Civil War News
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Update On 2 Connecticut Monuments At Antietam
By Paul B. Parvis
August 2002

SHARPSBURG, Md. — Sometime during the 20th century, a thief callously removed the bronze State Seal of Connecticut plaque from the Gen. Joseph K.F. Mansfield monument located near the Smoketown Road in the East Woods on the Antietam Battlefield.

The replacement of the monument's plaque became the challenge for the not-for-profit reenactment and historic preservation organization, Company G, 14th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865, Inc. The group successfully raised the necessary $3,700 to reproduce the bas-relief bronze piece and will rededicate the monument on Sept. 13.

Company G, 14th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, engaged Bruce Papitto of Westerly, R.I., to sculpt the work. The preservation committee chose him due to his earlier, excellent production of the 16th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry monument plaque, and he produced yet another work of art.

Due to the lack of any conclusive evidence regarding the original, with the exception of size 11.25 inches by 15.75 inches, the committee sought a prototype suitable for the project. Happily one surfaced quite easily. With enthusiastic approval from the Antietam National Battlefield Superintendent's office, the Mansfield piece replicates the one on the Major-General John Sedgwick equestrian monument at Gettysburg.

The preservation committee was excited about the image on the Sedgwick monument given its late 19th-century stylistic qualities and the fact that it appears on a Major-General's monument. Moreover, Sedgwick, like Mansfield, was a native son of Connecticut.

To accomplish the task of reproducing the plaque, the following organizations generously donated resources toward the fundraising goal: DiSanto Bertoline & Co. P.C.; Enterprise Systems Groups of Hartford, Conn.; Antietam National Battlefield Preservation Fund; 8th Regiment Connecticut Volunteers, Co. A, Inc.; Company G, 14th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865, Inc.; Military Order of The Loyal Legion of The United States; and individual donors too numerous to mention.

Gen. Joseph K. F. Mansfield, a 40-year veteran of the regular army, assumed command of the Twelfth Corps a few days prior to the Antietam battle. He sustained a mortal wound in the chest while deploying regiments and divisions of his corps near the east woods in support of General Hooker's First Corps troops during the early hours of the conflict on Sept. 17, 1862. He died the next day. The family retrieved the body for burial in Middletown, Conn.

To commemorate and honor Major-General Mansfield, the State of Connecticut erected a monument in 1900 near the stone outcropping where he reportedly was shot. One hundred and two years later, we are very pleased to have rendered the Mansfield monument "whole" again.

No other battlefield "hosted" more Connecticut troops during the Civil War so we gladly seized the opportunity to help preserve this and the other monuments at Antietam such as the 16th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry also missing a bas-relief plaque due to vandalism (Civil War News, October 1998). As an aside, our preservation efforts truly raises the "hobby" to a higher level of importance for us and is integral to our raison d'être and mission.

Last fall, the Antietam National Battlefield staff, led by Jane Custer, securely fastened the bronze plaque to the red granite base. The Mansfield monument will be rededicated at 2 p.m. on Sept. 13 and the public is cordially welcome to attend.

The ceremony will feature a short presentation by Superintendent John Howard, color guards from the 8th and 14th Regiments of Connecticut Volunteer Infantry augmented by friends from the 5th and 6th New Hampshire Regiments, and the firing of a salute to honor Connecticut's fallen soldiers as well as all others who fought that day to preserve the Union.

In 1997, Company G, 14th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865, Inc. and the Connecticut Historical Society raised over $11,000 to replace the bronze plaque on the monument to the 16th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Monument.

Like the 14th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, the 16th CVI mustered into service in August 1862. Even more ill-prepared than the 14th, they were part of Harland's brigade which crossed the Antietam to the south of the lower bridge at Snavely's Ford and ended up in Otto's corn field on the afternoon of Sept. 17. As part of the Union's left flank, they were mercilessly attacked and "used up" by Gen. A. P. Hill's veteran troops and therefore sustained extremely high number of casualties for their first "outing" as a regiment.

This monument's very artistic and sophisticated bronze plaque had been stolen. Bruce Papitto labored over 200 hours creating the clay and plaster models, then after two castings, spent more time cleaning and chasing the piece. Thanks to a very large gift from a donor who had an affinity for the Ninth Corps, the project concluded in 1998.

The bronze was presented to Antietam National Battlefield Superintendent John Howard in September of that year in the Christ Reformed Church, UCC. The church is known for the stained glass "Connecticut" windows presented by survivors of the 16th CVI, several of whom convalesced there following their "baptism by fire."

For more information regarding the Mansfield Monument rededication, contact Paul Parvis at (860) 233-4481 ext. 125 or pbparvis@cleanweb.net.

For more information about Company G, 14th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, 1862-1865, Inc. and the original regiment's history and service with the Second Corps, visit www.14thconnecticut.org

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