Volunteer Heavy Artillery, B Company with his regimental flag

Disaster at Cold Harbor: Connecticut’s Second Volunteer Heavy Artillery Regiment

October 26, 2019 • Civil War, Derby

For many veterans of the Second, the assault at Cold Harbor would be the most terrible memory of their Civil War careers.

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A Memorial to General Hawley at the State Capitol

Although not a native of Connecticut, one would be hard pressed to find a man more committed to the people of Connecticut than Joseph Roswell Hawley. He became Brigadier General of the 1st Connecticut Infantry during the Civil War and served the state as both a senator and as Connecticut’s 42nd governor. Within months of his death, the Connecticut legislature authorized construction of a memorial in his honor.

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General Joseph R. Hawley

General Joseph R. Hawley Helps Commemorate Connecticut’s Civil War Soldiers

“Let monuments be raised in every town, let songs be sung and orations delivered,” urged this state politician and skilled speechmaker.

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Unveiling of the Grant Memorial Tablet – Today in History: October 4

October 4, 2019 • Civil War, Hartford

On October 4, 1916, the Ulysses Simpson Grant Memorial Tablet…

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Senator William Wallace Eaton

William Eaton, a Peace Democrat and Civil War Opponent

This 19th- century Connecticut politician took a controversial stand against a war that would divide the Union and decrease states’ rights.

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Civil War Monument, Kensington

Kensington Soldiers Monument Dedicated – Today in History: July 28

July 28, 2019 • Berlin, Civil War

On July 28, 1863, the Soldiers Monument in the Kensington…

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Testing the camping equipment on The Gunnery’s campus in Washington

Reading, Writing, and the Great Outdoors: Frederick Gunn’s School Transforms Victorian-era Education

In 1850, this educator, prominent abolitionist, and outdoorsman founded The Gunnery, a school in Washington, Connecticut.

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Detail from an 1863 broadside

Henry Ward Beecher, a Preacher with Political Clout

This skilled orator championed woman suffrage, temperance, and the cause of anti-slavery but scandal nearly derailed his career.

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General Mansfield's uniform epaulets

One of the Honored Dead: General J. K. F. Mansfield

A resident of New Haven and Middletown, Joseph Mansfield rose to the rank of brigadier general in the Union army before losing his life at the Battle of Antietam.

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John Brown

John Brown Born – Today in History: May 9

On May 9, 1800, the man who became a catalyst…

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More than two dozen veterans of the Ninth Regiment gathered for a reunion at Savin Rock in West Haven

Fighting Sons of Erin: Connecticut’s Irish Regiment in the Civil War

Men with names like O’Brien, Kennedy, Mahoney, Murphy, Donnelly, Fitzpatrick, and Sullivan flocked to enlist in what a recruiting poster confidently described as a “destined to be gallant Regiment.”

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Panorama of Bushnell Park, 1920s

Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch – Today in History: September 17

September 17, 2018 • Architecture, Civil War, Hartford

On September 17, 1886, the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch…

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School children placing flowers on the graves of World War I servicemen

Memorial Day 1920 Brings a Changing of the Guard

In 1920, veterans groups played an active role in orchestrating…

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Gun Wheel of the First Light Battery, Connecticut Volunteers

The First Light Battery Connecticut Volunteers took part in numerous battles during the Civil War. A wheel damaged in battle now resides at the Connecticut State Capitol to commemorate the service of this unit.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: A Society in Ferment, 1819-1865

Industry, immigration, and urbanization characterized Connecticut in the 19th century.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Searching for the Common Good, 1819-1865

During the early 19th century, the General Assembly was slow to deal with rising crime, poverty and the other social costs of a rapidly changing society.

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An Orderly & Decent Government: Significant Events & Developments, 1819-1865

Connecticut in the 1830s was characterized by a move from agriculture to industry, and the loss of residents to westward migration.

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Celebrating Civil War Men and Women – Today in History: April 9

Today marks the anniversary of not only one, but two…

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Portrait detail of Frederick Douglass

“An Admirable Portrait” of Frederick Douglass

Hartford photographer Stephen H. Waite capitalized on the public’s interest in the great abolitionist.

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Alfred Howe Terry Born in Hartford – Today in History: November 10

November 10, 2017 • Civil War, Hartford, New Haven, War and Defense

On November 10, 1827 Alfred Howe Terry was born in…

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Right foot of James Wilbraham

Civil War Soldier Dies of Gangrene – Today in History: July 10

On July 10, 1864, Civil War soldier Curtis Bacon of…

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Muster of Civil War troops, Main Street, New Britain, May 11, 1861

The Civil War Commences: Connecticut’s Involvement in the Civil War

Diaries, letters, and other documents provide firsthand witness to the sacrifices of Connecticut men and women during the years of bloody conflict.

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Cover of a patriotic song dedicated to Lincoln's secretary of the navy Gideon Welles

Gideon Welles, US Secretary of the Navy and Lincoln’s “Neptune”

“He was a man of no decorations; … but he understood his duty and he did it efficiently, continually and unwaveringly,” said a contemporary of this Glastonbury-born leader.

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Effect of Confederate shot on the USS Galena, 1862

Mystic-built USS Galena Part of Plan to Strengthen Union Navy

This 950-ton, steam-propelled gunboat took fire from critics and Confederates during the Civil War.

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Detail from a map of Hayt

Ebenezer Bassett’s Historic Journey

This educator, activist, and associate of Frederick Douglass served the US as its first African American ambassador.

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Hazard's Electric Gunpowder, Hazard Powder Company

Colonel Augustus G. Hazard, Gunpowder Manufacturer – Who Knew?

…that Connecticut resident, Augustus G. Hazard owned and operated over…

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The Great Remedy. Hand-colored lithograph by E.B. & E.C. Kellogg

The Great Remedy: Picturing the Emancipation Proclamation

On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, declaring more than three million African Americans in those states in rebellion against the United States to be forever free.

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Detail view of the 29th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

29th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers Fought More than One War

The state’s first African American regiment of the Civil War distinguished itself by battling Confederate forces and 19th-century prejudices.

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Borden's Evaporated Milk Crate Label

Evaporated Milk’s Connecticut Connection – Who Knew?

…that in 1856 businessman Gail Borden Jr. opened the first…

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The Forlorn Soldier

The Forlorn Soldier, a statue by James G. Batterson, survived years of neglect, punishing weather, and movements to tear it down, and yet still serves an important purpose in Civil War commemoration.

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Remembering Civil War Prisoners of War

Outside the Connecticut State Capitol building in Hartford stands a monument to the Connecticut prisoners retained at the Andersonville Prison during the Civil War.

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Billings & Spencer Company

Christopher Miner Spencer, 19th-century Arms Manufacturer

A well-known American inventor in his day, this Manchester native obtained 42 patents during his lifetime and created the first successful breech-loading repeating rifle.

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Image of Soldiers Memorial, Company B, 29th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers

Connecticut’s Black Civil War Regiment

“If you win freedom and citizenship, we shall share your freedom and citizenship.” With these words, abolitionist Frederick Douglass reminded African American soldiers from Connecticut that they fought for the hopes of many.

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Commissary Sergeant 29th Regiment

Connecticut 29th Mustered into Service – Today in History: March 8

March 8, 2015 • Civil War, War and Defense

On March 8, 1864, the state’s first African American regiment,…

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John Brown: A Portrait of Violent Abolitionism

John Brown of Torrington used violence to oppose the spread of slavery prior to the Civil War, ultimately leading a bloody raid on the armory in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia.

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Hazardville Powder Company

Powder Hollow in Hazardville – Who Knew?

…that 40% of all the gunpowder consumed in the Civil…

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Standing at Rest, at Last: The Story of the Forlorn Soldier

Started with an inquiry, then researched and written, and finally…

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Civil War Monuments and Memorials in and Around the State Capitol

During the fall 2013 semester at Central Connecticut State University…

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The Old Brownstone Soldier

Charles Conrads, a German immigrant and George Batterson’s lead sculptor, helped design the initial shape of the Forlorn Soldier. Unlike many sculptures of the period, the piece was made from Connecticut brownstone rather than the more traditional process of using granite.

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Commemorating the USS Hartford at the Connecticut State Capitol

The Connecticut State Capitol currently houses two important artifacts to commemorate the service of the USS Hartford. The first is a figurehead taken from the original ship. The second is a scale model of the USS Hartford.

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Hall of Flags: Memorial to Connecticut’s Civil War Colors

Battle flags played an important strategic and ceremonial role in Civil War battles. The preservation of Connecticut’s Civil War colors has been a long, delicate, and expensive process.

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Pomp and Circumstance: Civil War Commemoration

The completion of the Forlorn Soldier did not meet with the pomp and circumstance of many other CIvil War commemorations, despite its media coverage and an overflowing sense of nationalism among the general public.

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Camp of the 13th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers

What’s in a Number? Connecticut’s Thirteenth Regiment Goes Off to War

May 3, 2014 • Civil War, New Haven

So how lucky was the Thirteenth when it came to surviving combat, disease, and other perils of the Civil War? Read on to find out.

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William E. Simonds

William Edgar Simonds: A Schoolteacher Turned Civil War Hero

Born into a destitute family, William Edgar Simonds originally set…

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Almira Ambler, Civil War Nurse

A Voice for Veterans: A Civil War era ‘Whistle-Blower’ – Who Knew?

Her obituary stated that “Mrs. Ambler was always expected to say something” on behalf of those who had fought for the Union.

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Gideon Welles’s Role in Lincoln’s Cabinet

Earning the trust of Abraham Lincoln, despite reservations from many in Lincoln’s cabinet, Gideon Welles navigated the Union navy through the Civil War. He did this largely through expanding the navy and investing in new technology, such as ironclad ships.

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Colt workers in front of the Armory, 1876

Workers at the Colt Armory, Hartford 1867

Colt Firearms has been one of the most prominent industries…

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Private Henry Cornwall

Private Henry Cornwall 1862

The State of Connecticut sent over 55,000 troops to help…

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Ashbel Woodward house, Franklin

Franklin’s Ashbel Woodward was a Battlefield Surgeon and Historian

Ashbel Woodward was a physician, historian, and farmer who spent…

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View in Batterson, Canfield & Co.'s Monumental Works

James G. Batterson, Stone Contractor

James G. Batterson, a native of Windsor, was an artist, inventor, and businessman. He supported both Governor Buckingham and President Lincoln during the Civil War, and afterward, helped commemorate the war through his proficiency with stone.

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The 29th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Flag and Display

Regimental flags played important symbolic and strategic roles in battle. The State of Connecticut maintains a collection of 110 such flags from the Civil War, among them, the flag of the 29th (Colored) Volunteer Infantry.

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J.O. Davidson, Battle of Port Hudson

Connecticut’s Naval Contributions to the Civil War

From makers of gun boats to bakers of ship biscuits, companies across the Nutmeg state helped keep the Union navy afloat while sea-savvy leaders and sailors from the state kept it in fighting form.

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Nathaniel Lyon. Lithograph by E.B. & E.C. Kellogg

Nathaniel Lyon: Colorful Commander from Connecticut

The military exploits of this passionate abolitionist include an attack on pro-secessionist forces that may have assured Missouri remained part of the Union.

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Hall of Flags, State Capitol, Hartford

Collections: Battle Flags

November 23, 2012 • Civil War, War and Defense

“Keep them, keep them, as long as there is a thread left,” said one soldier of the regimental flag for the 6th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry.

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Video – Hidden History: Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch

Your Town’s History in Video: Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch

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Corpse preserver

Death and Mourning in the Civil War Era

The Civil War transformed traditional practices of death and mourning in Victorian-era Connecticut.

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