Friday, August 19, 2011

Middlesex County Historical Society Featured in Civil War Tour

Connecticut’s Civil War Treasure Troves, A Travel-Tour Adventure


Join historian and author Bill Hosley on Saturday, September 24, 2011 for a day-long bus trip to some of Connecticut’s most important Civil War collections and sites.

When & Where:

We will depart from and return to the CT Historical Society (8:30am) from 1 Elizabeth Street at the corner of Asylum in Hartford.

This trip is part of the Civil War 150 Commemoration.

The Scoop:

Though Connecticut suffered massive losses and contributed mightily to the economic and technological superiority that enabled the Union victory, no battles were fought here, our Generals aren’t famous and there is no major museum or destination of the kind found in Richmond, Charleston, New Orleans and the dozens of battlefield sites scattered from Gettysburg to Vicksburg.

But, Connecticut has outstanding Civil War material in the public domain – scattered among dozens of museums, public buildings, veteran’s halls and libraries – places that preserve and present evidence of our involvement in the first great modern war. This trip will visit and explore four of the best:

Winsted: Winsted has three Civil War monuments including one of the most elaborate and picturesque as any landmark in Connecticut. The crown jewel of Winsted’s Civil War heritage is collections from the defunct Palmer Post GAR (Grand Army of the Republic veteran’s society) at the Winchester Historical Society’s Solomon Rockwell House.

Middletown: The Middlesex County Historical Society, housed in the General Joseph Mansfield house, has, since it’s founding in 1901, amassed collections related to the man, the town and the War. To commemorate the 150th, the Society mounted "Hard & Stirring Times: Middletown and the Civil War," an object-rich, state-of-the-art history exhibit that will remain on view through 2018. The day of our visit the there will be reenactors, story-tellers and an array of things to see and do.

Rockville: The New England Civil War Museum, housed on the Second Floor of Rockville’s glorious 1889 ”Memorial Building” / town hall is one of the last and best of the many GAR Post facilities that numbered in the dozens a century ago. These museum-like fraternal repositories provided a platform for collecting and preserving evidence of Connecticut in the war. The best, like this, were elaborately ornamented with stained glass, custom-designed cases, libraries, smoking rooms and collections. In addition to the Civil War Museum, Rockville’s Veterans Memorial tower at Fox Hill Park (1939) is worth a detour. This is an eye-popping discovery for those who’ve never seen it.

Hartford: Connecticut’s State Capital is so rich in Civil War-related collections and attractions that it’s hard to see it all in one day. Our visit will start at the State Capitol. Dedicated on the anniversary of Antietam, 1879, the Capitol was designed as a “memorial hall” that deliberately merged civic and memorial functions, incorporating art, artifacts and galleries to museum-like effect at a time when museums were few and far between. The highlight of Connecticut’s Capitol is Battle Flag Hall where visitors will find the nation’s largest collection of Regimental Flags, a statue to War Governor William Buckingham, and a Gatling gun made at Colt’s Armory. The Capitol is embellished with statues and bas-relief portraits honoring Connecticut war Generals Alfred Terry, John Sedgwick, and Joseph Hawley and Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles. On the Capitol grounds are statues including Bella Lyon Pratt’s “Andersonville Boy” and a rare and monstrously destructive 13” seacoast mortar In nearby Bushnell Park is architect George Keller’s 1886 Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Arch - a masterpiece with its famous terra cotta frieze illustrating scenes from the war. Across from the Capitol is the Museum of Connecticut History, home of the state’s premiere display of Colt’s Manufacturing Co. material and “Connecticut for the Union” a state-of-the-art Civil War history exhibit featuring an extraordinary collection of relevant and documented Connecticut objects, firearms , artifacts, uniforms and more.

The day concludes with a reception and show and tell of Civil War treasures at Connecticut Historical Society.



$70 per person | $60 for CHS members. Your fee includes:

• Bus transportation, all site admissions and tour narration • Box lunch and en route refreshments

• Ample free parking for the day • Post-tour reception and special viewing of selected Civil War

Collections at the Connecticut Historical Society

To register:

• Online: • Or, by phone with credit card: call Mary Muller at (860) 236-5621 x209 • Or, mail your check (payable to: Connecticut Historical Society, memo - bus trip) to CHS, Attention Mary Muller, One Elizabeth Street, Hartford, CT 06105

CHS is located at 1 Elizabeth Street in Hartford at the corner of Elizabeth & Aslyum. To learn more, visit


About Connecticut Historical Society:

Founded in 1825, The Connecticut Historical Society is a non-profit museum, library, research and education center. We strive to inspire and foster a life-long interest in history and facilitate a passion for learning about history through research assistance, exhibitions, tours and programs for all ages. To learn more, visit or call 860.236.5621.

About the Tour Guide, Bill Hosley:

William Hosley, Principal of Terra Firma Northeast, is a cultural resource consultant, planner, teacher, writer, and photographer. He was the former Director of the New Haven Museum and Connecticut Landmarks. Prior to that, as a curator and exhibition developer at Wadsworth Atheneum, Bill organized award-winning exhibitions including The Great River: Art & Society of the Connecticut Valley and Sam & Elizabeth: Legend and Legacy of Colt's Empire.. Bill originated and co-curates “Historic Hartford” and “Creating Sense of Place for Connecticut” on Facebook.

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