Unit History – 1st Connecticut Infantry

8 03 2022

Cols., Daniel Tyler, George S. Burnham; Lieut. Cols., John L. Chatfield, John Speidel; Maj., Theodore Byxbee. On April 15, 1861, President Lincoln issued his first call for 75,000 militia to serve for three months and the day following Gov. Buckingham issued his call in conformity therewith. Such was the prevailing enthusiasm that the call of the governor had been anticipated and on the 16th many companies were ready to report with ranks nearly full. One- Rifle Company A of Hartford, Capt. George S. Burnham – had its ranks full and was fully officered. This was the first volunteer company from Connecticut to complete its organization. The various companies rendezvoused at New Haven on April 20, and were at first quartered in the college buildings, then unoccupied on account of vacation. They later encamped in an open field in the western part of the town. The regiment was mustered into the U. S. service on April 22 and 23, and at once began the work of perfecting itself in company and regimental drill. It left for Washington on the steamer Bienville, May 10, arrived at its destination on the 13th, and went into camp at “Glenwood,” 2 miles north of the capitol. As Col. Tyler, who was a West Point graduate and an experienced soldier, was appointed brigadier -general of volunteers, Lieut.-Col. Burnham succeeded to the command of the regiment. On May 31, Lieut.- Col. Chatfield was made colonel of the 3d regiment, Maj. Speidel became lieutenant-colonel, and Capt. Byxbee of Co. B became major. During the first half of June the regiment was stationed at Roach’s mills on the Hampshire & Loudoun railroad. During a short reconnoissance up the railroad at this time George H. Bugbee, of Co. A, was severely wounded at Vienna, the first Connecticut blood shed in the war, save that of the much lamented Theodore Winthrop, who was killed at Big Bethel on the 10th. After being reviewed by the secretary of war, it moved to Falls Church, Va. , and was brigade the 2nd and 3d Conn., and 2nd Maine infantry, under command of Gen. E. D. Keyes. Gen. McDowell’s movement on Manassas began on July 16 , the Connecticut brigade, designated the 1st brigade, 1st division, leading the advance. The command was active during the disastrous battle of Bull Run on the 21st, retiring, from the field in good order, and Gen. Tyler reported: “ At seven o’clock on Tuesday evening, I saw the three Connecticut regiments, with 2,000 bayonets, march under the guns of Fort Corcoran in good order, after having saved us not only a large amount of public property, but the mortification of seeing our standing camps fall into the hands of the enemy.” The 1st remained encamped at Washington until July 27, when its term of service having expired, it returned to New Haven and was mustered out on July 31. The command went out well armed and equipped. Eight companies had Springfield rifles and two Sharp’s rifles. It performed its part well and is entitled to great credit for the motives of pure patriotism with which the members responded to their country’s call to arms. Many of its members afterwards reënlisted in other Connecticut organizations and saw much arduous service. The 1st carried on its rolls 780 men, and though it lost none killed, its casualty list shows 6 wounded, 6 captured and 25 discharged for disability.

From The Union Army, Vol. 1, pp. 274-275

Image: Capt. William Grosvenor Ely, Acting Commissary, Keyes’s Brigade

21 01 2022
William Grosvenor Ely (Source)

William Grosvenor Ely at Ancestry

William Grosvenor Ely at Fold3

William Grosvenor Ely at FindAGrave

Capt. William Grosvenor Ely, Keyes’s Brigade Commissary, On Col. Keyes’s Conduct

19 01 2022



From an officer at the battle of Bull Run we have the following:

Editor Star: On perusing your columns, as usual, on the 31st of July, my especial attention was called to an article entitled “An entirely different statement of the case,” purporting to come from a staff officer who served with distinction at Bull Run.

Having been with Col. E. D. Keyes all day in the hottest of the fight among the last in the retreat at Bull Run, I had an opportunity to notice some of the events of that day. I believe the adage “Give the devil his due,” would be a just one, and for that reason take my pen in hand to do justice to one who conducted himself in the coolest and most commendable manner in the battle and in the retreat at Bull Run. In doing this, I must refute some of the statements of the distinguished (nameless) staff officer.

It gives me pleasure to affirm that Col. Keyes was not seen in full gallop away from his men, between the hospital and Centreville; but that on my informing him that he was getting too far in rear of his brigade, he hastened forward to direct the movements of his brigade, and then rode at a slow pace, keeping his soldiers together as much as circumstances would permit.

On leaving the field of action, Colonel Keyes brought off his brigade in perfect order – in fact the soldiers did not know that they were retreating until they entered the main road to Centreville. As they passed the hospital, the influx of strayed soldiers and civilians was so great as to break the ranks of that, and every other brigade on the road.

After the first charge of cavalry, Gen. Schenck’s command passed by, leaving the rear guard of the retreating column to the last regiment of Col. Keyes’s brigade, viz: The Third Connecticut Regiment, commanded by Col. Chatfield. This regiment did efficient service in repulsing two charges of cavalry, and in assisting the artillery over the bridge, besides which service they brought into camp with them two deserted cannon and sixteen horses.

On the night of the battle, Col. Keyes’s brigade camped at Centreville. The next morning they arrived in good order at Fall’s Church, struck their own tents and sent them to Washington, and camped that night in the deserted camp of the Ohio brigade.

The next morning, by order of Col. Keyes, the Connecticut regiments struck to tents of the Ohio brigade, loaded them on the cars and forwarded them to Alexandria, and at sunset on the 23d ult. Bivouacked in good order near Fort Corcoran.

The above are facts which I can substantiate by high authority in Washington, and by at least 1,500 witnesses to the removals of the camp.

Before closing, let me recall to the distinguished staff officer the good old maxim, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” Moral: Had he been in his place, his patriotic appeals to his own command might have availed much; whereas, out of place he added one to the number, thereby creating confusion.

Wm. G. Ely

(Washington, DC) Evening Star, 8/3/1861

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William Grosvenor Ely has records in both the 1st and 2nd Connecticut at this time. In his after-action report, Keyes refers to him as Lieutenant Ely, however below records show him as a captain.

William Grosvenor Ely at Ancestry

William Grosvenor Ely at Fold3

William Grosvenor Ely at FindAGrave

Image: Pvt. Charles H. Hayes, Co. A, 1st CT Infantry

20 02 2019

Charles H Hayes co A 1st CT

Pvt. Charles H. Hayes, Co. A, 1st CT, as member of 1st CT Cavalry (Courtesy of Ronald Coddington)

Biographical sketch of Charles H. Hayes

Charles H. Hayes at Ancestry.com

Charles H. Henry at Fold3

Charles H. Hayes at FindAGrave

Pvt. David Sloane, Co. E, 1st Connecticut Infantry, On Blackburn’s Ford

11 11 2016

From the First Regiment, C. V.

Centreville, Saturday, July 20th.

We came up to the enemy at Boonsville, and they retired, leaving in a hurry. Our regiment was skirmishing in advance of the column, after which we were placed in the reserve, falling back and letting the next brigade take the lead. At about half-past eleven o’clock we came up with the enemy, and made a bold stand. Our brigade fought for five hours, and we could not dislodge them. We lost Five Hundred men, killed and wounded, the enemy One Thousand. – They came out of their works and bayoneted our wounded. The N. Y. 12th and the Mass. 1st, fought hard, and were cut up very badly. So, you see, we have had some hard fighting. To-morrow we engage them and will drive them. I saw some of the men buried yesterday.

D. A. Sloane

The Danbury Times, 7/25/1861

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Catalogue of Connecticut Volunteer Organizations 

David Sloane at Ancestry.com

Contributed by John J. Hennessy

Capt. Richard Fitzgibbon, Co. H, 1st Connecticut Volunteers, On the Campaign

8 11 2012

Capt. Fitzgibbons, Co. H, of Bridgeport, kindly furnished us with the subjoined statement. He is a gentleman of intelligence, and the information derived from him can be relied upon as accurate. His statement is confirmed by Lieut. Lee, also of Bridgeport, who was side by side with Capt. F. in the engagement at Bull’s Run. Capt. Fitzgibbons has been in active military life about eight years, and now holds a Lieut. Colonel’s commission in the 8th Regiment of our own State militia.

Capt. Fitzgibbon’s Statement

The long roll sounded pleasantly in our ears while encamped at Fall’s Church, and at 2 o’clock P. M., Tuesday, the 16th, we marched to Vienna, where we bivouacked over night. About 6 o’clock the nest morning we took up the line for Fairfax, by way of Germantown. Our division, under the command of Col. Keyes, consisted of the 1st, 2d and 3d Conn., and the 2d Maine Regiments; the 1st and 2d Conn. regiments acted as skirmishers, and marched around Fairfax, while the remainder of the division marched directly forward. As we approached Germantown, we saw a secession flag flying on top of one of the houses. The 8th N. Y. regiment fired two shots at what was supposed to be a masked battery; our skirmishers fell upon their faces, ready to come up after the fire had been returned. The rebel battery fired over them, however. A member of the 8th N. Y. pulled down the flag, as we approached, and ran up the stars and stripes instead. This house was supposed to be the headquarters for the rebels. As we went through Germantown several houses were fired, but I am happy to say that none of our Connecticut troops had any hand in the firing of the buildings. – The house whereon the rebel flag was raised was entered by our men and found to be evacuated by the troops; tables were set, and our men partook freely of what they could find to eat. Our advanced and halted between Germantown and Centerville over night, where we bivouacked. Friday, about daybreak, we marched on for Centreville, where we arrived about noon. We could distinctly hear that an engagement was going on, before we arrived in sight. Several of our officers and civilians saw the engagement; none of our men took part. The secessionists, men, women, and children, followed up the rebel army; as we advanced, they pushed on, and they informed us that there was a great body of troops ahead of us.

Saturday, the 20th, we were notified to cook three days’ rations; that night we packed up, and at tow o’clock in the morning started for Bull’s Run. Our (Colonel Keyes’) brigade led off, until we got about half way, when we were called off into a corn field and filed off, and saw the whole column pass by. the 1st regiment boys felt a little discomfitted at this move, for fear they would not have a chance in the fight. We brought up the rear, and rested about half an hour, when the order came to again forward. This was about 7 o’clock in the morning. We marched into line, and about the first introduction we had was a charge by one of those masked batteries; we deployed a little to get by, ,when the men rallied in good order. Gen. Tyler rode by and praised our boys for their gallant appearance. We [??????]…they returned the fire, but their shots went over us, as we had dropped upon our faces. While in this position we loaded and fired another charge into them. One of our batteries came up and silenced one of their batteries which was playing upon us. As soon as their battery was silenced, the remainder of our brigade came up. We compelled the rebels to retreat, and as we moved on we encountered another battery; the 3d Conn. and the 2d Maine charged and suffered greatly. We then commenced scouting here and there, always putting in a fire when we got a chance. There was a continual fire upon us by their artillery, which was met by our musketry. We kept on fighting, Gen. Tyler assuring us we had won the day. He acted bravely; so did Col. Keyes and Col. Spiedel; Col. Burnham stood by his regiment. Soon afterwards, the order came to fall back, and we did so, not knowing it was a retreat; we were then in good order, and were accompanied by the Zouaves and Schenck’s brigade; saw the Zouaves make a splendid charge on the Black Horse Cavalry of Va.; it was a hand to hand conflict for a few moments with them, and the latter were cut up badly. We kept up a retreat, followed up by the enemy’s artillery and musketry. We saw the dead and wounded being carried from the field, some on blankets and others stretched on muskets. My company brought away six prisoners. We retreated in good order back to Centreville, to where we encamped the night before, arriving about dark. We remained here three hours and then had orders to fall back to Fall’s Church, which is about 25 miles from Bull’s Run. – We staid at Falls Church during Monday, and the next night had orders to march to Camp Upton, where the Ohio troops were encamped; we staid here during the night, and it was at this spot we saved some $200,000 of property, which had been left behind by one of the Ohio regiments. We struck their tents, took them to Alexandria, and loaded some six or eight cars with their trappings,, and about a ton and a half of ammunition. They had the finest camp equippage I ever saw. The War Department gave us great credit for what we had done.

Wednesday night we bivouacked at Arlington Heights; the next day we started for Washington. – We left Thursday afternoon, and arrived at Baltimore at 3 o’clock Friday morning, where we were detained until 6 P. M. waiting for conveyances; left Baltimore arrived at Havre de Grace, where we suffered another detention of five or six hours. We reached Philadelphia Saturday afternoon, and arrived in Jersey City about 4 o’clock Sunday morning; went on board the steamer Elm City at 4 o’clock and reached New Haven at 10.

Hartford Daily Courant, 7/29/1861

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Richard Fitzgibbon Biographical Information

Contributed by John Hennessy

New Blog on 1st CT Volunteers

2 11 2009

Paleontologist William Parker, whom I have mentioned before with regards to the after action report of Colonel George Burnham of the 1st CT Volunteer Infantry, has started a new blog project on the regiment, Three Month Men.  Check it out, and good luck, Bill!