Categories: Civil War, Guilford, Hartford, Health and Medicine, Simsbury, War and Defense

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

Right foot of James Wilbraham
A watercolor drawing of the right foot of James Wilbraham before the amputation of his toes for gangrene caused by frostbite. Wilbraham was a Connecticut soldier during the Civil War, ca. 1865 – Connecticut Historical Society

On July 10, 1864, Civil War soldier Curtis Bacon of Simsbury died of gangrene from injuries he suffered in combat nearly two months earlier. On May 15, 1864, Bacon’s regiment, the First Light Battery, Connecticut Volunteers, was engaged near Richmond, Virginia. On that Sunday morning, during the fourth day of the five-day Battle of Proctor’s Creek, a Confederate artillery shot hit the hub of a gun wheel of one of the Battery’s cannons, and the band ricocheted off and struck Bacon. Additionally, splinters and iron shards struck William Davis of Guilford in the face and chest. Comrades of Bacon and Davis believed Davis’s wounds were mortal, but they expected Bacon to survive. As it turned out, Davis actually had no serious injuries, while Bacon died on July 10, 1864, from gangrene that developed as a result of his wounds.

The gun wheel of the First Light Battery in the Connecticut State Capitol - Courtesy of Stacey Renee

The gun wheel of the First Light Battery in the Connecticut State Capitol – Courtesy of Stacey Renee

Curtis Bacon was the first man to enlist from Simsbury, in October of 1861. He chose to re-enlist as a veteran on December 19, 1863. Bacon died in a hospital a little over six months later. The gun wheel that played a part in his demise now resides at the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut, as a memorial to the contributions and sacrifices of Bacon and the rest of the men of the First Light Battery, Connecticut Volunteers.

Mike Blanker teaches history at New Britain High School.

This Today in History was published as part of a semester-long graduate student project at Central Connecticut State University that examined Civil War monuments and their histories in and around the State Capitol in Hartford, Connecticut.

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