14th Connecticut Volunteers Collection
This collection was assembled by Thomas La Lancette in the course of his research on the life of Elijah Gibbons, the captain of Company B of the 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, who was killed in the Battle of Fredericksburg in 1862. The regiment was raised over the summer of 1862 as it became apparent to the North that the war could drag on for years. It was comprised of men who volunteered for a term that could last up to three years, drawn largely from central Connecticut. Capt. Gibbons and most of his men in Company B came from Middletown. The 14th was involved in many of the most significant engagements of the Civil War. Shortly after it was deployed it participated in the Battle of Antietam. This was followed by Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Overland Campaign, the Siege of Petersburg, and the Appomattox Campaign.
The collection consists of original manuscript material, archival materials copied from other collections, published sources from the 19th century, and photocopies of rare published primary sources. The largest set of manuscript sources is a collection of 72 letters written by William Digby Smith to his wife. Smith, an Irish immigrant and locksmith from Middletown, wrote to his wife on average every few weeks between September 1862 and May 1865 alternating tales of running into former neighbors with harrowingly detailed descriptions of combat and its aftermath. There is also a manuscript notebook containing personal reminiscences recorded years later and a history of Company B, a carte de visite of Elijah Gibbons, and a letter from Imri Spencer, a sergeant in Company F from Voluntown, describing the hostility faced by Federal troops in Maryland.
Photocopied supplementary material includes correspondence, reminiscences, and photographs as well as pension records, morning reports, and other similar archival materials. These documents were copied from repositories like the National Archives, historical societies, and private collections.