A Request for Connecticut Regiments

1 Oct 1861

As the newly formed 8th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment continues to organize and train in Hartford, the United States Secretary of War Simon Cameron requests that Governor Buckingham send two Connecticut regiments preparing for service to Camp Hempstead, Long Island, with instructions to report to Brigadier General Ambrose Burnside for orders. Eventually, the 8th and 11th Connecticut regiments will be provided to fill this request from the federal government. However, the 8th Connecticut remains at Camp Buckingham in Hartford for two and one-half more weeks as Burnside and his staff make arrangements for the reception of the fresh troops on Long Island. It is a time of both excitement and great preparation for the state of Connecticut as the governor and other leaders struggle to properly equip the influx of volunteers before sending them into federal service.

william_a-_buckingham

Governor William Alfred Buckingham of Connecticut

“Then came the endless work of mustering, equipping and drilling recruits, before they could be sent into the field. Camps were established at Hartford, New Haven, Norwich and Meriden. Every city government and the selectmen of every town were enlisting men, and stimulating enlistment by generous bounties and promising to take care of families that were left behind, engagement that were well kept. Everything was to be provided.”[1]

Although Burnside was a West Point graduate, his leadership of a brigade at Bull Run was somewhat less than impressive. His pre-war business connections with the newly appointed commander of the Union armies, Major General George B. McClellan, land Burnside a plumb job training and leading an expeditionary force to invade North Carolina. It is this expeditionary force that the 8th Connecticut will be assigned to upon arrival at Long Island. Burnside would continue to lead many of these same troops as a corps and wing commander through the Maryland Campaign in September of 1862.

Burnside wearing a presentation sword

Ambrose Burnside

President Lincoln would go on to select Burnside as the commander of the Army of the Potomac after McClellan’s inability to defeat and destroy Lee’s army during and after the battle of Antietam. Burnside’s stint as the AOP commander would end soon after the humiliating and costly defeat at Fredericksburg in December of 1862 followed by the infamous “Mud March” through northern Virginia.

ENDNOTES:
[1] Buckingham, Samuel G., The Life of William A. Buckingham, Adams Company, Springfield, 1894.

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