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Civil War Reenactment, Sep 29-30

Date: Saturday - September 29, 2012
Location: Wickham Park, Manchester CT

Connecticut & the Civil War

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Connecticut Commemorates the Civil War is a collaborative effort by the state’s many historical societies, museums, libraries, and universities to study and inspire public awareness of the American Civil War and Connecticut’s involvement in it.

Perhaps the most trying period in the nation’s history, the War of Rebellion rocked America to its very core.  Some 620,000 soldiers perished (recent scholarship argues the more accurate number is 750,000)and every aspect of the society, both north and south, was unalterably impacted.  

Connecticut was no different.  The little Constitution State sent 55,000 men to war, which represented 12% of the total population.  For men between the ages of 15-50, the number was actually 47%, a remarkable figure unparalleled in the state’s history.   Connecticut created 29 infantry regiments, as well as light and heavy artillery units and cavalry units.  Connecticut industry produced massive amounts of weapons and other war materiel.  Some historians note  that the state supplied a full third of Union weaponry.

Yet support for the Union and its war against the South was not the only aspect of the state’s struggle.  From the moment Fort Sumter was fired upon, dissent arose against “invading”  the south.  A significant part of the population, as much as 40% or more opposed the war and gave tremendous political strength to Peace Democrats, who did all they could to stop Governor William Buckingham’s support for President Lincoln and the war.   As much as the actual military struggle impacted Connecticut, so too did the political struggle.

Much of the turmoil circled around the contentious issue of slavery and race.  In contrast to what many today might believe, Connecticut was not a bastion of abolitionist thought.  Indeed, the Nutmeg state had a long and deeply engrained tradition of anti-black racism that inevitably impacted how they saw the war and why it was being fought.  

This is a history that everyone should know, as it defines the state that we are today.  Understanding the Civil War is not merely a quaint reflection of the past, but an important component of wrestling with how we arrive at our present.  Join the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission and our many organizational partners as we spend the next four years (2011-2015) considering our past, present, and future.  


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