No, the 17th did not fight at Bull Run (first or second). But for many soldiers in the 17th CVI the war began much earlier than 1862. With the 150th anniversary of First Bull Run (or First Manassas if you prefer) I’d like to take a moment to recognize some of the soldiers of the 17th who fought in 1861.
First and foremost for me is Charles Walter. In 1862 Walter would muster in as the first lieutenant colonel of the 17th CVI. What many don’t know is that he had just returned home after being captured at First Bull Run in July 1861. His first service in the Civil War was with the 1st Connecticut Volunteer Infantry as a 1st lieutenant. He was serving on the staff of General Daniel Tyler (who had briefly commanded the regiment before his promotion to a division command under McDowell) when he was captured. Walter would spend nearly a year as a POW before he was released. Somewhere in all my stuff I have an application he filed for reimbursement for back pay which I will post once I find it. Born in Denmark, Walter would become a U.S. citizen while on leave in March 1863 – less than two months before he was killed at Chancellorsville.
Doug Fowler, Captain of Company A of the 17th (and the regiment’s second lieutenant colonel after the death of Walter) was also a veteran of 1861 as was Captain James Moore of Company C. Both men would die on the first day at Gettysburg on Blocher’s Knoll. Lt. Colonel Fowler had been sick at the start of the Chancellorsville campaign to the degree that he rode in an ambulance prior to the fight there. His promotion after Walter’s death was met with approval by the men of the 17th but not, however, with the approval of Major Allen Brady. Some accounts state that Fowler, mounted on a white horse, refused to dismount because of the aspersions cast on his bravery by Brady. As for Moore, he had premonitions of his death at Gettysburg throughout the march north from Virginia.
Brady himself was also a veteran of Bull Run – mostly. He had been placed under arrest when he refused to recognize the appointment of a new colonel to the 3rd Connecticut Volunteer Infantry prior to First Bull Run. In an interesting twist, Brady would end up commanding the 17th at both Chancellorsville and Gettysburg after Colonel William Noble was wounded at the first and Fowler killed at the second. Brady would be wounded himself on East Cemetery Hill the next day.
First time visitors to Gettysburg should know that the flagpole on what is now known as Barlow’s Knoll was erected at the spot where Lt. Colonel Fowler was killed and the monument erected on the spot where Captain Moore was killed.
By the time the 17th was organized it would at least have a core group of officers and soldiers in the ranks who had seen action before. I’ll get some of the others posted here in due time.