On a recent day trip north into the great state of Connecticut, we stumbled upon another great US Civil War Monument. Well to be honest it was more like we were driving through Hartford and I picked up the scent. You know if you are really into monuments, especially Civil War ones, you just know where they are, you can feel their presence.
And here is the great General Griffin A. Stedman in all his bronze splendor sitting in Barry Square on Campfield Avenue. Standing with an impressive mass the stature and pedestal stand around 21 feet tall. The bronze statue of Steadman sits atop a tan granite pedestal with several bronze plaques affixed to the faces of the granite.
The park is well maintained with green grass and an iron fences with a locked gate at the front. After walking around to the right of the front, we entered and were able to get up close and personal with the man and the legend. But to be honest I had never heard of Steadman or the 11th Connecticut or Campfield. Turns out it is a pretty interesting topic with leads that stretch all over the city.
Now for those wondering why Steadman is so important, the The Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut says,
“It memorializes a highly regarded general, evokes the early scenes of enlistment and mustering in for seven regiments that Hartford sent to the war, and in its dedication ceremony brought together for the last time many of the men who participated in these events.”1
General Griffin A. Steadman
Griffin Alexander Stedman was born Jan. 6, 1838, in Hartford, Conn., son of Griffin A. and Mary ApOwen (Shields).3 Stedman, at 26 years old was a distinguished citizen of Hartford. Elaine Kidd O’Leary from RootsWeb tells the story as such:
“…passed his youth and early manhood in his native city. His education was received in the schools of which Hartford is so justly proud, he graduating from Trinity College June, 1859. He began reading law in Philadelphia, entering the office of S. H. Perkins, a leading lawyer of that city. When the attack on Sumter was made he at once joined the Washington Greys of that city, but on learning that Col. Colt, of Hartford, was raising a regiment for the Fourteenth U. S. Infantry, he exchanged to that command in May, 1861, just as it was taking up its quarters on the very grounds which are now marked by this young hero’s statue.”3
In 1861 he joined Connecticut’s 14th Infantry Regiment, but almost immediately became a captain in the 5th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers. As things do with a brilliant military career, he got attention and was eventually made Lt. Col. of the 11th Connecticut. He was fatally wounded while in command of the 11th on August 5, 1864, at Petersburg, Va and died the next day with a battlefield promotion to General being bestowed him as he lay dying..
11th Regiment, Connecticut Infantry
So who were the 11th Connecticut? After being organized in Hartford in Late October / Early Novemberof 1861 the moved down to Maryland . They were attached to the famous (infamous?) General Ambrose Burnside’s Expeditionary Corps till April of ’62. The sons of Connecticut also served with the Army of the Potomac as well as the Department of Virginia, mustering out on December 21, 1865 after the occupation of Richmond.. The 11th saw action in some of the thickest battles of the civil war. In 1862 the saw actions from South Mountain to Antietam and at the Battle of Fredericksburg, Va., In 1864 they participated in the Battle of Drewry’s Bluff and in the engagments about Cold Harbor and Petersburg . Then they dug in and joined the siege operations against Petersburg and Richmond June 16, 1864, to April 2, 1865. The bore witness to the Mine explosion or better know as the “Crater”. Finally they finished up the war with the taking of Richmond.
According to Elaine Kidd O’Leary’s research,
“…Stedman’s remains were sent under escort to New London, Conn., the summer home of the family, and Aug. 13, 1864, his body was temporarily interred, with military honors, in Cedar Grove cemetery in that city. On Aug. 20, 1875, his remains were removed from New London to Hartford, and reburied in the family lot in Cedar Hill cemetery, where they now repose, a handsome and elaborately carved sarcophagus of military
design marking his last resting place.”3
He can still be found there and it is worth a trip to visit the grave. Cedar Hill has an excellent bio of the General as well.
A General Cast in Bronze is Revealed
The monument was dedicated on October 4, 1900. The Hartford Daily Courant said that it was “probably the last great gathering of the veterans of the war that will be seen here.” The parade route from Bushnell Park was decked out in bunting on both homes and places of business. The Hartford Times also devoted two pages to covering the event, under the heading “Camp-Field Monument,” because the regiments initially had camped at this location when mustered in. The “brilliant and impressive procession” included veterans of the 5th, 8th, l0th, 14th, 16th, 22nd, and 25th regiments.”
George M. Frederickson, author of the The Inner Civil War: Northern Intellectuals and the Crisis of the Union wrote about the monument saying this,
“This statue [the Camp-Field Monument] is faithful, but cannot convey to you the indescribable something in his bearing and manner by which you realized that you had met a man. It fails to disclose the kindly smile that made you feel a welcome words cannot express. He was strong of
heart and true of purpose, and withal tender as a woman; self-reliant, but always considerate of others.”
An excellent set of photos of the Campfield Monument resides at FlickR.
An also excellent survey and detail of the Monument can be found on the The Connecticut Historical Society Web Site.
1 The Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, Connecticut.
3 Elaine Kidd O’Leary – Rootsweb Excellent History of Griffin Steadman
5 George M. Frederickson, The Inner Civil War: Northern Intellectuals and the Crisis of the Union (New York:
Harper & Row, 1965), p. 184.