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Somo Sentinel Page 3
Letters from the Front
Submitted by Noreen Marchand, Soldiers Monument Commission
James Tuttle's name is listed on a tablet inside Soldiers' Monument. He, as well as his brother Albert, who volunteered and was killed at Cold Harbor, wrote letters home that give a very personal view of the Civil War. The Beardsley and Memorial Library has transcripts of these letters in their genealogy room. The letters make fascinating, and at times, heart-wrenching, reading.
James Tuttle was born in 1842, grew up in Winchester, and enlisted to fight in the Civil War at age 19. He was in the 5th Regiment, Company I as a private. Taken prisoner towards the end of the war, his family was notified of his status by a letter written from the Captain of the Company of the Fifth dated March 31, 1865. James had been with a foraging party on March 19th when he was captured.
A letter sent home from James dated May 24, 1865, states 'I shall be with you
again in a few days. ... I may be home in a week and I may be home in a
month. I cannot tell how long it
will be.' James returned home after leaving parole camp in May
1865. Like so many former soldiers, he died soon after of disease contracted
while in uniform. A notice in April 1866 appeared in the Winsted Herald listed this brief obituary:
Died: In Winchester, near Mill Brook, April 2d, of Consumption, James, son of Joel and Mariett Tuttle, aged 24.
James Tuttle is buried at Danbury Quarter Cemetery.
The following is one of the many letters James wrote in the midst of the conflict. He describes the bloody battle of Cedar Mountain which took place on August 9,
1862. The Fifth Connecticut suffered its heaviest losses of the war in that battle. Though the brigade broke through the Confederate lines, they were not
supported and had to retreat to
August 17th, 1862
I received your letter day before yesterday and have had no time to answer it till this morning. I was in the fight day before you wrote your letter and if you had seen what I went through you would not ask me to fight any harder. Harlen Rugg* was wounded in the fight.
We went into the fight with 48 men and
come out with only 14
in our company and the other company are suffering about the same
loss. Three times our brave boys rallied under the old flag and charged
on the rebels but to only fall back and bite the dust.
Our boys went in for vengeance against the retreat from Winchester and the rebels said that we pulled out of the woods like so many mad
men. When I went back the last
time I came very near being taken prisoner. I had my gun knocked from my hands but I got it again and brought it from the field. Albert is only fifty miles from here now and I think that I shall see him soon. Since the fight we have been reviewed and inspected every day. We lost our national colors and our state flag is shattered into strings but it is worth all the more for that. Poor Harlen I think is crippled for life. He had his shoulder smashed in with the butt of a musket.
Overwhelming numbers and their deadly fire. It was one of the bloodiest fighting ever known and the most bravery shown since the war begun. Our color bearer was shot and then another would catch it and travel the same road. Our men did not know how to run. We came near enough to the
rebels to stab them with our bayonets and rap them with the butt of the
musket. Our brigade was all cut to
pieces. Out of 3000 men in the
brigade only 844 are left. It is
Crawford’s brigade that I belong to.
My clothes was hit twice with ball and my bayonet was broken by
another. It is a wonder how that
ever a man was left in our regiment.
I went in with a broken bayonet and used my gun as a club and had the
satisfaction of making my man.
I wish you would send me your picture and Albert together. Send me some postage stamps. They are six cents apiece here. Tell Albert that if he wants to be decently buried, never enlist for a soldier. If I had fallen, they would dig a hole where I fell and roll me into it and would take no more notice of it. That is the way they serve us here. The rebel prisoners say we are the worst men. We have to contend with our brigade, consists of the 46th Penn regiment, 28th New York, 10th Maine and 5th Conn.
I have no more time now.
From your brother
Direct as before
I will write again as soon as possible.
I cannot write to Father now.
Tell him that I am as well as usual and was not hurt in the fight.
*Harlan Rugg was also from Winchester and is listed on the monument. He answered The Last Roll Call on January 16, 1928.