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December 14, 2017


I enjoyed this presentation Lesley is a very good speaker and the topic was compelling. - Steve Clayton
An interesting presentation about a very unique unit. Top notch speaker. - Douglas Galuszka
Great topic. Leslie is knowledgeable and very engaging. Her presentation didn’t excuse the cowardice but, explained the expectations for these “cream of the crop citizens" coupled with the lack of training ultimately leading to the point of meltdown. It’s apparent that leadership failed them as well. Some empathy does creep in as one takes in the totality of the price they paid for being inept. - Bob Hazen
I really enjoyed Professor Gordon's lecture. She is an excellent speaker, knows her subject well and is obviously passionate about it.  Her slides helped to enhance her presentation. As an added bonus she was very interesting to talk to before the lecture as she is very knowledgeable about so many aspects of the Civil War.

Thank you Pat for finding her. Perhaps we could bring her back in the future to speak on another subject? - Patricia Miller Clayton
The speaker had it right: the engagement of the 16th at the battle of Sharpsburg set the tone for the rest of their participation in the war.  The 16th cut and ran when hit by  the confederate counteract of A.P. Hill's troops.  Cutting and running is usually a mark of shame. The incident had a psychological impact that made the unit into garrison soldiers.
      In the question period, a member of the audience put a fresh light on their Skiddaddle..   The member said there was no shame here because this was the 16th first engagement; A.P. Hill's troops were battle-hardened, among the best, and greater in number; they hit the 16th flank coming out of nowhere; and the Yankees troops on their sides also fled.  It would have been suicide to stay.  The Union army to that time had not taught its regiments about how to make a orderly retreat under fire.
      With that in mind, their story drew my sympathy and took on the looks of a great tragedy; without that insight, the woe of the 16th seemed like another of those bad breaks that happen in war. -
Jorgen Bader
What a great presentation.  Knowledgeable on the material and great slides. - Steve Murphy
Excellent presentation (even with an hoarse voice). I thought she explained well the regiment and its particular role at Antietam and then the crushing surrender that sent so many to Andersonville. Along with providing us with quality unit/individual participation information, were the good visuals that enhanced the presentation. Very informative and enjoyable. - Ken Bertrand
Go and attend a Civil War Reenactment anywhere in the country. Most of the companies portrayed will be units famed for their battlefield prowess- regiments of the Stonewall Brigade, the Iron Brigade, or perhaps a specialty unit such as Berdan’s Sharpshooters. Thanks to the book “Killer Angels” and the movie “Gettysburg”, you can also bet that at least one company will be doing the 20th Maine!

At the December 2017 meeting of the PSCWRT, Prof. Lesley J. Gordon told us about a very different unit history, that of the 16th Connecticut Infantry Regiment. Using letters, diaries and post-war accounts of 20 men of the 16th, Gordon described how within 24 days(!) of being mustered in, the 16th was thrown into battle at Antietam. Not only that, but they were the left flank of Burnside’s advance when they met the ferocious attack of Confederate General A.P. Hill’s veterans. Exposed, with only the minimum of training and experience, the 16th broke and ran with heavy losses.

If this weren’t bad enough, the regiment was placed in backwater areas away from the main armies, so that they never really had an opportunity to redeem their reputation. They had the very bad luck of being part of the garrison at Plymouth, North Carolina when it was captured by Confederate forces in April, 1864, so the entire unit ended up in captivity, with many confined at Andersonville.

Postwar, while many veterans celebrated the heroic exploits of their units in battle, Gordon pointed out that those of the 16th Connecticut took a different approach. They instead took pride in the suffering they had gone through, seeing it as a positive rather than a negative.

In modern terms, "when life gives you lemons, make lemonade"! -
Mark Terry