— Cpl. Robert Brodie's sword, on display Saturday at Central Connecticut State University, is forever jammed in its scabbard by a bullet that probably would have killed him.
The Connecticut cavalry trooper's close call is among thousands of stories that will be told over the next four years as the state marks the 150
anniversary of the Civil War.
On Saturday, CCSU launched the four-year history lesson with opening ceremonies coordinated by the Connecticut Civil War Commemoration Commission. The day's events began at about 10 a.m. with a parade featuring state military units from the Revolutionary Governor's Foot Guard to modern camouflaged soldiers.
The Connecticut Blues Fife & Drum Corps from Durham played the national anthem as the American flag was raised outside the Student Center. Speakers included U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, who recounted the cost of the war to the state and nation. The equivalent loss in lives today would be 6 million, Blumenthal said, and that the war's result was not only a Union triumph, but also "a moral victory."
State Veterans Affairs Commissioner Linda Schwartz recounted how wealthy Darien businessman Benjamin Fitch kept a promise to care for Civil War veterans and their families. Fitch's Home For Veterans and Their Orphans, which operated from 1864-1940, was the precursor to the state Veterans Home and Hospital in Rocky Hill.
"You may not remember this, Mr. Lincoln," Schwartz said, turning to Howard Wright, who was on the dais in the familiar top hat and black frock coat of the 16
president. Schwartz went on to say that Fitch visited Lincoln to remind him of the needs of veterans and their widows and orphans.
"I think he made an impression on you," she said, recounting Lincoln's second Inaugural Address, in which he called on the nation "to care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan."
The Rev. Gary Miller told a story about his 19
century predecessor at Hartford's Asylum Hill Congregational Church, the Rev. Joseph Twichell. As an Army chaplain, Twichell once nursed a wounded South Carolina soldier back to health, an illustration, Miller said, of the powerful role played by people of faith in healing the torn nation.
The CCSU commemoration also included exhibits in the Student Center and elsewhere on campus and an encampment and battle re-enactment at nearby Stanley Quarter Park.
Dotted with white tents and burning campfires, the park hosted both Union and Confederate re-enactors, who squared off on a wide athletic field in the afternoon. Hundreds of spectators drew up beside a chain link fence to watch the blue and grey square off, with booming cannon and the snapping reports of rifles and revolvers.
Commemoration events continue today at CCSU. Visit