Did you know that William Henry Johnson, the first African-American from Connecticut who volunteered to serve in the Civil War, enlisted in the all-white Eighth Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry in September 1861? Later African-American volunteers from Connecticut generally joined the all-black Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Regiment. It wasn’t until November 1863, as the North’s insatiable need for soldiers intensified, that the Twenty-ninth (Colored) Connecticut Regiment Volunteer Infantry was formed.
Our collections include the publication “Connecticut’s African-American Soldiers in the Civil War, 1861-1865,” written in 2000 by Diana Ross McCain. You can read it in its entirely on our digital repository.
The digital repository is growing at a record pace, with materials from almost every subject area within our collections. Some of the latest items you will find in the repository are several Civil War diaries, in the Connecticut Soldiers Collection.
Page from the diary of D. Alonzo Smith
The diary of D. Alonzo Smith of Torrington, Connecticut, gives us an inside look at his service with the 19th Connecticut Regiment from 1862 to 1864. Smith served as a prison guard at Fort Ellsworth, Virginia. Above is a page from his diary where he writes “Received a letter from my Wife. a sorce of Comfort.”
The diary of Christopher Boon of Westbrook, Connecticut, tells us that he was wounded in May 1863, with details of his convalescence at a VR hospital in New Haven, Connecticut.
John L. Sage from Cromwell, Connecticut served with Company D, 24th Connecticut Regiment. His diary includes entries from Louisiana and Mississippi dating from September 1862 through September 1863.
Gurdon Robins, Jr., of Hartford, Connecticut, documents battle and camplife in 1863, followed by his experiences as a prisoner of war in Libby Prison.