Historical records matching Brevet Brig. General Griffin A. Stedman, Jr. (USA)
About Brevet Brig. General Griffin A. Stedman, Jr. (USA)
Griffin A. Stedman, Jr. (1838-1864) See Griffin A. Stedman, Jr. - Student, Soldier, Legend by Suzanne Mittica
11th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry
The following personal sketch of General Stedman is in main taken from the oration of Col. W.S. Cogswell, delivered at the unveiling of the Stedman monument at Hartford on October 4, 1900:
"General Griffin Alexander Stedman, that gallant and distinguished citizen, soldier and noble man, of whom Hartford is so justly proud, and not less the nation, and whose conspicuous service during the years of the Civil war are perpetuated in an imposing statue in the capital city, descended from patriotic New England stock of English origin whose ancestors came early to the New World. General Stedman was born Jan. 6, 1838. in Hartford, Conn., son of Griffin A. and Mary Stedman. General Stedman 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 in 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 Colonel (Samuel) 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 now marked by this young hero s statue.
Realizing, amid all the excitement and enthusiasm of the time how poorly we were prepared for the struggle, that war was a science, that numbers and bravery could not win battles unless directed by intelligence and skill, young Stedman devoted himself with untiring energy to acquire a knowledge of his new calling. He early showed such aptitude and ability as to attract the attention of Major Baker of the regular army, in charge of the instruction of the battalion, who recommended him for a commission. The enterprise of Colonel Colt was not successful, the battalion was disbanded and the Fifth regiment of Connecticut Volunteers was called for by the governor, who in recognition of Stedman s qualifications, commissioned him as captain of company I.
He left Hartford on July 29, 1861, with the regiment which was assigned to duty under General Banks in the department of the Shenandoah. The regiment was at once called upon to make a series of long and rapid marches up and down the Potomac to cover threatened points, earning for itself the designation of foot cavalry, and becoming thoroughly acquainted with guard and out post duty in face of the enemy. Stedman availed himself with alacrity of these opportunities for improvement, and so impressed Colonel Ferry with his ability that he was selected to command a detachment sent across the Potomac to cover the retreat of our forces after the disaster at Ball s Bluff. He received great credit for the effective manner in which he performed this service. It is a difficult and delicate mission, and seldom accomplished without sacrificing a portion of the picket line on withdrawal. Stedman withdrew the picket line himself and brought back every man. In November 1861, Captain Stedman was promoted to be major of the Eleventh and served with the regiment under Burnside in the expedition to North Carolina, taking part in the capture of New Haven and the different affairs of the campaign.
On June 11, 1862, he was promoted to lieutenant-colonel and returned with the regiment to the Army of the Potomac in time for the Antietam campaign. The regiment formed the advance guard in entering Frederick City and was engaged at South Mountain. In the battle of Antietam, Stedman had command of the right wing of the regiment in the attack on the Stone Bridge, and after the death of the gallant Kingsbury, led in the charge by which it was captured. Here he was severely wounded but refused to leave the field until the regiment was relieved.
On September 25 of that year, Stedman was made colonel and was in commend at the battle of Fredericksburg. Shortly afterward he was ordered to Newport News and then in March 1863, to Suffolk, where he took an active part in the defense during its investment by Longstreet. In June he participated in the demonstration on Richmond and during the rest of the summer and fall was in garrison at Gloucester Point and Yorkstown. In January 1864 the regiment re-enlisted and on its return to the front was assigned to the eighteenth corps; was engaged in the affair at Swift s Creek, May 9, and in the battle Drury s Bluff on the 16th, where he lost nearly two hundred men.
In the latter part of May, Stedman succeeded to the command of the brigade, and went with General Smith s corps to the Army of the Potomac in time to join in the bloody assault upon the enemy s line at Cold Harbor. On June 15 he was present at the capture of a portion of the defenses of Petersburg and subsequently, was engaged in the investment of that place. On August 5, just at the end of the attack which had been repulsed, and while talking with General Ames, he received his death wound. Repeatedly recommended for promotion by his division and corps commanders for personal gallantry and effective service while leading his brigade, his commission as general reached him as his life was ebbing away. The shot that gave Gen. Stedman his mortal wound passed through his stomach. He lived until the following morning, dying Aug. 6, 1864. Gen. Ames, in announcing to Gen. Ord the fact of the receiving of the mortal wound, stated that he had lost one of the finest soldiers in the army."
The chaplain tells of the death of Gen. Stedman: "He lay in his own tent, within sound of the enemy's guns, with his face turned towards their lines, but his eyes turned heavenward. His staff were about him, and others from the eleventh. The tide of life ebbed away gently at the last. The soul was free, and the body at rest; but the soil which drank that blood is ours, and shall never be abandoned."
The doctor also gives the following reminiscence: "While the force of strict rules, and splendid external management, at first controlled the regiment, Gen. Stedman slowly substituted for these a chivalric feeling, a corps d'esprit that made every private as anxious to uphold the reputation of the regiment as the commander himself. The tinge of patriotism which made every man individually adore himself as a hero and martyr of liberty was brushed away; and they felt themselves soldiers, links of a chain, pieces of machinery, but pieces that were conscious of the glory which was earned by the whole, and that strove for it unitedly, and each in his place . . . It only remains for me to lay the friend's wreath of immortelles upon the grave on which they have written, Brig. Gen. Griffin A. Stedman."
Stedman's remains were sent under escort to New London, Connecticut, 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 August 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. On the base of the tomb appears the highly appropriate inscription: Brave, just, generous and pure, without fear and without reproach.
On what is known as Campfield in the southern part of the city of Hartford, the Campfield Monument Association erected what was designated as The Campfield Monument. Campfield was made historic during the Civil war by its being the camping place and mustering-in point of many Connecticut regiments. To mark this field and commemorate the memories that cluster about it, this monument was erected by the association, who likewise determined upon having it surmounted by a portrait statue of some typical Connecticut volunteer, one whose military history was linked with the field, and it was unanimously agreed upon that of Gen. Griffin A. Stedman. The Committee in charge has crowned the pedestal on which are inscribed the names of the regiments that were here mustered into service with a statue in bronze of one who was, in fullest measure, a type of the citizen soldier of the Republic. Of one who represented in marked degree the patriotism, courage, determination, intelligence, and self-sacrifice that animated the great army by which the nation was preserved. The monument was unveiled Oct. 4, 1900.