Oliver Case may have been a lowly private in Company A of the 8th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment, but he was always a man in the know. His letter of May 30, 1862 written from Newbern, North Carolina gives his sister Abbie the latest news of several important promotions.
Oliver tells Abbie that very little has changed in the regiment since his last letter written six days earlier “with the exception of a change in the officers of the company.” He first mentions the promotion of Wolcott P. Marsh to Captain.
Lieut. W.P. Marsh has been promoted to Capt. of Co. F. It was a surprise to our company as well as theirs and it was universally regretted by the men as he was an officer thought everything of by them.
Marsh was promoted and given command of Company F of the 8th CVI. The former Lieutenant of company A was well known to Oliver as described in at least eight of Oliver’s letters.
Walcott Marsh was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1839 making him roughly the same age as Oliver. Sometime prior to 1860, he relocated to Hartford, Connecticut where he married Anna Thompson and worked selling knives. Marsh originally enlisted in the 1st Connecticut Infantry Regiment at the beginning of the war and was discharged after the First Battle of Bull Run when his three-month enlistment expired. He received a commission as second lieutenant in the 8th after enlisting in September 1861.
Lieutenant Marsh’s wife, Anna, traveled from Connecticut to stay with her husband during much of the time the regiment was training at Annapolis. She became well-loved by the soldiers of A Company. An example is founded in Oliver’s letter of 17 December 1861:
Mrs. Lieut. Marsh offers to mend any clothes for the soldiers that they wish. I think she may have some sewing for a day or two.
Walcott P. Marsh, Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteers
Marsh was promoted to first lieutenant while still in training with regiment at Annapolis on December 24, 1861. There is some ambiguity in the official records as to the date of Marsh’s promotion to Captain and transfer to Company F. However, putting together the evidence from the records and Oliver’s letters, it appears that Marsh was promoted in May 1862. He was transferred to Company F replacing Elijah Y. Smith of Plainfield who resigned as company commander on March 28, 1862. This move prompted concern on Oliver’s part as to the effect on the first lieutenant in Company F.
How it will go down in Co. F I do not know for the Lieut. [Main] that came out with them as first Lieut. is in the same position at present while our old Lieut. [Marsh] came out as 2nd and is now promoted over him.
The slighted lieutenant was Edwin G. Main of Brooklyn who later died of wounds received at Antietam and is the subject of a recent post on John Banks’ excellent Civil War blog.
Captain Marsh would resign on December 22, 1862 after the Fredericksburg Campaign suffering from malaria and unable to continue his duties.
Wolcott Marsh’s final connection with Oliver was the gloomiest. From his letters written after the Battle of Antietam:
“I went up where our regit. was engaged and there what a sight. 30 men from our regit. alone lay dead in a little field…then passing on to Co. A. were the body’s of Olive[r] Case, Orton Lord, Martin Wadhams and Lucius Wheeler…”
Also in his letter of 30 May 1862, Oliver also gives news of another promotion within the ranks of Company A:
Orderly Broatch is promoted to 2nd Lieut. of this company. He was presented with a sword and sash by the boys. It took him entirely by surprise and his attempt to make a speech was a failure.
William J. Broatch of New Britain, Connecticut enlisted in the 8th CVI on October 5, 1861 as a private. At some point, Broatch began service in the 8th as an orderly likely for the commander of Company A. The duties of an orderly are described in a field manual of the day as such:
Orderlies are soldiers selected on account of their intelligence, experience, and soldierly bearing, to attend on generals, commanding officers, officers of the day, and staff officers, to carry orders, mess &c. They may be taken from the guard or put on permanently while the duty lasts: in the latter case they are reported on daily duty and are excused from all other duty that would interfere with their duty as orderlies.
Broatch had an interesting military career that continued even after the Civil War ended. He was discharged from the 8th CVI in October 1863 and enlisted in the 14th United States Infantry as a sergeant in November of the same year. Broatch rose to the top of the enlisted ranks in the 14th quickly with a promotion to sergeant major only four months later. He won honors on the field of battle during the Virginia campaigns of 1864 resulting in a brevet promotion to first lieutenant in October of that year.
After the war, Broatch continued to serve in the regular army as a captain of the 40th U.S. Infantry and saw duty as the aide-de-camp to Philip St. George Cooke in Omaha, Nebraska. He was later appointed as an Indian agent in South Dakota then returned to Omaha in 1874. During his time in Omaha, Broatch became a well-known businessman and political figure including Omaha’s mayor as described by the Douglas County Historical Society:
He was elected to the Omaha school board in 1877 and became a charter member of the Omaha Board of Trade. He was appointed to the Missouri River Commission by President Chester Arthur…A solid Republican with “a tolerance for all people,” Mr. Broatch sought to correct the abuses of city government. He was described by detractors as “calculating” and as the builder of a political machine second to none.
William J. Broatch during his time as a politician and businessman in Omaha, Nebraska
Broatch died in Omaha in 1922.
Finally, Oliver mentions two important promotions in the regimental leadership:
Capt. Ward has been promoted to Major, our old Major Appelman having been promoted to Lieut. Col.
More on these officers in future posts…
 The Letters of Oliver Cromwell Case (Unpublished), Simsbury Historical Society, Simsbury, CT, 1861-1862
 Section 114, Customs of Service for Non-commissioned Officers and Soldiers, August V. Kautz, J.B. Lippincott & Company, Philadelphia, 1864.