CONNECTICUT’S CIVIL WAR
First, highest ranking, oldest
Nathaniel Lyon, born in Ashford in 1818, was the great nephew of Thomas Knowlton, the Revolutionary War commander of rangers. After attending West Point, Lyon fought in Indian conflicts in Florida and California, the Mexican War, and in the war over the future of Kansas in the 1850’s. At the outbreak of the Civil War he found himself in Missouri, poised to help keep that state from leaving the Union.Lyon was promoted to Brigadier General in May of 1851 and was given command of federal troops in Missouri.On August 10 Lyon died in the Battle of Wilson’s Creek. He was buried in Eastford on September.4.
The first Union general killed in the war was from Connecticut
Joseph K.F. Mansfield, born in New Haven in 1803, was already in his late fifties at the outbreak of war. But he was a career officer of vast experience and was one of the first promoted to Brigadier General, just three weeks after the outbreak of war. He wanted corps command, which he received shortly before the Battle of Antietam On September 17, while personally leading men of XII Corps, Mansfield was shot in the chest and died the following day. He was just short of 59 years old. Mansfield’s home in Middletown is the headquarters of the Middlesex County Historical Society and may be visited.
The oldest Union general to die in battle was from Connecticut
John Sedgwick,born in Cornwall Hollow in 1814, had an early career similar to those of high-ranking generals on both sides. He was a graduate of West Point and a veteran of the Mexican and Indian Wars.He was promoted to Brigadier General in August 1861 and to Major General in July 1862. Sedgwick was twice wounded, but when he returned to action he became commander of the Sixth Corps.He died in May 1864 at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House. Two magnificent monuments to Sedgwick stand with yards of each other in Cornwall Hollow, one erected by the Sixth Corps and one by friends and family.
The highest-ranking Union officer to be killed in action was from Connecticut
General Joseph Mansfield of Middletown commanding land defense at the Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac