Monday, April 11, 2011

Southbury During the Civil War

What was Southbury, Connecticut like 150 years ago as the Civil War began?  The town's population was 1,346 (compared to 20,000 today).  Of those, 71 men enlisted and 17 were drafted to meet Southbury's apportionment/  Most of them went to the 2nd Connecticut Heavy Artillery regiment or the 20th Connecticut Volunteers where they were lead by Colonel William Wooster, a noted abolitionist of Southbury.

In those days, soldiers were paid by the town.  When President Lincoln needed an army, he had to request men to be sent by each State.  Each state was apportioned their "fair" share of soldiers.  In Connecticut, the town's were then asked to provide their share of soldiers.  For Southbury  that was 88.  To pay for them, the town passed an ordinance to raise $20,000 in taxes.  Here is a quote from the ordinance:

“Whereas it appears that the Governor and Legislature of this State whose duty it is to be informed of the condition of affairs are apprehensive of attacks of hostile forces upon this State & upon it’s Citizens & upon their Property & and whereas at present we have no organized or armed force to repel invasion in case the apprehensions of the Governor & Legislature should be realized and whereas it is expedient & necessary to raise volenteers for the purposes of crushing this rebellion and ending the war…” 


The war was good for Southbury's economy as its manufacturing sector in South Britain along the Pomperaug River (where one factory building remains as well as other foundations) was kept very busy supplying materials.  The Ira Bradley Woolen Mill provided material for the uniforms (now know as the Hawkins Trap Factory building).

This and more was retold by John Dwyer at the Southbury Historical Society (where Ed is on the Board of Trustees) at the Annual Meeting on April 9th.  Below is a photo of John on his recreated bango.  To hear his performance, click here.

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