This is the final entry detailing the letters home of Loren Goodrich of Co. F, 14th Connecticut. The rest of the series– ten parts in all– may be found in the archives of this website.
Loren Goodrich remained with Co. F and the 14th Connecticut for another thirteen days or so, crossing the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers through the Loudon Valley; retracing their steps out of Harper’s Ferry of 1862. The regiment marched on through Bloomfield, Uppersville, Paris, and made camp in Ashby’s Gap by July 22. They pushed on through fatigue and hunger through Manassas Gap and to Front Royal. Regimental historian Charles Page notes by July the 24th, the army had so far outmarched their supply that they were angry, bordering on mutinous. Indeed, ten members of the 14th were arrested for foraging liberally off the land without orders (Page 173-4).
By Sunday July 25th, the 14th crossed Warrenton, Virginia. They remained in place at Warrenton for a few days. According to Page, the 14th had by then marched some 400 miles since they’d left their camp near Falmouth in June. The unit marched again for Elk Run and Morristown on July 30. Between these two locations is the unincorporated village of Bristersburg. It was here, while on picket duty, that the strain of the hard marching and fighting finally overcame the veteran Goodrich, and he succumbed, unable to march any further. He relates the story in his own words in his final letter home:
Armory Square Hospital
Washington D. C. Sept 10 1863
It gives me pleasure to write a few lines to you on this beautiful day. I hope that this will find you well and enjoying the fruits of your labors. I have been sick for a short [fact?]. I was taken down sick while I was doing picket duty at Bristerburgh. I was more worn out by the hard marching. I thought once that I could stand any-thing but the toughest have to come down sometimes.
I am getting better now and the doctor has put me in the invalid detachment as a guard for the hospital so that I am having a very easy time of it. Now you would not think to look inside of the hospital that it was one but some nice hotel it is done of by rooms they are called Wards. There are 40 single beds in each one. The[y] are all covered over by mosquetos [sic] nets. Everything is kept clean and looks nice.
It has been some time since I have heard anything from you. I have a letter for some days. I think I should like to hear from you, for it does one good to hear from home to know what is going on. I see by the newspapers that they had had quite a time of it out in Kansas and that Chauncey was one of them supposed to be killed. I should like to have you write in your next letter whether it is so or not.
It is very pleasant here. I have been around most of the principle [sic] buildings. I have not got a great deal of news to write this time so I will bring my letter to a close. Please write soon direct your letter to Loren H Goodrich, Armory Square Hospital Guard Washington D. C.
I send my best respects to you
I remain your well wisher
Loren H Goodrich
The Armory Square Hospital Goodrich was sent to was a 1,000 bed facility established in 1862 to tend to the hundreds of injured flowing out of the Virginia battlefields. Goodrich remained in the hospital through all of August and perhaps the first week of September, when he was assigned temporarily to the Veteran’s Reserve Corps— an organization for those no longer fit to serve in the field, but that still might have the ability to serve out their term of duty as clerks, hospital stewards, prison or fortress guards, and the like. Many men with greater wounds than Goodrich were put to those uses in the defenses of Washington City, and it was clearly the hope and intent that Goodrich would be able to serve as well. He was never formally transferred to a VRC detachment, and indeed, was discharged from the army on November 28 1863 with an Honorable Discharge.
Loren Goodrich returned home to Wethersfield Connecticut late in 1863, where his wife Adeline (Covell) was waiting for him. The two had married the day before he’d headed off to the seat of war the year before. He’d endured a baptism of fire only a few weeks later at Antietam, suffered a grueling Virginia winter in the field. He survived the raking fire from Marye’s Heights at the battle of Fredericksburg, slogged through endless heaps of mud in Burnside’s ill-fated Mud March. He fought at Chancellorsville, chased Lee into Pennsylvania, helped repulse Pickett’s Charge, and chased Lee back into Virginia. In a regiment that suffered nearly 90% casualties over its first year of service, Goodrich had defied the odds to return to his loved ones battered, but alive.
Adeline gave Loren four children– Ellen (b. 1866), Emma (b. 1868), Charles (b. 1870) and Ida (b. 1873.) Loren appears in the 1870 census as a 29 year-old blacksmith at 67B School Street in East Hartford (the current site of the East Hartford Fire Department), across the river from his old Wethersfield home. His wife, first three children, and brother Chauncey all lived with him (clearly Chauncey defied the expectation of the Kansas report that Goodrich asked about in 1863.) By 1880, Chauncey had moved out, but the rest of the family remained in East Hartford. In February of 1880 at the age of 39, Goodrich applied for his Federal pension on the grounds of disability. His request was granted. Like so many of the men who fought and survived, the toll taken on Goodrich’s body was brutal, and he was unable to maintain his profession. In 1882, Goodrich suffered another blow, when his beloved Adeline passed away on November 9; she only 37 years old. Adeline was interred just two miles from their home, down the ironically named “Burnside Ave,” at Center Cemetery in East Hartford.
City directories show that Goodrich remained at the School Street home through at least 1895. Chauncey moved back in to live with him soon after Adeline’s passing. Chauncey made his living as a farmer; Loren’s occupation remained listed “blacksmith”; though given his government pension, it seems unlikely he was able to actually work. More likely, he was a convalescent in declining health through his 50s, and Chauncey was with him to take as good care as he could of his veteran brother. Loren last appears in the city directories in 1895.
By 1900, Loren is listed as a resident at Fitch’s Home for Soldiers in Darien Connecticut. Fitch’s was America’s first veteran’s hospital, having been erected in 1864 by Benjamin Fitch from his own five acres of land, constructed a chapel, library, and residence hall; and donated $100,000 of his own fortune for its upkeep, in order to tend to the veterans of the Civil War, and the orphans created by the war. When Fitch passed in 1883, the state of Connecticut assumed responsibility for the facility.
The decline of Goodrich’s health must have been so great as to require full-time care that Chauncey could not provide, necessitating the move to Fitch’s Home. When Goodrich resided there, the facility housed more than 500 other veterans and orphans of veterans. Loren Goodrich remained at Fitch’s Home until his death on the 5th of May, 1909 at the age of 69 years. Loren’s remains were returned to East Hartford where they were interred next to his beloved Adeline, who he’d missed for so many years.
Loren Goodrich’s letters home were gifted after his death to the Connecticut Historical Society where they are housed in the public archives, available for access by appointment. While his home (and those of his neighbors on that side of the street) were demolished in order to build the East Hartford Fire Department building, his gravestone and that of Adeline remain intact in Center Cemetery. In October of this year, I had the opportunity to visit them, and pay respects to Private Loren Goodrich, Co. F 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry; and his wife Adeline.
On behalf of a grateful nation, thank you Private Goodrich, for your faithful and honorable service.
Goodrich, Loren H. “Letters.” Letter to Joseph Wells. 10 Sep 1863. MS. Connecticut Historical Archives, Hartford, CT.
Page, Charles D. History of the Fourteenth Regiment, Connecticut Vol. Infantry. Meriden, CT: Horton Printing, 1906. Print.