By the end of the Civil War, one of every nine Middletown men wearing the Union uniform was dead. They included young David Lincoln, who gave his life in the Battle of Fredericksburg on December 13, 1862.
More than 900 soldiers and sailors from the city served during the conflict. They were the sons of old local families, as well as recent immigrants from Ireland, Germany, and England. African American men from Middletown served in the 29th Regiment Connecticut Volunteer Infantry, the state's all-black unit, and in the 31st Regiment U.S. Colored infantry.
Ninety-four Middletown soldiers joined Company B of Connecticut's 14th Regiment, which fought fiercely in nearly every major battle, beginning in 1862. The young soldiers were friends, cousins, classmates and neighbors back in Middletown. At war's wnd, only 23 remained to be mustered out. Some, like David Lincoln, were killed by Confederate bullets; others died frokm diseases that ran rampant through military camps.
By 1874, the city of Middletown erected a statue to honor her 110 soldiers and sailors who gave what Abraham Lincoln in the Gettysburg Address called "the last full measure of devotion" in the bloodiest war in American history. Sculptor Melmar Mosman created the eight-foot bronze infantry soldier scanning the horizon, in anticipation of
the battle ahead. Around the monument's base stand four twelve-pounder cannons seized from the arsenal of the Confederacy which so many Middletown sons helped to defeat.
Hundreds of Civil War volunteers left Middletown as unsophisticated teenagers, nervous and frightened, but eager to see the outside world. After months or years of fear, hunger, courage, pain and comaraderie, they returned home as men, forever changed by the horrors they had encountered.
"The Halt of the Line of Battle," etching by E. Forbes, courtesy of the Middlesex County Historical Society
Stripes On South Green
During the 1700s, New England towns used their greens for grazing livestock. Posting notices, and punishing criminals. Here on Middletown's South Green, public whippings took place from time to time well into the 1800s. Petty criminals, often transients, endured the "stripes" that public officials administered not only as punishments, but as a means of driving the criminals out of town.
This custom gradually fell into disfavor. By the 1840s, South Green had a new name: Union Park. In the ensuing decades, Middletown increasingly treated the open space as a public park, landscaping it with attractive plantings and curving sidewalks where parents pushed baby carriages and children played.
Main Street from South Green stood the 1810 brick home of John R. Watkinson, an English immigrant, and his wife, Hannah Hubbard Watkinson. In 1919, the state of Connecticut purchased the Watkinson house and property to use as an armory. The old house was turned 90 degrees, and a matching structure was built to face it; then the two were joined by a long brick drill shed which faced Main Street.
Following World War II, the armory displayed a large plaque containing the names of hundreds of Middletown residents who served in the war. The National Guard used the armory until the late 20th century.
On this bridge fell good David Lincoln. Though the sight of his poor mangled form forced out our fears, his smile was beautific as he gave us words of love for his young wife. We buried him in the garden.
Chaplain Henry S. Stevens in the "Souvenier of the Excursion to Battlefields by the Society of the 14th Connecticut Regiment and Reunion at Antietam"
In 1789, Middletown resident Joshua Stow billed the town for administering a whipping to Daniel Day, a transient man, for theft.
Courtesy of the Middlesex County Historical Society