In the summer of 2010, while doing research for a walking tour for the Hartford Preservation Alliance, I came across the story of William Murphy, a Civil War veteran who drowned in Hartford’s Park River in the fall of 1868. His funeral service, organized by members of Nathaniel Lyon Post No. 2 of the Grand Army of the Republic, rivaled in scope and attendance that of Governor Thomas Seymour held just the day before.
I couldn’t resist trying to find out something more about this veteran. Searching through the archives of the Hartford Courant led me to lists, published every May, of veteran grave sites and extensive coverage of Decoration Day ceremonies. Looking up Private Murphy’s war service led to the records of service of all the Connecticut Regiments and their regimental histories.
My initial project was to put together a list of Civil War veterans buried at Cedar Hill Cemetery and maybe do a walking tour there. I was then asked to put together a list of the Hartford servicemen who died during the war for the rededication of the Soldiers’ and Sailors Memorial Arch in Bushnell Park.
But I couldn’t stop there. So the history geek in me kicked in and I’m continuing on to document the Civil War veterans (numbering over 1,500) and notable citizens buried in Hartford cemeteries: Old North, Holy Trinity, Spring Grove, Zion Hill, St. Patrick, Cedar Hill and Mt. St. Benedict (technically located in Bloomfield but the final resting place for many of the Catholic veterans who lived in Hartford). My ultimate goal is to put together a database of the veterans and their service records that will be available online through this website and at the Hartford Public Library’s Hartford History Center and the Connecticut State Library. And with any luck, this will be completed by the 150th anniversary of Lee’s surrender to Grant at Appomattox on April 9, 2015.
So bear with me as I start uploading the information I already have and add to it as the months (and years?) go by. I’ll also be including information on the resources I’ve come across to help others doing their own Civil War research. And feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a question on a particular veteran or Hartford civil war topic – and please let me know if you have a photograph of a Hartford veteran that we can share here.