The Endless Work: Mustering, Equipping and Drilling

If he did attend the Reverend Simmons’ sermon on September 26, 1861, Oliver Case didn’t have long to bask in the patriotic afterglow of the Simsbury pastor’s inspiring discourse because by mid-September of 1861, “the first fractional companies of the Eighth began to move to their camp…just outside of Hartford.” On the day following the National Day of Humiliation, Prayer and Fasting and the Simsbury sermon from Ichabod Simmons, the 8th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry was formal organized at Camp Buckingham in Hartford, Connecticut. It was another step toward fulfilling the directive of Governor Buckingham for four additional regiments and, ultimately, meeting the terms of President Lincoln’s call for 13,000 more Connecticut troops.(1)

Camp Buckingham, named for the state’s popular governor, was a training ground located at modern-day Barry Square on Campfield Avenue in Hartford. It was formerly known as Camp Putnam while it served as the training grounds for the 5th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry until being vacated shortly before the arrival of the 8th Connecticut in September. Once in camp, a transformational process started for Oliver and his comrades in the regiment:

After enlistment, what? This deed done, the responsibility of the citizen for himself ceased in a measure, and Uncle Sam took him in charge…before leaving the State these volunteers were mustered into service. This often occurred soon after their enlistment, before they had been provided with the garb of Union soldiers.(2) 

location-of-camp-buckingham-hartford-ct

Modern-day Barry Square on Campfield Avenue, the Location of Camp Buckingham in Hartford

      The time spent in camp at Hartford allowed the officers and state officials to round out the ranks and raise funds for equipping the soldiers with weapons, tents and other individual items. The task of turning citizens into soldiers ready for combat duty and functioning as part of the regiment was no small feat for the officers. While the patriotic fervor brought in the recruits, the hard work began in the camps as the regiments gathered. The green recruits were taught to wear their new uniforms, march in formation and conduct the daily tasks associated with maintaining the camp of over 1,000 members of the regiment.

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.(3)

As part of the process of mustering into their regiment, the recruits were required to swear an oath. This oath dated from the very birth of the United States Army on June 14, 1775 when the Continental Congress passed the act creating the Continental Army. Congress included the text of the oath in the act and required it for all citizens enlisting as soldiers with the officers taking a similar oath. The wording evolved somewhat between the American Revolution and the beginning of the Civil War and Congress would change it again in July of 1862. The oath that Oliver Case and the recruits of the 8th Connecticut swore to on September 27, 1861, likely read as follows:(4)

I, Oliver Cromwell Case, do solemnly swear that I will bear true allegiance to the United States of America, and that I will serve them honestly and faithfully against all their enemies and opposers whatsoever, and observe and obey the orders of the President of the United States, and the orders of the officers appointed over me according to the rules and articles for the government of the armies of the United States.

Mustering In_edited

Recruits are sworn into the United States Army as part of the mustering process[v]

Oliver Case was now a soldier in the Army of the United States of America and on his way to fighting President Abraham Lincoln’s war to preserve the Union.

 

ENDNOTES:

1. Morris, W.A. Croffut and John M., (1869), The Military and Civil History of Connecticut: The War of 1861-1865, New York, Ledyard Bill.

2. Billings, John D., (1887), Hard Tack and Coffee or The Unwritten Story of Life in the Army, Boston, George M. Smith and Company.

3. Buckingham, Samuel Giles, 1812-1898. The Life of William A. Buckingham, the War Governor of Connecticut. Springfield, Mass.: The W.F. Adams Company, 1894.

4. “Oaths of Enlistment and Oaths of Office,” U.S. Army Center of Military History, https://history.army.mil/html/faq/oaths.html, accessed 12 January 2020.

[v] (Billings, 1887)

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