Waterbury in the Civil War

Letters from the Front

Andrew McClintock, John Chatfield, Alexander McNeil and Henry Peck were among the 942 Waterbury men to fight in the Civil War. Their stories are told in diaries and correspondence, photographs and paintings, uniforms and flags.

More about this exhibition

The focus of the exhibit is Andrew McClintock, a machinist at the American Cap & Flask Company. Upon hearing of Lincoln’s call to arms at a City Guard Meeting, McClintock delivered an emotion-charged, patriotic speech that resulted in the city’s offer of services to the nation. He was among the first of the city’s young men to enlist for an anticipated duty of ninety days. While in service, he wrote many letters home to his sister Jane that describe camp life, health and sickness, run-away slaves, battle preparations and his longing for home.

Alexander McNeil’s story of fighting at Gettysburg is also highlighted, as are Captain Peck’s deliberations on the development of the soldier’s character and his fight against the temptations of drinking, smoking, and card-playing.

Battlefield accounts such as one provided by Colonel John Chatfield’s stir us today with his words that describe “the terrible storm of shrapnel, canister, grape, hand grenades and bullets that carried dismay into the hearts of soldiers.” Chatfield, who served as the commander of the 6th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, was mortally wounded in the assault on Fort Wagner. He is buried at Riverside Cemetery.

All those who served are commemorated in this exhibition.