The 18th Connecticut Volunteer Regiment


George Cook was a Civil War veteran who fought with the 18th Connecticut Volunteers in a number of significant engagements including the Second Battle of Winchester, New Market, Piedmont, Lynchburg, and Kernstown.

George enlisted as a corporal in the 18th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment, Company I, organized at Norwich, CT, on August 14, 1862. The regiment left the state for Baltimore on the same day. Regimental muster-in rolls have George Cook's muster-in date as August 22, 1862 at Camp Aiken, Norwich, CT. The regiment was on duty at Fort McHenry, and in other defenses around Baltimore until May 1863 when they advanced to Winchester, VA, an unoffending little town that would change hands seventy two times before the war was over. The regiment was engaged at the Battle of Winchester on June 15, 1863. At the time many Confederate and Union forces were making maneuvers which would eventually culminate with the Battle of Gettysburg. Maj. Gen. Robert H. Milroy commanded the 18th Connecticut as part of his division. While at Winchester, he innocently reported a big confederate `raid' building up to his south. On 10 June, he received orders to withdraw to Harper's Ferry, but was slow to obey. Consequently, Lieut. Gen. Richard S. Ewell commander of the Second Army Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia almost captured him. Milroy lost all his guns and over one third of his command including a portion of the 18th Connecticut who were captured after a series of valiant charges as the rest of the army began their retreat. The 18th had 597 killed, wounded, or captured at Winchester but their heroics gave the retreating Union Army the opportunity to escape total destruction. The regiment was paroled on July 2, 1863 (released under oath not to take up arms until exchanged). While prisoner of war, one of the bloodiest conflicts of the war was played out in Gettysburg, PA between the Army of Northern Virginia and the Army of the Potomac. The regiment was exchanged on October 1, 1863. Those who were not captured were on Provost duty (military police) at Hagerstown, MD until September 10, 1863 and then Martinsburg until March, 1864. Exchanged prisoners joined the regiment at Martinsburg. The regiment was at Bolivar Heights, WVA March 7, 1864 to March 28, 1864. They were sent on reconnaissance towards Skinner's Gap in the Blue Ridge Mountains March 16, 1864 to March 18, 1864. The regiment was on furlough from March 28, 1864 to April 9, 1864.

The expedition from Martinsburg to New Market, April 29, 1864 to May 17, 1864, marked the beginning of Operations in the Shenandoah Valley. The 18th Connecticut was engaged in the Battle of New Market on May 15, 1864. The immediate commander of the 18th Connecticut was Major Henry Peale. The 18th Connecticut was part of the First Brigade, Col Augustus Moor; First Infantry Division, Brig. Gen. Jeremiah C. Sullivan; commanded by Major General Franz Sigel of the Union Army. The opposing Confederate army was commanded by Major General John C. Breckinridge. The effective strength of Sigel's command was about 6500, about 5150 men and 22 guns being available in the battle. The losses were 93 killed, 552 wounded, and 186 captured or missing for a total of 831 casualties. The strength of Breckinridge's forces was about 5000. Confederate casualties included 43 killed, 522 wounded, and 13 missing for a total of 577. One of the 18th Connecticut Volunteer Regiment's "Battle Pennants" is on display at the New Market Battlefield Museum. These "Battle Pennants" were used to mark the extreme right and left flanks of the regiment.

The 18th Connecticut was part of the expedition to Lynchburg from May 26, 1864 to July 1, 1864. The 18th Connecticut was commanded by Col. William G. Ely as part of the Second Brigade (transferred from 1st June 8th), Col. Joseph Thoburn; First Infantry Division, Brig. Gen. Jeremiah C. Sullivan; commanded by Major General David Hunter of the Union Army. Hunter started the expedition with 8500 men. He immediately took up the offensive, and, moving up the Shenandoah Valley, met the enemy on the 5th of June at Piedmont where the 18th Connecticut saw action. After a battle of ten hours, the Union Army routed and defeated the enemy, capturing on the field of battle 1500 men, three pieces of artillery, and 200 stand of small arms. On the 18th of June, Hunter united with Crook and Averill at Staunton, increasing his strength to 18,000. The Union Army met the Confederate Army under the command of Generals J.C. Vaughan and J.D. Imboden at Lynchburg on June 17/18, 1864. Hunter succeeded in destroying a great deal of the enemy's supplies. After some skirmishing on the 17th and 18th, General Hunter, owing to a want of ammunition to give battle, retired from Lynchburg.

The regiment moved to Parkersburg, Cumberland, MD, Martinsburg and Harper's Ferry thence to Snicker's Ford July 1, 1864 to July 18, 1864. The regiment was engaged at the Battle of Kernstown on July 24, 1864. The regiment was at Martinsburg July 25, 1864, Charlestown WVA until October 1864, then at Martinsburg to October 29, 1864. Moved to NewHaven, CT, for guard duty at conscript camp guarding drafted men until November 11, 1864. This move may also have been timed to coincide with the presidential elections.

The regiment returned to Martinsburg, WVA and then moved to Halltown on November 23, 1864 where they had duty until June 1865. The regiment was mustered out at Harper's Ferry on June 27, 1865 having lost 71 killed or mortally wounded and 81 by disease or accidents.

The "Battle Flag" of the 18th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry Regiment is on display at the Connecticut State House in Hartford, CT.

18th CT Regimental Roster (courtesy of the National Park Service)

compiled by Frank E. Cook (frank.cook@worldnet.att.net)