The Stamford Historical Society Presents Stamford’s Civil War: At Home and in the Field a 2003 Exhibit and more
by Thomas A. Zoubek, Ph.D., Executive Director, Stamford Historical Society
This Civil War Exhibit aims to re-examine this national conflict through the lens of local history. The Civil War had a number of lasting repercussions for the community of Stamford, both for soldiers in the field and for citizens working on the home front.
The Civil War laid the foundation for community-wide aid societies along with an expanded role for women.
The Civil War home effort stimulated the establishment of a coordinated aid society aimed at raising money and supplies for the troops passing through Stamford and serving from Stamford. The Ladies Soldiers’ Aid Society, an outgrowth of the national Sanitary Commission, boasted a membership that included women from all the major Christian churches and denominations represented in the community. Many of these women came from the upper class, although overall members from diverse social and economic classes were included. Some of those who contributed were also more recent immigrants. This Society provided clothing, bandages and various supplies for the troops. It is seen as a precursor to the later Stamford Racial Council and the Council of Churches and Synagogues, most recently reorganized as The Interfaith Council of Southwestern Connecticut.
The Civil War was a leveling agent in society.
Stamford’s population was largely a community of English ancestry until c.1850. The coming of the railroad brought large numbers of Irish immigrants, and between 1850 and 1870 the population grew from slightly over 6,000 to almost 10,000. Most of this growth was the result of this Irish immigration. Initially, the Irish were not well received; however, the Civil War provided an occasion for the Irish to show their patriotism, devotion, and sacrifice for their adopted country. The rolls of the Stamford soldiers show a significant minority of Irishmen in the ranks. The Irish contributed to the war effort at home through monetary contributions as well as materials in kind. By the war’s end, the Irish were very much more a part of Stamford and many were hired shortly thereafter as laborers for Stamford’s industrial sector and its most notable company, Yale & Towne.
The war also provided an opportunity for many poor sons of the working class to show their mettle. A large number of the men were the sons of workers from Stamford’s Cove Mills.
Stamford’s soldiers participated in some key battles and contributed significantly to the Union victory.
More Stamford men served in the 28th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry (188) than in any other; however, there were companies of Stamford soldiers also in the 3rd, 6th, 10th, 13th, and 17th regiments. Stamford also sent a number of African-Americans to the 29th . Amongst the significant battles in which Stamford soldiers figure prominently, are 1st Bull Run, Gettysburg, Chancellorsville, Fort Wagner, and Port Hudson. While contributing a few officers, such as Samuel Peter Ferris, Colonel of the 28th, most Stamford men were privates who lived and fought in the trenches. Noah Webster Hoyt, in his five volume diary, provides a glimpse of the life of sacrifice and strain faced by these men, many of whom disease claimed as victims. While most of the roughly 550 men returned hale and hearty from the field of battle, some 100 of their number died, most from disease.
The community recovered quickly from the conflict, one which had done much to unite its formerly disparate population.
By putting Stamford’s Civil War story on our website, we hope we can serve the community in additional ways.
The Stamford Historical Society would like to acknowledge the support of the following without whom the exhibit could not have been realized:
- The Connecticut Humanities Council for a $2500 implementation grant.
- The Civil War Roundtable for support with research, loans of material and providing a speaker.
- Guy DeMasi for serving as Guest Curator, for help with research and loans of material, and for speaking and reenactment at the opening of the exhibit.
- Margaret Bowen for help with research, labels, mounting and countless other duties.
- Jennifer Peters for her work with the uniforms and flags, and reenactment at the opening of the exhibit.
- Dorothy Mix for transcribing letters, working with the Hoyt Diaries, and researching the Ladies Soldiers’ Aid Society.
- Ron Marcus for researching and writing the biographies of the Hometown figures.
- Irene Hahn for finding and printing images of soldiers and citizens, formatting tables and charts, and for putting the exhibit on the SHS website.
- Haideh Molavi for her work mounting images and texts.
- Steve Laird and Bill O’Brien for speaking at the opening of the exhibit.
- Lara Scalzi for reenactment at the opening of the exhibit.
- DeMasi Decorative Painting for refurbishing the Halliday Gallery, painting cases, walls, etc., and hanging the portrait.
- Lockwood Mathews Mansion for the loan of the two mannequins.
The exhibit committee also included the following people who greatly facilitated the preparation of the exhibit:
Walter Wheeler III
|American Civil War (Excerpt from America’s Wars and Casualties)|
|Last Union Veteran: Albert Woolson, died 8/2/56, age 109
Last Confederate Veteran: Disputed.*
Source: U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, July 1998
|Confederate Deaths in Service*
|* Authoritative statistics for Confederate Forces are not available. An estimated 28,000 Confederate soldiers died in Union prisons. In the VA press release, the last Confederate veteran is listed as John Salling.|