PeterRobJon

Research trip blog, looking at how an artillery unit that formed at Wesleyan University in Middleton, Connecticut as the 4th CT Volunteer Infantry documented its war history as well as learning more about my great-great-grandfather, a member of the unit from May of 1861 until September of 1865.

Questions? Comments? Reach me at: dr.jonlewis at gmail dot com
Wed Nov 11

PRJ says thank you to all veterans for their service.

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Tue Jul 28
The dedication page of the Samuel Proal Hatfield Photo Album, Special Reserves, Wesleyan University.
I am deeply grateful to Wesleyan for allowing me access to these materials; this image and the four others are their property, used here by permission.
The text reads:
WE ARE COMING FATHER ABRAHAM
HOW WE ANSWERED THE CALL
PASS IT DOWN
That our children’s children may see with their eyes as we saw with our eyes, the scenes and places of the great War for the Union. Lest we and they forget.
Abraham Lincoln issued the first all for three-year service, May 1861. 42,00 men, The 4th Conn. Infantry was the first regiment in the U.S. to be mustered in under that call, May 22, 1861. Designation changed to 1st Conn. Artillery Jan. 9, 1862. As such served through the war. Mustered out Sept. 25, 1865.
This volume shows part of what we saw. To my comrades of the First Connecticut Artillery and children. S.P. Hatfield Late Major, 1st Conn. Artillery

The dedication page of the Samuel Proal Hatfield Photo Album, Special Reserves, Wesleyan University.

I am deeply grateful to Wesleyan for allowing me access to these materials; this image and the four others are their property, used here by permission.

The text reads:

WE ARE COMING FATHER ABRAHAM

HOW WE ANSWERED THE CALL

PASS IT DOWN

That our children’s children may see with their eyes as we saw with our eyes, the scenes and places of the great War for the Union. Lest we and they forget.

Abraham Lincoln issued the first all for three-year service, May 1861. 42,00 men, The 4th Conn. Infantry was the first regiment in the U.S. to be mustered in under that call, May 22, 1861. Designation changed to 1st Conn. Artillery Jan. 9, 1862. As such served through the war. Mustered out Sept. 25, 1865.

This volume shows part of what we saw. To my comrades of the First Connecticut Artillery and children. S.P. Hatfield Late Major, 1st Conn. Artillery

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Original letter from Major Samuel Proal Hatfield to Wesleyan University upon the delivery of the Album. This is on the inside of the front cover. The text reads:
PRESENTED to THE LIBRARY OF WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY 1915 “Co. G”, 4th Connecticut Volunteers was organized by the students and mustered into State service in April. The regiment was offered to the United States as part of the State contingent of troops for three months’ service. It was not accepted as such, but its services were requested for three years, to which the regiment aggreed and were mustered May 22, 1861. It was the first regiment mustered into the United States service for the long term. The designation was changed in January, 1862, to “1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery” and as such served through the War.
This album shows some of the scenes through which the regiment and students from the University passed, and me of interest as a record of the peculiar nature of its services. (Artillery [hand-written by Hatfield])
It is desired to be of record, that of the students thus engaged, at the last, in the breaking of the Confederate line at “Fort Mahone,” Petersburg, April 2, 1865, the University was actively represented and the supply of ammunition to the Union Troops maintained through the day, when repeated attacks were made to recover the fort. By breaking the Confederate line here, Richmond was evacuated that night and the Confederacy dissolved like a broken bubble. Wesleyan was part of the bayonet point that broke it up, and the Union was saved.
Many of these pictures were taken by the photographer under my personal direction. The facilities for photo making were not equal to those of the present day.
[signed] S.P. Hatfield
Class of 1862, “Corporal G. Co” [hand-written]
Major, 1st Conn. Artillery
Ordnance Officer Seige (sic) Train
Armies Operating Against Richmond, 1864-5.

Original letter from Major Samuel Proal Hatfield to Wesleyan University upon the delivery of the Album. This is on the inside of the front cover. The text reads:

PRESENTED to THE LIBRARY OF WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY 1915 “Co. G”, 4th Connecticut Volunteers was organized by the students and mustered into State service in April. The regiment was offered to the United States as part of the State contingent of troops for three months’ service. It was not accepted as such, but its services were requested for three years, to which the regiment aggreed and were mustered May 22, 1861. It was the first regiment mustered into the United States service for the long term. The designation was changed in January, 1862, to “1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery” and as such served through the War.

This album shows some of the scenes through which the regiment and students from the University passed, and me of interest as a record of the peculiar nature of its services. (Artillery [hand-written by Hatfield])

It is desired to be of record, that of the students thus engaged, at the last, in the breaking of the Confederate line at “Fort Mahone,” Petersburg, April 2, 1865, the University was actively represented and the supply of ammunition to the Union Troops maintained through the day, when repeated attacks were made to recover the fort. By breaking the Confederate line here, Richmond was evacuated that night and the Confederacy dissolved like a broken bubble. Wesleyan was part of the bayonet point that broke it up, and the Union was saved.

Many of these pictures were taken by the photographer under my personal direction. The facilities for photo making were not equal to those of the present day.

[signed] S.P. Hatfield

Class of 1862, “Corporal G. Co” [hand-written]

Major, 1st Conn. Artillery

Ordnance Officer Seige (sic) Train

Armies Operating Against Richmond, 1864-5.

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Close look at Robert’s portrait in the Samuel Proal Hatfield Collection at Wesleyan University.

Close look at Robert’s portrait in the Samuel Proal Hatfield Collection at Wesleyan University.

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Robert’s portrait along with three other images in the Samuel Proal Hatfield Album. His picture is quite small, but blows up beautifully. There is a small amount of damage on his nose, but I used Photoshop to attempt to clean it up as well as bring out other details in the original. For example, one can begin to see the crossed cannons on his coat buttons.

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Sun Jun 21

Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to Pete, as well as John, John, Robert, Hugh, and John up the line. And to all the other dads in the family.

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Fri May 29
The Lewis family Bible. Yep, that’s a bullet hole. My cousin Marc Louis Salerno has it; it was given to him by his grandmother, ‘Peggy,’ Margaret Jessie Shields Ellsworth, who got it from her mother, Mary Ann Lewis Shields, youngest child of Robert and Mary McCloskey Lewis.
It was published in 1867 and has an interesting hole in the cover—a hole that penetrates deep into the Old Testament. Family story has it that Robert wore it in combat, tucked in his jacket and over his heart, and that it saved his life during the Civil War. Obviously, there’s an error here, as the War was over before this Bible was printed. However, in the family history, meticulously kept by first Mary McCloskey and then Peggy Shields, it notes that Patrick McCloskey, Mary’s brother and Robert’s fellow member of 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, was killed at Cedar Mountain in 1868.
After the Civil War, the Grand Army of the Republic was largely mustered out. Robert and Patrick were mustered out in September of 1865. However, it appears likely that Patrick, and, given the Bible, the story, and his service in Persia and the Civil War, Robert re-enlisted in the Army and went west in the wars against Native Americans. Cedar Mountain was in fact the site of a battle between Federal Troops and the Northern Paiute bands, including the Shoshoni who were called the Snakes by the whites, in 1868. I will be investigating this possibility asap—but Robert M. Lewis may have seen more of the world—Ireland, England, Afghanistan, India, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, and the West Coast of America—than most humans who have ever lived. He had an amazing life, but how much did he love war and killing? It’s an important question, and my grandfather, Robert’s grandson, called him a mercenary and didn’t want to display his portrait or his tools of war, his musket and sword, in the family home. Was he simply a professional soldier, good at his craft? Or something more sinister?
The Bible lists all of Robert and Mary’s children, including several who died in infancy or childhood:
Mary Ellen (1869-76) This must have been a terrible loss; their first child and at age seven.
Joseph (10.21.1870-2.23.1929) The oldest surving sibling. The Bible notes that he “died at work in Hartford,” but not if he got married or had children.
William Robert (9.11.73-1.8.17) “found dead in bed”— In addition to being buried with them, William is listed as living with Robert and Mary in the 1880 Census, and with his parents and brother John Patrick in John Patrick’s household in the 1900 Census. It might be possible that he had Down’s Syndrome or a form of autism. On further thought, given when he lived, perhaps William had contracted polio, TB, or suffered with lingering effects from measles, rubella, or other diseases now commonly vaccinated against.
Margaret Ann (4.18.75-2.14.76) She lived only 9 months.
George (2.10.1877-10.6.1965) Longest lived of the siblings. In 1902, George married Renie DeMore who died in 1960. Bible does not mention their children.
John Patrick (1.22.1879-6.20.1960) Married Alma Dessureau. They had one son, John Joseph Lewis. He married Martha Emma Susana Abrahamson, and they had three children and seven grandchildren.
Susan Katie (7.3.1881-3.9.1967) She married Carl Nelson. They had a daughter, Hazel Nelson. She was the last of Robert and Mary’s children to pass.
Clara Mariah (12.3.1883-9.5.1884). Like Margaret Ann, lived only nine months.
Mary Ann (11.20.1884-1.1967). She married Michael Charles Shields. They had two children, Lewis ‘Jack’ Shields and Margaret Jessie ‘Peggy’ Shields, who married Howard Strong Ellsworth.
Going back two generations, the Bible lists Robert’s siblings as Margaret Ann Lewis who married Richard McGibon (they lived in Glasgow, Scotland where he was a ship-builder), John Lewis, William Lewis who died in Belfast in 1870, and Ellen M. Lewis.
Robert’s father was Hugh Lewis who married Mary Ellen Maynor; her parents were John and Margaret Cunningham Maynor. Hugh’s brother was named Robert and their sister was named Mary Jane. Hugh’s family appears to have lived in the village of Ballysculty, Killead Parish, County Antrim in Ulster, Northern Ireland. Hugh’s parents, John and Ellen McKeag Lewis, were married in 1785 in Killead. A trip to Ballysculty is clearly required during my lifetime.

The Lewis family Bible. Yep, that’s a bullet hole. My cousin Marc Louis Salerno has it; it was given to him by his grandmother, ‘Peggy,’ Margaret Jessie Shields Ellsworth, who got it from her mother, Mary Ann Lewis Shields, youngest child of Robert and Mary McCloskey Lewis.

It was published in 1867 and has an interesting hole in the cover—a hole that penetrates deep into the Old Testament. Family story has it that Robert wore it in combat, tucked in his jacket and over his heart, and that it saved his life during the Civil War. Obviously, there’s an error here, as the War was over before this Bible was printed. However, in the family history, meticulously kept by first Mary McCloskey and then Peggy Shields, it notes that Patrick McCloskey, Mary’s brother and Robert’s fellow member of 1st Connecticut Heavy Artillery, was killed at Cedar Mountain in 1868.

After the Civil War, the Grand Army of the Republic was largely mustered out. Robert and Patrick were mustered out in September of 1865. However, it appears likely that Patrick, and, given the Bible, the story, and his service in Persia and the Civil War, Robert re-enlisted in the Army and went west in the wars against Native Americans. Cedar Mountain was in fact the site of a battle between Federal Troops and the Northern Paiute bands, including the Shoshoni who were called the Snakes by the whites, in 1868. I will be investigating this possibility asap—but Robert M. Lewis may have seen more of the world—Ireland, England, Afghanistan, India, Connecticut, Virginia, North Carolina, and the West Coast of America—than most humans who have ever lived. He had an amazing life, but how much did he love war and killing? It’s an important question, and my grandfather, Robert’s grandson, called him a mercenary and didn’t want to display his portrait or his tools of war, his musket and sword, in the family home. Was he simply a professional soldier, good at his craft? Or something more sinister?

The Bible lists all of Robert and Mary’s children, including several who died in infancy or childhood:

Mary Ellen (1869-76) This must have been a terrible loss; their first child and at age seven.

Joseph (10.21.1870-2.23.1929) The oldest surving sibling. The Bible notes that he “died at work in Hartford,” but not if he got married or had children.

William Robert (9.11.73-1.8.17) “found dead in bed”— In addition to being buried with them, William is listed as living with Robert and Mary in the 1880 Census, and with his parents and brother John Patrick in John Patrick’s household in the 1900 Census. It might be possible that he had Down’s Syndrome or a form of autism. On further thought, given when he lived, perhaps William had contracted polio, TB, or suffered with lingering effects from measles, rubella, or other diseases now commonly vaccinated against.

Margaret Ann (4.18.75-2.14.76) She lived only 9 months.

George (2.10.1877-10.6.1965) Longest lived of the siblings. In 1902, George married Renie DeMore who died in 1960. Bible does not mention their children.

John Patrick (1.22.1879-6.20.1960) Married Alma Dessureau. They had one son, John Joseph Lewis. He married Martha Emma Susana Abrahamson, and they had three children and seven grandchildren.

Susan Katie (7.3.1881-3.9.1967) She married Carl Nelson. They had a daughter, Hazel Nelson. She was the last of Robert and Mary’s children to pass.

Clara Mariah (12.3.1883-9.5.1884). Like Margaret Ann, lived only nine months.

Mary Ann (11.20.1884-1.1967). She married Michael Charles Shields. They had two children, Lewis ‘Jack’ Shields and Margaret Jessie ‘Peggy’ Shields, who married Howard Strong Ellsworth.

Going back two generations, the Bible lists Robert’s siblings as Margaret Ann Lewis who married Richard McGibon (they lived in Glasgow, Scotland where he was a ship-builder), John Lewis, William Lewis who died in Belfast in 1870, and Ellen M. Lewis.

Robert’s father was Hugh Lewis who married Mary Ellen Maynor; her parents were John and Margaret Cunningham Maynor. Hugh’s brother was named Robert and their sister was named Mary Jane. Hugh’s family appears to have lived in the village of Ballysculty, Killead Parish, County Antrim in Ulster, Northern Ireland. Hugh’s parents, John and Ellen McKeag Lewis, were married in 1785 in Killead. A trip to Ballysculty is clearly required during my lifetime.

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Thu May 28
"Captain" Robert M. Lewis’ grave in the Miner Cemetery in Middleton Connecticut. As a brevet promotion was honorary, Robert could use ‘Captain’ as his title in correspondence, but his last official army position was 1st Lieutenant.Also in the family plot are his wife, Mary McCloskey Lewis, their sons John Patrick and William, their daughter Susan and her husband Carl Nelson (who fought in the Spanish-American War as part of Co. G, 1st Connecticut Volunteer Infantry), John Patrick’s wife Alma Dessureau Lewis, and my grandparents, John Joseph and Martha Abrahamson Lewis.The cemetery is a lovely piece of land, quiet and verdant. A fine resting place.Requiescat in pace.

"Captain" Robert M. Lewis’ grave in the Miner Cemetery in Middleton Connecticut. As a brevet promotion was honorary, Robert could use ‘Captain’ as his title in correspondence, but his last official army position was 1st Lieutenant.

Also in the family plot are his wife, Mary McCloskey Lewis, their sons John Patrick and William, their daughter Susan and her husband Carl Nelson (who fought in the Spanish-American War as part of Co. G, 1st Connecticut Volunteer Infantry), John Patrick’s wife Alma Dessureau Lewis, and my grandparents, John Joseph and Martha Abrahamson Lewis.

The cemetery is a lovely piece of land, quiet and verdant. A fine resting place.

Requiescat in pace.

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Wed May 27

Maj. Samuel Proal Hatfield’s Photo Album

At the Wesleyan University Special Collections; their exhibit on “Wesleyan in the Civil War” is extraordinary, particularly the Samuel Proal Hatfield Photo Album. Robert’s portrait was on display, but tiny! I expected it to be a full-scale portrait, but it actually about the size of a business card. It’s still quite striking to see his image, as my father’s face is so similar to Robert’s. I don’t know if Ms. Suzy Taraba, University Archivist and Head of Special Collections, included Robert’s image in the display because I contacted her, but it was a touching moment to be sure. The portrait is on page 17 of the album, during the Yorktown campaign. A Lt. J. Cummings is also seen on this page along with an image of a dock built by 1CHA for loading the siege train on the Robert Morris for travel up the York River. Caption: “Co’s L&M remained to care for guns and material.” Fourth image on page is of Ager, Burton, Doull (Maj 4th NY Arty) Sedgwick, S.H. Perkins, Hatfield, Broaker, and Gilbert at the mouth of the “Cornwallis Cave” at Yorktown, originally used by Gen. Cornwallis during the Revolutionary War and then used by Confederates as a magazine during the campaign.

Maj. Hatfield’s album is a treasure; not only did he compile a record of 1CHA’s activities, but he identified many of the officers and enlisted men in some of the famous images of the unit including Gibbons, Harmon, Broaker, Douglas, and Jackson in the Battery 4 image at Yorktown. On the famous ‘Dictator’ image, Hatfield identifies the officers as: Capt. Pratt (Robert’s C.O. in Co. L); Capt. Dow, Gen. Abbot, bearded and in front; Gen. Hunt, Chief of Artillery, Army of the Potomac, w/ field glasses; Lt. Col. Trumbull (2nd from right, slightly blurry); and then two unidentified members of Gen. Hunt’s staff.

Once the album gets to Fredricksburg, the division of the regiment is seen; my great-great-grand-uncle, Patrick McCloskey, Private in Co. M, was with Meade’s men for several battles including Fredricksburg. Co. M was on the Riverside Road and across the Rappahannock from the main fighting as part of Lt. Colonel Trumbull’s batteries above the town. Good place to be. I have not yet found anything else about Patrick, but will continue to look for him.

A drawing, perhaps from a photograph, shows Redoubt Dutton on the Bermuda Hundred Line with caption: “Occupied by Co. L Capt. Price. Assaulted June 9, 1864 by 22nd S.C. –Confed.—Regiment. Col. Dantzler, which was repulsed with great loss. The Colonel himself killed. The assault was made in thick fog.” I assume that Robert was part of this battle as 1st Lt. of Co. L, but I have not seen reports from this engagement. Further questions to explore—never a bad thing.

At Drewry’s Bluff, Mrs. Hatfield appears in two pictures. It was apparently not unheard of for wives and even full families to travel with the units and attempt to keep a kind of house near the campaigns.

On the whole, it is a wonderful album. The album has title cards, beautifully rendered with white text on dark fields. The entire album shows that Hatfield made every effort to present the history of the 1CHA as not just a history lesson but an aesthetically appealing experience.

Because they were in different companies, Robert is not in the album but for his portrait, but I am certainly indebted to Maj. Hatfield for the album. Pvt. McCloskey is not in the album that I can see, but it is a testament to the regiment’s total service. As Hatfield states at the beginning of the album, “that our children’s children may see with their eyes, as we saw with our eyes, the scenes and places of the great War for the Union lest we and they forget.” Once I have full permission to post from the album, I will post several pictures I took of the album. I am greatly indebted to to Ms. Taraba and her staff for accomodating me at Wesleyan’s Olin Library.

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Tue May 26
Hold on with a bull-dog whip and chew and choke as much as possible. Lincoln to Grant during the Siege of Petersburg.
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