On the 17th of October 1861, the 8th CVI was transferred to Federal service and departed Hartford bound for a camp of instruction in New York. Below is a brief timeline of events surrounding that journey constructed from Oliver’s letters and other sources:
17 Oct 1861 – 4:00pm
The 8th CVI is officially transferred to federal service and departs Camp Buckingham in Hartford via ship bound for the Camp of Instruction on Long Island, NY (Jamaica). Unit strength is listed at 1,016. Cheering crowds greet the soldiers making their way down the Connecticut River.
As it[the ship]passed towards the river, the departing soldiers were greeted with waving flags and resounding cheers from proud relatives and friends, and grateful strangers, who only knew them as a part of the grand Union army going eagerly forth to offer vicarious atonement for the sins of the nation. [Croffut and Morris]
Although a multitude of rumors spread through the ranks, Oliver and the soldiers of the 8th CVI have no clue as to their destination. They must settle into the cramped quarters of the ship and wait. Much to their delight, the soldiers of Company A find some of the better accommodations aboard the boat.
Our quarters, that is Co. A’s, were in the gangway forward of the shaft. We spread our beds all over the floor and bunked in like a mess of pigs; some were in the water shoe deep. I managed to get a dry place and with my knapsack for a pillow slept soundly for about two hours when I heard my name called loud enough to start any living person to stand guard for an hour over our traps (?) and guns. [Case Letters]
18 Oct 1861
After being relieved from his duty of guarding the baggage and weapons, Oliver finds that he is unable to accomplish any restful sleep probably caused by the combine effects of anticipation and the cramped quarters on the ship. [Case Letters]
As the fog clears, the lights of New York City come into view for the soldiers of the 8th CVI. [Case Letters]
The boat puts ashore at Staten Island and the soldiers of the 8th scramble to find their knapsacks and other equipment. The horses are taken off the ship and the soldiers don their knapsacks in anticipation of leaving the ship. Much to their disappointment after standing for hours, the troops are not allowed to disembark. Their ship must wait for the Granite State to come up from New York. [Case Letters]
After waiting for 3 hours, the soldiers of the 8th are told they are not going ashore at Staten Island. The horses are reloaded and the ship travels back by New York City to a destination yet unknown to the soldiers. [Case Letters]
The ship arrives at Hunter’s Point, Long Island. Some of the members of the regiment are allowed to leave the ship, but the troops of Company A wait for another two to three hours before boarding a train to their Camp of Instruction at Jamaica, Long Island. As Oliver views the long day of delays with a sense of humor writing, “All things must have an end and so did our waiting.” [Case Letters]
A heavy rain falling since the afternoon prevents the assembly of tents at the camp so the soldiers spend their first night on Long Island sleeping under the stars. An abundant supply of cedar trees provides bedding for tired troops. [Case Letters]
19 Oct 1861
Oliver and his fellow soldiers awake to find that the rain coupled with a heavy fog has left all the equipment including their guns wet and rusting. The soldiers will spend the day cleaning and drying. [Case Letters]