September 17: Soldiers & Sailors Arch Dedicated in Hartford

  On September 17, 1886 — the 24th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam — thousands of spectators and Civil War veterans gathered in Hartford to partake in the dedication of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park. Hartford’s Memorial Arch was the first permanent triumphal arch memorial in the United States, and…

September 13: Union General John Sedgwick Born in Cornwall

  One of Connecticut’s most influential Civil War figures, Major General John Sedgwick, was born in Cornwall on this day in 1813. After attending prestigious academies in Sharon and Cheshire, Sedgwick attended West Point and graduated as a member of the Class of 1837 alongside several other future generals who would serve on both sides…

August 10: The First Union General to Die in the Civil War

  Today in 1861, Eastford’s Nathaniel Lyon – a little-known figure the day before – instantly became one of the most celebrated figures in the United States when he was shot in the chest at Wilson’s Creek, Missouri, making him the first Union General to die in the Civil War. Lyon’s death came as the…

June 8: Civil War Composer Henry Clay Work Dies at 51 in Hartford

  Henry Clay Work, one of the most popular songwriters of the Civil War era, died today in 1884 at age 51, while in Hartford visiting his mother. Work, who composed such still-sung songs as “Marching Through Georgia” and “Kingdom Coming” (you know the tune), was born in Middletown in 1832 into an activist family…

May 9: Radical Abolitionist John Brown Born in Torrington

  On this day in 1800, abolitionist John Brown was born in a humble saltbox house in Torrington, Connecticut. The fourth of eight children, Brown left Torrington at the age of five when his father moved his family to the Western Reserve of Ohio.   As a young man, Brown briefly returned to Connecticut to attend…

April 25: Winchester Takes Aim At The Rifle Industry.

  In early 1857, businessman Oliver Winchester bought a controlling interest in a struggling Connecticut firearms company from two inventors by the name of Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson (who would soon move to Massachusetts to found a second and successful eponymous firearms venture of their own).  With access to machine tools, raw materials, and…

April 1: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” Takes America By Storm

  On this day in 1852, the final installment of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published in The National Era, a weekly abolitionist newspaper.  Written in the popular sentimental and melodramatic style of the mid-19th century, Stowe originally envisioned her story as a brief tale that would “paint a word picture…

March 17: Connecticut Statesman and Civil War Hero Joseph Hawley Dies

  Perhaps best known as a Civil War general who served in the First Battle of Bull Run, the Siege of Petersburg, and other notable engagements, Connecticut’s Joseph R. Hawley proved to be an equally accomplished leader off the battlefield, as one of Connecticut’s foremost statesmen of the late 19th century. A graduate of Hamilton…

March 5: Abraham Lincoln Speaks in Hartford

  In early 1860, sectional tensions between the northern and southern regions of the United States were approaching the breaking point over the topic of slavery and its expansion into the western American territories.  Even though it was a crucial presidential election year, the two major political parties had yet to select their running candidates,…