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Double Duty in the Civil War

The Letters of Sailor and Soldier Edward W. Bacon

Edited by George S. Burkhardt

Publication Year: 2009

Editor George Burkhardt has brought together letters and diary entries of Edward W. Bacon, a Union sailor and soldier who served as a captain’s clerk in the navy and as a captain in the 29th Connecticut Infantry (Colored). The correspondence gives a unique view of ship and camp life and makes evident the close-knit family life Bacon enjoyed, particularly with his father, Leonard Bacon, a prominent minister who spoke against slavery.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press


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Title Page

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p. vii


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p. ix

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pp. xi-xiii

As usual, people from all over the United States and some from abroad helped, encouraged, corrected, and advised during this endeavor. Always it is refreshing and grand that total strangers will expend time and effort to assist in clarifying a Connecticut Yankee’s Civil War letters ...

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pp. 1-9

By the hundreds of thousands, northern men answered the call to arms during the Civil War, moved by patriotism, a sense of duty, idealism, peer pressure, or—sometimes—just a longing for adventure or a desire for the hefty bounties paid to some volunteers. Most were young men, ...

Part One: The Sailor, 1861–62

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(1) High Seas Hunt

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pp. 11-31

Edward Woolsey Bacon turned eighteen as other young men volunteered for service when the Civil War began in 1861. “My duty urges me to it,” wrote a South Carolina youth on April 14, 1861, and a German immigrant declared it was his “holy duty” to soldier for the Union. An Illinois ...

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(2) Riverine Warfare

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pp. 31-50

Rightly or wrongly, Bacon decided to return to the north with Palmer, arriving at Hampton Roads in late January. From there he went to his home in New Haven. Palmer, meanwhile, faced an inquiry into the Sumter affair. Semmes, Palmer’s nemesis, correctly ...

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(3) Turning Point

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pp. 50-80

While the navy had demonstrated its ability to pass Vicksburg’s guns, Farragut and his men could do no more than that. The North needed ground troops to capture the “Gibraltar of the West,” and soldiers simply were not available in sufficient numbers. Ships and crews served no purpose ...

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Part Two: The Hospital Clerk

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pp. 81-86

Bacon apparently bade farewell to the Navy without much regret and with scarcely a backward glance. Now he no longer feared dying “in the most unpleasant manner,” as he had written a friend. Yet he could talk about “smoke and shell” as loudly as he pleased, because he had ...

Part Three: The Soldier, 1864–65

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(1) 29th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry (Colored)

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pp. 87-111

“How long, O God, how long must this cruel war desolate our once fair and happy country,” cried a twenty-eight-year-old Southern woman in late November 1863. Northerners echoed her lament. Though they had escaped the shortages, hard times, and destruction the war brought to the ...

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(2) Trench Fighting, Virginia

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pp. 112-140

With little warning and in secrecy, in early August the army shipped the 29th Connecticut and other black units from South Carolina to Virginia.1 Much had happened there since Bacon left Maryland in early April. In May Grant had launched his three-pronged spring offensive, with mixed results ...

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(3) Promotion and Victory

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pp. 140-164

As 1864 ended, many believed that the South had run out of time, space, men, and materiel. Yet Confederates stubbornly continued the struggle, and most Federals expected that more hard fighting lay ahead. Early in 1865 Colonel Robert W. Barnard, 101st U.S. Colored Infantry, wrote home, “I do not see ...

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(4) Occupation Duty, Texas

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pp. 164-174

Black troops had fast become unwelcome in the South and Border States. Strongly prejudiced, President Andrew Johnson set the tone when he denounced them as insolent, undisciplined, domineering, depredatory, and disorderly. He also charged they would likely aid black insurrections ...

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(5) Homeward

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pp. 175-180

Bacon's plea for rescue produced results. Sister Rebecca read, then immediately forwarded the letter to their father, away on vacation. She conveyed a sense of urgency in a cover letter that was probably written in late August 1865.1 Leonard Bacon wrote both Amos B. Eaton, now the army’s commissary general, and U.S. Senator ...

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pp. 181-183

Edward W. Bacon resigned from the Army on November 20, 1865, and was honorably discharged by the Military Division of the Gulf on January 8, 1866.1 Footloose and uncertain for a while, he soon ventured upon a new career. Almost certainly his father ...

Abbreviations Used in Notes and Bibliography

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pp. 187-188


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pp. 189-228


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pp. 229-245


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pp. 245-258

E-ISBN-13: 9780809386499
E-ISBN-10: 0809386496
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809329106
Print-ISBN-10: 0809329107

Page Count: 272
Illustrations: 19 b/w halftones, 3 maps, 4 line drawings
Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 459790939
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Double Duty in the Civil War

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Bacon, Edward W. (Edward Woolsey), 1843-1887 -- Correspondence.
  • Sailors -- United States -- Correspondence.
  • Soldiers -- United States -- Correspondence.
  • United States. Army. Connecticut Infantry Regiment, 29th (1864-1865).
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • Connecticut -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Personal narratives.
  • United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Naval operations
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